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10 Amazing Things Only People Who Have Overseas Friends Would Understand

10 Amazing Things Only People Who Have Overseas Friends Would Understand

Human beings not only enjoy the company of others, we thrive on the different types of social interactions with other members of the community.

Having tight bonds with the right people in our lives is very important, and the more friends you have the more you open yourself up for great opportunities. The beautiful thing about modern technology is that you can stay in touch with people from across the globe that you may have only spent a few days with during a holiday.

Even if you have a tight-knit group of good friends at home, it can be both fun and beneficial to nurture your friendship with an overseas friend.

Whether they are a good friend that has moved away or someone you befriended online, there are a lot of amazing things that come with a long-distance friendship.

1. You get a new appreciation for your hometown

A lot of people don’t make an effort to set aside some funds for traveling because they aren’t really motivated. Well, having a friend who lives abroad is a great motivating factor when it comes to traveling, and taking a break from your everyday surroundings can help you deal with stress, make you more creative and give you a new perspective.

When you’ve been away from your hometown for a month visiting a friend, those streets you used to walk on every day suddenly seem a bit different. You learn to appreciate all the little things that you can’t find anywhere else, particularly the food.

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2. You don’t have to spend a fortune on accommodations

As someone who used to travel to the UK every now and then, I quickly learned that the Brits have a long history of very high property prices, and they aren’t willing to give up their living space for pocket change.

A student or anyone else working with a tight budget would be lucky to have friend that they could stay with, as you end up exchanging a few small gifts and pitching in for meals – I went with a couple of bottles of local booze –  in return for having a roof over your head for a few weeks. It’s quite a good deal.

3. You get to learn a whole lot and even change certain views

Nothing changes your views on common stereotypes and teaches you valuable life lessons quite as effectively as spending some time in a significantly different culture.

We’ve always heard rumors about the British being prudish and cold, but all those preconceived notions went down the drain when I sat down to drink with a few Londoners and we had a bunch of laughs, constantly teasing each other.

My British friend also had a chance to experience some of the finer sides of Serbian culture – notably the hospitality, great food and partying – and was pleasantly surprised by the distinct lack of tribal barbarians and 30 year old technology that everyone imagines they’ll find in Eastern Europe.

4. You have an instant fact-check option for different cultures

Don’t get me wrong, Google is a great fact-checking tool, but it’s sometimes best to get the info straight from the horse’s mouth.

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When you have an overseas friend you end up sending them Skype messages with the strangest inquiries, e.g. about European castles, that whole Royal with Cheese business, this strange thing they call Marmite and all the little urban myths someone read online.

5. You pick up foreign languages, which can be a useful skill

Even if you’ve never picked up a foreign dictionary or grammar book, being around someone that speaks another language or having regular conversations online, makes it incredibly easy to pick up a language, and not just one language either.

I learned quite a few useful Spanish phrases when I visited Ireland, because I befriended a cool Spanish guy named Adrian – and yes, we did yell “Yo, Adrian” a bunch of times – on top of learning to sing a few verses in Gaelic.

You can find people from all over the world in the places you least expect them and quickly improve your communication skills.

6. You learn some incredible recipes

Did you know that Italian pizza is nothing like what we commonly eat, and that once you’ve tried olive oil and Greek yogurt in Greece, you’ll never be satisfied with the stuff you can get at your local supermarket?

Trying the local food the way it was meant to be prepared, using quality local ingredients and cooking methods is truly an eye-opening experience.

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If your foreign friend knows his or her way around the kitchen, or has a friend or family member who’s a good cook, you’ll take home a bunch of delicious recipes and some of those authentic local ingredients that make them work.

7. You receive the coolest gifts when they come visit

There are plenty of talented people and good companies making high-quality goods that don’t really have the means to expand globally. You’d be surprised by how much you’re actually missing.

The good thing about this is that when your friends come to visit, they will bring some very cool and unique gifts that no one else in your area has ready access to. I

It can be anything from great sweets and snacks, to interesting items of clothing, gadgets and tools. These things can be great conversation pieces and will become some of your most cherished possessions.

8. You always have someone to talk to in those late hours of the night

The worst thing about being a night owl is that if you get bored or some of those negative thoughts start creeping in and you need someone to talk to, you’re pretty much out of luck. Very few people are going to be willing to have a friendly chat with you at 3-4 am, but your overseas friend might have just finished breakfast or has a few hours to kill before going to sleep.

The time difference allows you to call them up in the weirdest of times and have some great sincere conversations.

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9. You get incredible networking opportunities

Staying in touch with people from different corners of the world means traveling, frequent phone calls, getting to know a different culture and language, and coming in contact with all sorts of interesting people in the process.

Your friend’s family and friends become your friends, and you can also find random encounters, like my Spanish acquaintance, beneficial.

You may get job opportunities, learn new skills or get invited to visit a place you’ve never been before and have a local to show you around town.

10. You pick up strange, but satisfying hobbies and tastes

Who knew that a somewhat clumsy Brit would take to Serbian folk dancing (Kolo) and get quite good at it, or that your average Balkan man would fall in love with British panel shows, and now can’t get enough of them.

I’ve witnessed friends who’ve traveled to China suddenly develop an incredible craving for soy sauce, to the point where they would incorporated into almost every meal. All these things make you a much more interesting person and allow you to see the true beauty of other cultures.

I’m sure everyone who has a good overseas friend will agree with me when I say that, although it can be difficult to be so far apart from someone you enjoy talking to and spending time with, these friendships that cannot be contained by borders have plenty of cool perks as well.

Featured photo credit: Friends – group of people on travel vacation having fun together. Two couples traveling in Florence, Tuscany, Italy, Europe. via shutterstock.com

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Ivan Dimitrijevic

Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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