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15 Reasons Why Being Abroad Will Make You Smarter

15 Reasons Why Being Abroad Will Make You Smarter

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.

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

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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