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15 Reasons Why Being Abroad Will Make You Smarter

15 Reasons Why Being Abroad Will Make You Smarter
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It really isn’t a surprise that most young people these days have an ambition to travel the world and get familiar with new cultures and places. We are all exposed to a very specific multicultural environment, merely by being a part of various online communities and active internet users. There is hardly a chance that you’ve never run into a photo of a beautiful, far away country and got the desire to pack your bags and just get going.

Still, moving for business or education purposes, for longer periods of time can seem scary to a lot of people. It is a big move to relocate to a completely unfamiliar environment, and not everyone has what it takes to just get up and move. This is actually a big waste since the benefits of living abroad are numerous and significant. It makes the person richer for a very significant experience. There are numerous studies that show how experiencing life in a different country can make a person smarter, wittier and more charismatic. Let’s see what some of those benefits are.

1. You boost your independence

Moving away from home and starting to find your way around a new and unfamiliar environment is a bit trialing, but just like living alone, it will force you to become more self-reliant. There is nobody around to help you out and you need to adapt to different circumstances, which often means acquiring new skills along the way. Young people in particular can benefit from this, as they are left to their own devices, being responsible for everything from booking hotels, ironing clothes and organizing a fun evening, to haggling over prices and keeping everyone in the group safe.

2. You get more creative

Deciphering an entirely new cultural and social context helps a person develop valuable problem solving skills. The goal of any foreigner is to figure out the new environment as quickly as possible and view it as a social and cultural puzzle that needs to be figured out, and this hones your creativity. You start finding new ways of communicating with people, you are inspired by the local cultural sites, and you learn to improvise when faced with an unfamiliar situation.

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3. You become more flexible

Being in a new and unfamiliar environment makes your realize that most social norms and cultural specifics are not set in stone. You realize that you are in a different environment and that the rules that you are used to do not necessarily apply. Since the majority of people around will be following a different set of social rules, you will adapt more easily and realize that the way people interact can be very different. This experience will prepare you for future encounters of similar nature.

4. You get more tolerant of others

Intolerance usually has roots in fearing the unknown. It also applies to other cultures and nationalities, and if you are uncertain on how to approach people that are of different origin or how to understand them, you are going to benefit greatly from this. There is no better way to learn how to understand a culture than to spend some time living in that particular environment.

Even back home, you begin to open up to different types of people and are more willing to learn about their lifestyle choices. In other words, you start being able to not simply tolerate, but explore and understand worldviews other than your own. People no longer fit into neat little categories like Conservative or Liberal, Weird Vegan or Gun-toting Redneck – you start seeing the nuances and are open to learning about different cultures and sub-cultures around you.

5. You get more interested in other cultures

Once you start getting to know new cultures, you are never going to stop doing it. It really is like opening an entirely new part of your brain that you never used before. You get a new perspective on life and start treating it very differently. It’s not that you become addicted to travel, but you do start to feel an urge for further exploration.

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6. You become able to find your way around unfamiliar places

Most people spend a big chunk of their youth in one place. They know their home town or city quite well, but if you drop them in an unfamiliar place, they start panicking and have a hard time navigating their way around. Moving abroad will let you overcome these kinds of lacking really quickly. After all, your alertness level will be much higher, and you will be forced to learn your environment quickly. Don’t be scared by the word forced, it happens pretty naturally.

7. You learn a new language

No matter if you are attempting to learn a new language or not, you are bound to pick up at least some of it. Sure, if you put in a conscious effort to learn it, you are going to progress much faster. The best way to learn a new language is to be exposed to it on a daily basis. Learning a new language actually has plenty of benefits other than being able to communicate effectively across a bigger part of the globe, so the super effective crash course you get during your travels can really pay off.

8. You develop new interests

Sports, cultural events, music, hobbies, all of these things and more can be quite different on different continents and in different countries. You are bound to fall in love with something from your new surrounding and develop a passion for things you paid no attention to before or didn’t even know about.

A lot of people who considered themselves lazy came back from their trips with a new passion for martial arts, yoga, rock climbing or rafting, while some who were always a bit clumsy and socially awkward fell in love with a particular form of dance. Many have also delighted their friends back home with their newly developed cooking skills, serving up exotic dishes and making tasty treats. You never know what skill or hobby you might pick up and how it can affect your life, but one thing is for certain – it will make you a much more interesting person.

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9. You develop skills to use in multicultural environments

If you move to another country for work or education, chances are that you will not be the only foreigner there. Being able to exchange experiences with people from different cultures can have a lot of benefits for your professional and private life. After all, professionals that have spent time in this kind of culturally diverse environment are highly sought after by multinational corporate conglomerates.

10. You will fear no challenge thereon after

Moving abroad is a big thing and it takes courage, planning and dedication to achieve (in most cases). When you manage to get through something as challenging as this, you will not be afraid to tackle anything.

11. You get the context on global issues

Being up to date with the news is one thing but talking to people that are experiencing the effects of global issues directly can help you get the insight into things that you understood only superficially before. First-hand experience with global issues is definitely a great thing.

12. You learn how to deal with culture shock

Culture shock is a very real thing and can be a traumatic experience if you are not prepared for it. Still, it is not something that is impossible to overcome, and going through it once helps you meet all other similar situations head on. Still, you need to be careful and watch for the culture shock not to overwhelm you. Simple things like chatting with a friend from back home to watching a TV show that you liked to follow in the past.

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Websites like zoogtv.com will allow you to watch streaming Web sites that are blocked outside of the US, like Netflix and HBO GO, no matter where you are in the world, while the National Geographic Web site can help you find out more about local culture. This way, you have a slice of home for comfort and a few pointers on getting used to different cultures.

13. You learn to find your way in different business environments

Business etiquette is different from country to country, and something that is proper conduct in the western culture can be outright rude in interaction with eastern businessmen. A chance to get acquainted with different rules for different business environments is priceless and expands your horizons significantly. You can get plenty of chances to network and develop strong business connections abroad. And knowing the language, culture and code of conduct among businessmen from different areas of the world can significantly improve your career in the future.

14. You get another perspective on life

There are more than a few ways to live one’s life. There are a lot of people that are not aware of this fact because they have never really met someone that is significantly different. Lifestyles are different from country to country, and spending some time somewhere else can broaden your horizons and possibly change your life completely.

15. You become more charismatic

You don’t need anybody to tell you this is true – you know it is. There few things that can develop your personality more than becoming a world traveler. Your mind and your soul become richer, and you become more appealing to everyone. A host of interesting stories, experiences that helped changed the way you felt about issues and shaped you into who you are, that knowing gaze and welcoming smile all experienced travelers share – these are all things that can help you improve your social and love lives.

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Photos, the sights you see, souvenirs, everything fades in comparison to the experience that changes you from your core. The change is always for the better, and it is always a cherished memory for people in the end. Don’t let fear hold you back – go out there and meet the people of the world, it will be fun, I promise!

Featured photo credit: Young woman walking on stairs of small street of Vernazza town. Italy 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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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