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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 August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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