I moved abroad right after high school when I was 17 years old. The country where I moved was very new to me, its culture and mentality felt alien. Unfortunately, I was too young to know that any traveler has to do thorough research on the place they’re planning to visit beforehand to minimize the culture shock. Later on in life, when I moved to my next foreign country, I did not make the same mistake. I am not happy to say this, but my first experience abroad was full of “I wish I did this and I wish I did not do that” moments.
However, over the years, I have become a person who accepts every situation and tries to create nice stories out of failures and disappointments just as I would triumphs and successes. That is why I am presenting you with a few useful tips that should be on your to-do list when traveling abroad.
Learn a local language
I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn a new language – a difficult language – but one that is worth the hard work. In my defense, I was also learning how to speak English, which I accomplished quite quickly. The credit goes to all my foreign friends who had to put up with my constant grammar mistakes and horrible accent.
In all seriousness though, I have had the right attributes surrounding me to learn a local language that attributed to my fluency. This included helpful people who spoke the local language and language courses located in my university. I would like to highlight that any kind of opportunity needs to be grabbed and fully utilized.
Be choosy with who you let into your life
I am a kind and cheerfully naïve person. I started to form an opinion that kindness is a diagnosis and it is terminal. I may sound very negative while talking about something so wonderful, however I will explain why. When I was 17 years old and moved to a country where I had no friends and family, I did not come to think that there are people out there who deliberately hurt you and leave you in a mess of your own anger and pain. Since I have experienced it, I decided to look at it as a lesson – actually lessons – because it took me a while to start becoming picky about whom I should let into my life.
Even the closest person can easily hurt you and you have to be ready for it. I advise travelers to carefully choose who they accept as friends and acquaintances. And based on some advice I used to hear from my mother: it is always better to be suspicious at first. You will have all the time in the world to trust a person, but at first, observe, listen, and make adequate judgements about who you let into your world while you travel the world.
Embrace a new culture
I feel truly blessed to be an open-minded person who accepts changes and diversity relatively well. I have not only traveled to different countries, I have also taken a close look at the local people, their culture, and their habits in the countries I’ve been to. This quality makes me look at my problems from a very different angle and thus my reactions and solutions to any kind of issues become different, in a good way. People across the world have different values and beliefs.
For some, appearance matters the most, while for others, look for the emotional and spiritual side of life. I adjust to qualities that I have seen in other cultures and implement them into my daily life and try to find a middle ground where my way of life meets theirs. Travelers need to manage to see and grasp the best qualities from different cultures and fully immerse themselves in different lifestyles and experiences.
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