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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

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 January 2, 2019

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop focusing on the material objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan gifts in advance

We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a better way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

Here’s what you can do:

Set a healthier pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a fitness watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try intermittent fasting

This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

Leave bigger intervals between meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

Plan time to relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

Try to be a little pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Try waking up earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan your day the day before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-watching TV series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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Running on coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Stop over-consuming

We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

Set your phone on flight mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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