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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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