I am a firm believer that no one should have to reinvent the wheel. So here are my top 20 life hacks for wandering the world and how you can get the most out of your international experience. Cheers.
1. Get over yourself
2. Learn ___(Insert National Language Here)____. This is ____(Insert New Country Here)___. Not America.
3. Network. Network. Network. And then… Network some more.
4. Learn how to describe where you live properly so you can negotiate with cabs at 4pm or 4am.
5. Accept that your stomach will hate you for weeks. It’s a great way to jump start that 6-pack you’ve been meaning to get.
6. Practice charades. If you can’t explain it with your words, try with your hands.
7. Say yes to everything… unless it’s a black cab.
8. Make friends with the locals and, if given the chance, accept the opportunity to be a guest in their household.
9. Stop wearing make-up… at least everyday.
10. Backpack. Stay in hostels. Take advantage of the cheap cost of living! Unless you’re in the UK or Europe… which is basically a more expensive version of America with a different national language. Take a boat and try Africa instead.
11. Be loyal to the new friends you make. The ex-pat community is small and lonely, at times.
12. Don’t be a dick.
13. Eat frequently.
14. Practice dating. You will never have to see an international ex again unless you want too. Go crazy with your “needs,” talking about your feelings, etc etc.
15. Explore other religions and practices. Maybe you’ll find something that’s more adjacent to how YOU want to live your life… and not how your grandmother thinks you should live your life.
16. Stay away from hard drugs. If anything happens, you might not know the correct emergency number to contact or where to go.
17. Fall off the grid. Take some time to discover the beauty of privacy (unless you’re a blogger lol). Some how, the Facebook/twitter community will make it without you.
18. Screw Parental Guidance. You’ll never be this young and physically capable of running away from kidnappers ever again. So go on. Jump on the back of that motorcycle. Go to the club with those random strangers you just met. Fall in love with a stranger. Wander around without a map. Jump international borders without calling mommy and daddy first for permission.
19. Let go of your attachment to material things. Travel with a carry-on, max. If you really REALLY need something, you can just buy it when you get there.
20. Work on your face. Kindness and humility are expressed through the eyes. If you can communicate that you’re a good person without words, everyone… regardless of the language or cultural barrier… will fall in love with you.
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About Vanessa Elizabeth
Vanessa Elizabeth is a cultural chameleon currently based in London. She enjoys sports (such as CrossFit and dating), cooking, and demolishing her savings account. When she's not busy blogging about her feelings, she works full-time and practices Chinese with her English/German friends.
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