Meeting people from other countries opens a door to the world even though it means at times that we must get out of our comfort zone. Having foreign friends can bring a myriad of benefits, but I will only mention the few I consider of great importance.
The first and most important reason for me, as a language obsessed enthusiast is
the opportunity to practice other languages.
You got to practice their language in a friendly and relaxed environment. Without much effort, you’ll be learning expressions, vocabulary and grammar as well as how to pronounce the words correctly, all with first-hand information from a native speaker.
You will also get accustomed to day to day expressions and slang words that you won’t find in textbooks.
You can still carry on the contact by exchanging text messages, skype conferences, WhatsApp or Messenger calls when you’re away from each other.
Even when your primary objective is not learning the language, you will surprise yourself when you realise that your subconscious has been picking up novel expressions used by your friend in context.
You have more authentic experiences.
Travelling to a country where you have a native friend to guide you, makes the whole experience more authentic. Your international friend will give you insider tips about almost everything – restaurants were authentic food are served at affordable prices, places to visit of the bitten track, neighbourhoods to avoid-. He/she will make you experience the realities of local life first- hand and you will see the place through their eyes and not from a tourist perspective.
You have opportunities to meet new people.
Your friend will introduce you to family and friends opening opportunities for new connections and friendship in the foreign country. You will also be able to keep in touch with them and this will allow your network to grow.
Even at home, your new acquired skill will allow you to embrace diversity and connect with different group of people.
Whilst visiting, if you meet people in your same line of work, this will give you a more global vision of your industry and will provide you with a better understanding of your field.
You can share your culture.
You will certainly have the opportunity to talk to your international friends about your own culture: music, food, ways of living. You will be able to grasp everything from a different perspective -your friend’s-. You will also appreciate at a deeper level what you have back home.
You learn about other cultures.
You experience the food, the music, the traditions and celebrations of your host country directly. You learn to see things through their eyes, and you gain valuable insight about them.
Slowly all the pre-conceived ideas you had will vanish as your knowledge of the culture will grow.
You become more tolerant.
We tend to use stereotypes to classify people we know little about, and these stereotypes forge our opinions. Cultural knowledge shatters them.
We have a more positive attitude towards these new cultures we encounter, and towards other group of people we label as “different” from us. We become more empathetic towards them. This is what travelling and having international friends do for us. We have then a deeper understanding and we discover that we all have more in common than we first thought.
International friendship shows us the path to discovering our likeness while exposing the beauty in our differences. This makes us true Citizen of The World.
I have been exposed to diverse cultures since I was a child, and I understood soon enough that tolerance is key and I made it my mission to introduce foreign languages to as many people as I can so that they might discover the beauty in diversity of what we call the human race.
Interested in languages and you don’t know what to do?
Book a 1-hour ‘Build Your Language Learning Plan’ and I’ll get you well on your way.
“The devil is in the planning”.