7 First Impression Tips for Travelers

First impressions. You only get one chance at them. So, let’s talk how you make the best first impression, before that day comes.

First Impressions Are Important

Always good to make a good first impression. That’s true when meeting anyone. But when we move overseas, especially to places where we’re obviously the minority, people take special notice of you.

So, when we move abroad, that first impression can be huge, and lasting. Here are 7 tips to help us not embarrass ourselves.

1. Study / Research / Learn

Before you board any plane, you’re thinking about a zillion things at once. You’re thinking about a job and where to stay. You’re thinking about money, the cost of food, transportation, electricity. And what about the language…should you learn 1-10 first, or “where’s the bathroom?”. Or maybe you’re already dreaming what hot vacation spots are nearby.

First things first: learn proper greetings, ways to say thank you, sorry, and how much. Research cultural differences, like personal space, what hand to use, eye contact and many more – all these help shape that first impression.

2. Two Ears > One Mouth

The other day I heard a mother sternly say to her child: “You have two ears, but only one mouth for a reason!”

At the time, I thought “What a bitch.” But I’m a dad and felt her frustration.

Anyway, the phrase works for new expats— keep your ears (& eyes) open. The greatest opportunity for this is when you’re with new people and you watch them greet each other, and how they introduce you to others.

Listen and watch closely. Then speak or do. Or try at least.

3. When Shaking Hands, Don’t be a Dominant Braggart

Handshaking is just one example, a clear jab at US President trump. Because, to rest of the world, he is the perfect “dominant braggart.”

When you’re about to make a first impression, you might be nervous. That’s cool and totally understandable. Anyone who cares, is going to be a bit nervous. But it doesn’t mean overcompensate, go over the top with dominance and showmanship.

Trump handshake

In general, don’t be an asshole.

4. Be Humble and Confident.

This is a step up from #3. Confidence and courage come from being calm.

If you don’t feel confident, then fake it till you make it. You’ll find, faster than you can imagine, your confidence gets very real.

5. Loudly, Slowly, Smile

I bet I have written this phrase on the site before. If I wrote “loudly, slowly, smile” before, I also probably told the story.

In South Korea, waaay back in 1996, when a sweet teen-aged student told the new, nervous TESL teacher (me), how some days I was a better teacher on some days than other days. The “good days, you are loudly, slowly. And smile.”

Proof having a calm, happy confidence works.
Speak loudly, speak slowly and with a sincere smile.

6. Speak With Your Body

Most communication is non-verbal. You probably hear that as much as “make a good first impression.”

And what about when traveling or living abroad? Wow, when abroad, the non-verbal communication takes over! Especially when we don’t understand the host language (–and they don’t understand yours).

This brings up two important points. First, be mindful of your normal non-verbal communication (stance, facial expression, arm/hands waving). Basically, what you appear to say if you were in a silent picture. Second, be mindful of how you use your hands or sounds to get your idea across (gestures, pointing). This is super useful for communicating your question or idea, but be aware some gesture innocent to you, turns out to be offensive to someone else.

When there’s a language barrier, non-verbal communication can become the only language. Use it well!

7. Never Stop Improving on that First Impression

Hey, the bottom line is, it is loads of fun living abroad, communicating and understanding others. It’s a journey of a 1000 steps.

Sure, it starts with the best first impression. But everyone you meet recognizes you’re new to their home and their ways. You’ll be given lots of latitude in improving on that first impression.

 

 

What’s Special About the United States?

You must know the TV show “The Newsroom”? The news production parody from Aaron Sorkin (same guy behind the shows West Wing & Sports Night).

First minutes of the pilot episode have news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) ranting on about what makes the United States the greatest country in the world (spoiler: “it’s not, but it can be”). If you haven’t seen it, google his rant later.

Will McAvoy

Before you balk, no – I am NOT supporting Trump (a.k.a. Mr. “Make America Great Again”). No, not in a million years. Nor am I supporting Hillary Clinton. No, not in a million years.

Sure, America could be great again. But I hold no hope, in either candidate.

Hold your breath for 4 years? No, better still, go away for 4 years.

Whatever happens this November, America in 2020 might just be a place to return to. (Or it might not.)

But no doubt, now is a great time to become an expat yourself.

— Which begs the question, what are you still doing there? Start on your plan, today.

gonein1year-overview

Using Your Outside Voice – Vote

This post is for my friend Joe, a new Canadian. Joe is married to Steph, an old university friend of my wife’s. And Joe, an American, just got his Canadian citizenship a few months ago. Congrats Joe!

Joe’s shiny new citizenship grants him the right to vote. Today!

First Time to Vote, You Lucky Bastard!
Way to Go, Joe!

Today, October 19th 2015 is election day for Canada. Tonight we find out if Stephen Harper, the current leader, will stay on.

Or, perhaps we’ll have Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal party.

Or, Tom Mulcair, leader of the NDP party.

If You Are Canadian…

Continue reading Using Your Outside Voice – Vote

The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

You want to work abroad. You follow the steps, nail the interview and hear their salary offer.

Is it enough? How much is enough?

Sure, now you know how much you’re taking in. But how much will be going out? How much for a month’s rent, a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas?

For some cities, you’ll make more than enough to pay for a good life, plus sock away the rest in savings.

And for some cities, …well, you should have countered with a higher salary.

How should you have known? You could have known. Research.

For now, let me give you the 10 most expensive and the 10 cheapest cities. If your city isn’t one of them, read on.

Continue reading The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

Review of the Bellroy Travel Wallet

I just got my new wallet from Bellroy a few days ago. (Spoiler: This is one nice, fucking wallet!)

 

If I may, let me share a paragraph or two about how I found this wallet.

I’m watching some video when I see an ad. The ad is for a “Bellroy Travel Wallet.” Well, being your ExpatYourself guy, I’m now intrigued. And I did something I never do: I clicked on the ad.

The ad jumps to Bellroy’s website page, all about their Travel Wallet. I watch that video and I’m now more than intrigued. I’m in love. So in love, in fact, that I did something else I never do: I write a personal note to a company, asking “Can I please…?”

And so, in 10 minutes, I did two things I’d never done, and I’m feeling sorta sheepish, but excited. After some e-mail exchange, I wait. Sure enough, my wallet arrives. And it is Pure Awesomeness.

Continue reading Review of the Bellroy Travel Wallet

The Best in Istanbul Breakfasts

That Istanbul is a city of visual and cultural delights comes as news to no one. Every year, the largest city in Turkey brings thousands of visitors flocking to its Byzantine churches and triumphant mosques.

Still more come for the night-life, from ultra-hip cocktail clubs to traditional taverns serving raki. Many enjoy the lifestyle so much they decide to stay. But whether yours is a fleeting visit or the love affair of a lifetime, all that sight-seeing and revelry is hungry work. Those hoping to feast like sultans the morning after a big night will not be disappointed by the selection of breakfast menus here.

If you’re after a traditional Turkish breakfast, you’ll be literally spoiled for choice if you go for the numerous buffet options. Set prices that won’t break the budget often come with stunning surroundings, thanks to places like Hidiv Kasri, both restaurant and landmark, situated on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. A towering Ottoman relic and previous home to Egyptian Governors of old, the breakfast spreads here run to around sixty items, including a mixture of fresh fruits, olives, cheeses, eggs and pastries. Similar feasts can be had at Malta Koshu in Yildiz Park.

Sundays often find classic Turkish restaurants serving special brunches and one such establishment is Laledan, within the Ciragan Palace. This is top-notch fare, with hot and cold dishes of the restaurant’s speciality fish and sushi served, along with sweeter options. It won’t be the cheapest of meals but the service and riverside views are worth a one-off visit, if nothing else.

Those who like their eggs will be in for a treat at Lades 2, a breakfast joint with a traditional feel in Beyoglu. You can eat the first meal of the day whenever you like here and scrambled dishes like menemen are accompanied by sucuuk or pastirma as you would expect, but the standards are high and the egg is very much the star of the show.

Some days you can’t beat a hankering for home food, and it’s one these days you should head towards Molly’s Cafe near the Galata Tower. Maple syrup on pancakes, Tabasco sauce on your morning burritos; the selection of North American classics is done to perfection here and without emptying your wallet either. If you’re finding the general lack of bacon in the city distressing, pop down to the Kirinit diner and enjoy your rashers outdoors in the picturesque Nisantasi neighbourhood.

Anyone lingering in the Turkish metropolis for more than a day will come to realise that, in addition to its visual and cultural splendour, it’s a city of edible delights as well. From breaking fast in an elegant former palace to enjoying Findilki Park or Pierre Loti Hill with a simit in your hand, once you’ve eaten your first breakfast in Istanbul, it will be a difficult culinary experience to top.

Expats’ Top 10 Countries

You know you want to be an expat, but you don’t know where?
Make it easy on yourself — pick one of the Top 10, according to a massive survey of expats themselves.

  • 1. Canada
    2. Australia
    3. Thailand
    4. Singapore
    5. Bahrain
    6. South Africa
    7. France
    8. USA
    9. Spain
    10. Hong Kong

Oh, and if you’re wondering who was LAST: the UK. Why? Too expensive, arduous commutes, huge unemployment, etc.

An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps

ipod
For you (us) iPod Touch & iPhone owners, here is a great list of what we should have installed on our toys, er…devices. Well, it’s at least a great list to start with. Some of my personal favorites, not listed here include the Facebook app and at least one Tower defense game.

Continue reading An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps