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How to Navigate Through a Foreign Country Without a Phrasebook

How to Navigate Through a Foreign Country Without a Phrasebook

Many people are scared to visit a country where they do not speak the language, but as daunting as it is, you can travel around these places and still have a fun time. Consider the following tips so you don’t have to worry about whether or not you know the local language and instead just enjoy your trip:

1. Use Hand Gestures and Body Language

Using hand gestures is one of the easiest ways to express what you want, and for locals to respond. Some common examples to communicate are:

-Holding up three fingers indicate you want to order 3 beers

-Using a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to indicate your opinion

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-Using your finger to point to the exact item you want

-Shrugging to indicate you don’t understand

-Nodding or shaking your head to indicate yes and no

-Smiling or frowning to show others how you feel

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-Waving hello or goodbye to someone

-Shaking someone’s hand to thank them

-Bowing to someone to indicate respect
You can pretty much get what you need using the examples mentioned above. If you’re buying a souvenir or ordering in a restaurant, there is not much more you need to do other than pointing to an item and paying for it. If someone comes up to you on the street and tries to sell you something, all you need to really do is shake your head to indicate no—it’s as simple as that.

Be warned that there are certain hand gestures that might be offensive in some countries, so do your research before you go. For example, in some Asian countries, gesturing with the “ok” sign is actually an insult.

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2. Rely on Your Map

Many maps found in local tourist information booths will have a map in English. Take advantage of these maps and use them to explore your surroundings. Many of these maps will also have street names in the local language, so even if street signs aren’t in English, you can use your map to help you.

You can also use your map to ask for directions even if you cannot speak the language. All you need to do is point on the map, and a local can use their hands to point you in the right direction.

3. Stick to Major Tourist Attractions

Many locals have learned English in order to make a living catering to tourists. If you stick to areas where many tourists go, then you should have no problem speaking to someone in English. You might even meet other friendly tourists to chat with if you’re feeling a bit lonely.

4. Seek Out Local Expat Communities

Expat communities are great because local stores there will have English speakers, or at least signs in English. If you’re not up to trying to figure out what menu items mean, in an expat community there will be at least one restaurant that features an English menu.  Expats themselves are usually very friendly people and they will be more than happy to help you out if you approach them.

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5. Carry a Calculator

Many stores overseas do not have price tags attached to items. Instead, you will probably find that most places will require you to bargain before you can buy an item.  Most store owners will have a calculator to show you prices and such, but it doesn’t hurt to carry your own just in case. A calculator might even come on handy at local convenience stores, where you don’t need to bargain, but there are no price tags around. All you need to do is to bring the item to the shopkeeper, point to your calculator, and have them punch in how much the item costs.

6. Grab a Business Card from Where You Are Staying, or From a Nearby Store 

Even if you are  a whiz with directions, there might be an occasion where you may be lost. Before you leave your hotel or immediate area, grab a business card with the address in the local language. Just in case you don’t know where you are, you always hop in a taxi and head back to more familiar territory.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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