7 Useful Languages for Traveling the World

Useful languages for travel are so important. The ability to speak a foreign language can provide you with many opportunities while traveling. It will give you an edge in the job market and help you meet people in different countries. Whether you choose to learn German, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese or any other foreign language is up to you, but it’s important to know what languages are most spoken around the world.

Spanish

As a traveler, you’re probably looking for the language that will give you the widest range of places to use, and Spanish is the clear winner. It’s the second most spoken language in the world, and it’s in use on every continent except Antarctica.

In addition to being a national language in 21 countries and an official language in eight others, it’s estimated to be the native language of over 437 million people worldwide. If your goal is to see as much of the world as possible, learning Spanish will open up far more doors for you than any other tongue.

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French

Learning French is a great start for travelers. It’s one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, so it’s useful to know in many countries.

If you’re a tourist traveling around Europe, French will get you by in many places. But that’s not what makes it worth studying.

French is a Romance language, which means it shares many similarities with other Romance languages like Spanish and Italian. This makes it easier to learn than other European languages like German or Russian (which are not as closely related).

What’s more, French is spoken in many parts of Africa and North America as well as Europe. So if you’re planning on spending time in these parts of the world, learning French will give you an advantage over people who don’t speak French at all!

Arabic

Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. It’s also one of the oldest written languages on earth — records show that it was used by ancient Egyptians as early as 3100 B.C.

There are many different dialects of Arabic, but they’re all mutually intelligible (meaning speakers can understand each other). This makes Arabic an especially useful language for travelers who want to learn just one language that will let them communicate with many people across different regions.

If you want to learn Arabic, there are plenty of resources available online at sites like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone that make it easy for you to get started learning basic phrases and sentences before visiting a foreign country where Arabic is spoken.

Chinese (Mandarin)

The Mandarin Chinese language has some of the most useful international applications you can think of, especially if you’re interested in traveling. This fact isn’t dependent on whether Chinese is the official language of the country you’re in. There are still 1.2 billion native speakers and nearly three times as many people who speak it as a second language.

Mandarin Chinese demonstrates awareness of cultural diversity, offering an opportunity to conduct business with one-fifth of the entire world’s population. It can also serve as a stepping stone to learning other languages with similar East Asian roots.

useful languages for traveling the world
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English

If you’re looking for an ideal place to start, consider English. English is the most commonly spoken language in the world (it’s spoken by 1.5 billion people), and it’s used in countless countries as the primary business language. It’s also used as an official language in 57 countries, giving it a strong presence on six continents.

Several studies found that people who know English earn more on average than those who don’t. As globalization continues to bring us closer together—especially in our global economy—knowing English will only become more useful and valuable.

German

German is a helpful language to learn because it’s spoken by over 100 million people in Europe, and it’s the official language of the European Union. Additionally, German is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, with over 500 million native speakers.

German is also used throughout the world as a secondary language — for example, German is taught in schools in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. If you want to learn a language that will be useful anywhere in Europe or even elsewhere in the world (for example, if you’re traveling to Africa), German may be a good choice.

Because of how many people speak it and how many countries use it as an official language, German is relatively easy for Americans to learn compared to other languages that aren’t as commonly spoken. This makes it easy for Americans who want to travel abroad but don’t have much time (or money) to invest in learning a foreign language before they go on vacation or business trips abroad.

Portuguese

Portuguese is the fifth-most spoken language in the world, and the number of speakers is growing every day. Knowing this language can help you communicate with over 220 million people globally. It’s also one of the official languages of the European Union and is used for official business in nine countries outside of Portugal, such as Brazil and Angola.

In addition to its widespread use, Portuguese is known for being relatively easy to learn. Although it has a few tricky features like its nasal vowels (which are found at the end of some words), the grammar rules are much simpler than those of other European languages, making it ideal for beginners. If you’re looking to learn something new that will be useful while traveling, consider starting with Portuguese.

Takeaway: These seven languages will be the most helpful to you while traveling in different parts of the world! Definitely useful languages for traveling the world!

11/11 Manifestations – My Wish List for the Year

I recently saw a Tik Tok (Haleyhoffmansmith) describing a manifestation exercise of using the power of November 11th to write 111 things that you want to have happen in the year.

Her premise is that instead of having 3-5 big manifestations, we focus on a bunch of small wishes. We don’t always know when or how things will happen so the more we put out into the universe, the more something could come to fruition.

My 111 Wish List

I actually found it quite difficult to come up with 111 things. This past year, I have really focused on contentment with myself as a person and the reality of the here and now. Sure, I definitely plan out goals and strive for new things, but the process of manifesting true wishes is a work in progress. But I can’t argue with it because I have so many amazing things going on in my life right now.

The easy part of this year’s list stems from the fact that I’m already living a previous manifestation of teaching in Norway for the year. So things like visit an ice hotel and go ice skating are likely to happen. I even put visit 10 new countries (which up until 6 weeks ago I had only been to 3) and I know it’s a strong possibility. I just booked an 8 day 6 country trip over the holidays. More to come on that.

Right now, I’m sitting here trying to finish my list and this blog post at the same time. I only have 43 items. I guess the question now is how big or how small should my wishes be? I love Christmas and I have no idea where I will be on Christmas because of my Europe travels. So I guess I can say to take a picture in front of a Christmas tree on Christmas wherever I am!

I have committed myself to the Bergen half marathon in April with the 20 week training plan I created and I the hotel and flight I booked!

Fitting in a Box

As a high achieving student my whole life, I really want to follow all of the expectations. So some stranger told me on the Internet that I need to come up with 111 wishes for the year. Which sounds great in theory. And I’m sure I have them in my brain. But I just can’t seem to get them all out on paper right now. And part of me feels like I’m failing. But to who’s metric? It’s a guide and I can create my own reality.

And you know what? It is really okay. I make the rules for my life. I’m a little silly and goofy. Some might call me gullible. It’s something that happens when you are generally trusting that people have good intentions. I’ve been working on becoming the best version possible of me, the only me on this planet.

So I will likely fill up my 111 wish Google Sheet with checkboxes all nice and neat. But for now, I’m still developing that list and letting opportunities come to me. Perhaps when I’m done I’ll share the whole list with the world and we can all track my progress together!

Aker Brygge and the Opera House in Oslo

Because I haven’t started traveling outside of Oslo yet, I still get to spend my free time exploring the sights of the city. Each day I learn a new neighborhood or new way to get from one point to another. For example, today I took the tram for the first time, which was super easy and comfortable. As someone from the U.S., the public transportation system here is simply amazing.

The app gives you the exact times and locations of where to make transfers to get to your destination. I had previously walked to the top of the Opera House on an evening I was already downtown by the central station.

Aker brygge and the opera house

The Opera House is gorgeous, but tickets to shows are out of my price range. However, from the top I got a great view of the new Munch Museum. This is definitely a place where I need to spend a few days visiting. There was some type of DJ or outdoor concert on a big screen right outside, so I stood and listened to some music for a bit.

Aker Brygge

A beautiful area to walk along the water in Oslo is at Aker Brygge. I had not had the chance to explore this area, but walked along just around sunset time. I saw the outline of the buildings a few weeks ago when I took a ferry ride. The area is hustling and bustling with people. There are a lot of restaurants of various price ranges. You can find affordable dinners up to expensive meals in much fancier restaurants.

As the weather gets colder, people still eat outside and the restaurants are set up to accommodate this. Heat lamps are placed outside with blankets and fire pits. It’s kind of cool how Norwegians are so in touch with nature that they have found ways to still enjoy the fresh air even in winter.

At the end of the pier in Aker Brygge, there is a diving board to jump into the water. I saw a couple of people swimming there while I was bundled up in my jacket. Apparently, people will swim all year no matter how cold it is.

There are many events free to public in this area, such as the festival of light art. I can’t wait to check them out throughout this year!

5 Awesome Places to Check Out in Oslo

So, as you may know by now, I am living in Norway until Summer 2022. This means I get to explore lots of new places in my new home city.

I went to The South Indian restaurant for dinner one night. There, I ordered the shrimp biryani and it was the best Indian dish I have ever had. I highly recommend checking this place out if you head to Oslo anytime soon.

In this post I wanted to share my top 5 adventures in the 2 weeks since I arrived. I am sure that I will have plenty more to share as time goes on.

Oslo Public Library

On Thursday, I ventured out to the new main modern public library in Oslo. It is located on the water right next to the Opera House. As you walk in the entrance there is a cafe and escalators to head up to any of the five floors. They have everything you can think of, including music stations where you can play different instruments. I decided to work out on the mezzanine area for a bit because the inside of the library was extremely crowded. While beautiful, I don’t think this is a place I can work regularly.

Frogner Park

I took a nice long walk one day in Frogner Park, which is the biggest park in central Oslo. Thankfully, it was not crowded that day so I got to get pretty close to the sculptures and take my time walking through. It says on the website that there is a cafe and playground, but the park is so big, I didn’t see that part yet.

Waterfalls by the river

So I discovered the Akerselva River by accident. I knew it was there and planned to visit it some day, but just happened to be heading to a Too Good To Go snack pick-up that took me along the river to get there.

I am excited to go back and actually walk the whole length of the river, which is several miles long. However, it was a beautiful day and I got some great pictures on my walk.

Karl Johans Gate

This stretch between the palace and Oslo S central transportation station contains restaurants and shops galore. I have walked it 2 times and I still see new places to check out.

Holmenkollen

I took a beautiful metro ride out of the center city to get some views overlooking Oslo and the water. The Holmenkollen stop is known for a big ski jump that is a major tourist attraction. I cannot wait to go back up and drink hot chocolate in the lodge while I watch other people ski (not me).

While I walked up the hill, I managed to get some decent shots nearing sun down.

Overall, I accomplished a lot of sight-seeing in my first two weeks. I have a pretty good grasp on the transportation system, but have taken advantage of nice weather to walk as many places as possible.

I worked a little bit last week, but starting tomorrow morning, I will begin the day with a to-do list and knock out tons of emails to get started.

Roaming in Oslo, Norway: Exploring the City

Well, I’m finally out of quarantine and can go about exploring the city as I wish. Interestingly, because of the strict measures in place over the last year and a half, things seem relatively normal here. I haven’t seen anyone wearing a mask, but the majority of the population is vaccinated at this point.

The first day out of quarantine wasn’t a whole lot different than the previous days. I did get to meet a friend in person for the first time and I ate a yummy appetizer in a restaurant.

It was refreshing to get out and walk around the city and take in all of the sights. I was surprised at how easy it is to get close to the palace where the king and queen live. It seems to be a big attraction. While I was walking by, they were doing the changing of the guards, which was pretty cool to watch.

I finally got the chance to check out some stores and get a few items that I didn’t pack to bring with me. I picked up an extra blanket, slippers, and a hair straightener.


Prices Compared to the U.S.

A lot of people warned me that things here would be more expensive. So far, I am finding the prices to be fairly comparable to most of the places I lived in the U.S. Food and drink prices at restaurants are about the same, but tipping is not required in Norway. I even had one server try to give me the tip back saying that it’s not customary and they make a living wage, unlike the U.S.

My grocery bill was not much different than I would expect to pay at home. You can search for good deals and sales. Just like in the U.S., there are certain times and days when stores run promotions or deals on items.

The coolest app that I learned about a couple of days ago is called Too Good To Go. It looks like some of the big cities in the U.S. are starting to use it as well.

Essentially, you pay a discount price, typically a few dollars, for a surprise bag from a store or cafe. The pick-up window is between 10 and 15 minutes before the store closes. It helps reduce waste so they don’t have to throw as much away. For $10, I have enough sandwiches and baked goods for my breakfasts and lunches this week. One cafe gave a salad, hummus wrap, and arugula sandwich in the surprise bag.

Travel in Oslo

For around $100, I purchased a monthly pass to travel around the city using rail, metro, buses, and ferries. That is fairly comparable to a pass in NYC, which is $127 for the month.

Interestingly, there are no stations preventing entry onto the metro platforms. It is super easy to just walk right on from any stop. I tried to scan my phone on the train the first time I got on, but nothing was happening. I asked someone and apparently, it is all done on the honor system. So basically anyone can ride public transportation. They do random checks with hefty fines to prevent people from taking advantage of the system.

The monthly pass even allowed access to the ferries. So yesterday, I decided to take a ferry ride to the different fjords.

I start officially working this week, so I will be sure to make more Productivity posts. This will be important as I transition from a vacation/self-care mode back into organization and travel.

Week 1 in Norway: Quarantine Edition

Well, I arrived in Norway on Saturday to a very efficient Covid testing protocol. I retrieved my bags, got my nose swabbed, and left after 15 minutes with my negative test results.

I am benefiting from the new guidance of quarantining for only 3 days. However, on the third day you have to get a PCR test, and it is day 5 and I still don’t have my results.

Thankfully, I can go on walks to get out of the house. Yesterday, I went to the park and walked around the statues. The day before I wandered throughout the city until I got tired and made it home just before it poured. It rains a lot here so far!

Food Options

I am impressed with the amount of food options in this city. Oslo is truly an international city and I can pretty much get any type of food I want here. When I got the Covid test done, the attendant gave me a suggestion on where to get a Philly cheesesteak ALMOST as good as Philly itself. So, I definitely plan to try that.

Food Delivery

Saturday afternoon, I was super tired from the 35 hours of travel leading to my arrival. Since I couldn’t go out, I used an app called Foodora to place a dinner order for delivery. It is very similar to Uber Eats or Door Dash.

I ordered Indian food and it was at my door within 30 minutes. It was piping hot and delicious. The delivery people pick up the food and deliver it on scooters in an insulated bag attached to the back of their scooter.

Another app I haven’t tried yet is Wolt, but I’ll be sure to check it out.

Grocery Delivery

After dinner, I placed an order for grocery delivery Sunday morning. I ordered groceries from Oda, which was convenient, quick, and fresh. On their website it says they have over 7,000 items to choose from. Truly, they did have a lot of choices! It was kind of overwhelming in my exhausted state.

I did pretty well for my first grocery haul, only making a couple small errors, such as ordering two bunches of bananas instead of 2 bananas.

So far, I cooked every meal since Sunday to save money. Also, I’m ready to treat myself when I finally get that green light from my Covid results and I can leave quarantine.

The food here is unbelievably fresh! Even the shredded cheese tastes like it was just grated right before it was delivered. The grapes are crisp and the avocados arrived in perfect condition ready to eat.

I made myself a yummy salmon dinner the first night with actual Norwegian salmon.

General Observations

The people are pretty nice. Literally, every car stops to let you cross the street even if they are the only one there and really you could walk right after they pass. It is very much a bike and pedestrian friendly city.

Interestingly, parallel parking seems to have no rules. Cars are parked on the street facing both directions so I guess it doesn’t matter which side you are on.

I have not seen a single person wearing heels, which is probably because of the cold weather and that you have to walk everywhere.

I passed this discount grocery store called Extra, but upon further examination, I realized that the prices were the same as Oda. So, it might just be easier for me to keep ordering groceries and have it delivered.

They take recycling and trash seriously here. I have to separate my food trash items into a green bag and all of the plastic wrappings into a blue bag. Then, plastic and glass bottles are recycled along with cardboard. Plain shopping bags are for generic trash. I’m getting used to that. I don’t like having the little bags on my counter, but I haven’t figured out what else to do with them yet.

I’m a little scared of my electric bill. The washing machine takes forever and you can’t even fit that much in it to begin with. And the dryer also takes a long time. I think I’m going to start hanging out my clothes. I see a lot of people doing this outside.

Productivity Level

If you have been following along this blogging journey, then you know I like to stay productive and keep up with my to-do lists. Being in quarantine sort of forced me to take some downtime, which turned out to be much needed. I read a lot of books, took walks, and adjusted to the time change.

I had a couple of meetings, but most of my time was for me. I thought about using it to complete some online jobs for extra money to help me with my debt reduction goal, but I decided rest and relaxation was best before things get really busy with travel and work.

My workshops are in review and orientation is not until next week. It’s rare that I get downtime like this!

So, I’ll be sure to pick back up on my time management tips and suggestions for moving toward goals soon!

10 Amazon Must Haves for Travel, Technology, and Luggage

Must haves for travel: Well, I just finished my 35 hour trip from the US to Norway where I will be living until Summer of 2022. There were some bumps along the way. One bump was my luggage sent to my layover in Portugal instead of my final destination. After 2 hours of working with the gate agents, I ended up just paying again to have it sent all the way to Oslo. I will worry about contacting United later.

I wanted to share some of the travel items I used along the way. Also, some items I wish I purchased to make things a bit easier.

  1. Collapsible water bottle – This was great because I hooked it to my backpack or my purse when I wasn’t using it. I filled it up in the airport and also at the hotel on my way back to the airport for the 3rd flight.

2. Travel backpack that opens like a carry-on – Now, this was handy because I had two checked bags that I needed my hands for. However, I did fill my backpack a little too heavy and my shoulders and back were hurting pretty bad by the time I reached my final destination. This particular model had 3 mesh bags that I used for dirty laundry when I changed between flights.

3. Plug travel adapter – This was a last minute purchase thanks to my grandpa doing some research online. I knew at one point that I needed this, but it slipped my mind to order it in advance. I’m glad I had it with me and didn’t have to purchase anything at the airport.

4. Liquid travel bottles – I got the ones with labels so I would remember the difference between my face cleanser and my shampoo. This was great for the hotel between Portugal and Norway. I had no issues getting through security in any of the three airports.

5. Neck pillow and travel kit – Now, I brought just the basic plain neck pillow. I wish I had purchased this one that had eye covers and a machine washable outer part.


Must Haves for Travel: Technology Needs

6. Airpods travel case – I am always losing my Airpods case in my purse, so I wanted to get something easier for me to find. This carrying case also held my back-up headphones in case my Airpods needed to be charged.

7. iPad pro case with stand – I used this in the plane with my Kindle Unlimited to read books during my flight.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

Must Haves for Travel: Items I Wish I Purchased

8. Travel makeup and jewelry organizer – I used small bags I had and split everything up. However, I am going to purchase an organizer that keeps it all together.

9. Packing cubes – I prefer these packing cubes over the compression bags. I had to be careful not to go over 50 pounds on my luggage. It’s easy to do that with compression bags because you can fit more items in your suitcase.

10. Rolling under seat bag – This is going to be my next purchase. The backpack is great, but I need to put the heavier items in something that rolls. Most places allow you a carry-on and a personal item, so I can bring both.

One Way or Another: It Will All Get Done … Or It Won’t.

Things that have pressing deadlines typically get done even when sometimes we have no idea how to make that happen. Even with procrastination, there comes a point where the panic monster sets in due to an upcoming deadline. You may not like the process of staying up all night or feeling rushed, but eventually, it gets done.

However, for me, I have found that method to be extremely stressful and anxiety-producing. I prefer to plan in advance and know my schedule using time management techniques and blocking my calendar. But sometimes, things just sneak up on you.

I moved in May 2020 into my parent’s house with the anticipation of leaving the country in several months. At that time, there were limited options for me to drop off donated items because many places in PA were still closed.

So, I boxed everything up and then brought it with me. Now, many of my items are still in boxes, and I have been meaning to go through them this past year. However, it wasn’t a priority and I didn’t have a deadline to get it done. I was more focused on finishing up my dissertation and working to pay the bills.

Now, I finally got the green light to move to Norway and I’m searching through boxes to find my winter clothes. I cannot find my heavy winter jacket anywhere. So, maybe that’s a sign that I just need to get one once I get there and not weigh down my luggage anymore.

In order to make sure that the things get done that you need to or want to, it’s important to prioritize early and often. Setting weekly or quarterly goals with a detailed action plan can help get you to the finish line.

The reality is, that we figure it out when it comes to the important things. The question is, how do we feel along the way? Are we stressed, frustrated, or focused? Only you can answer that question. For me, it truly depends on the task and type of goal I am trying to accomplish.

Preparing for an International Move: What I’m Doing Now

*Note: I will update this post with advice I’m receiving!

I’m preparing for an international move. Wow, it’s finally happening. I’m moving to Norway in less than a month. Even though I’ve been waiting for the official approval, I thought I would have more time to prepare. So now, it’s time to buckle down and think through my list of to-do items. I think I’m going to start with a brain dump of all the things I can think of and then prioritize what has to happen first.

preparing for an international move
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As I think through my list, I know that I need to get my car cleaned and ready to store temporarily. I have to get a 2 piece luggage set that is durable for international travel. Here is the set I’m thinking of buying:

In the time of covid, I don’t just have to worry about residency permits and passports, but also proof of vaccination and any quarantine requirements. I’m waiting to hear from the agency on some guidance about what to expect once I arrive.

Preparing for an international move: As I’m sitting here thinking, this is what I’ve come up with to do so far:

  1. Buy flights and look into luggage costs
  2. Buy luggage set
  3. Clean out car and set up park insurance
  4. Decide whether to cancel expensive U.S. health insurance plan while I’m gone (benefit of going to a country with universal healthcare)
  5. Make a list of all essential items to pack
  6. Make a list of items I’d like to pack if there is space
  7. Purchase bulk of anything that would be easier to get here like contacts, medicines, toiletries that are cheaper here
  8. Look into international purchases – set up banking there and autopay for bills here

I am sure there is so much more that I’m not thinking of at the moment as I’m preparing for an international move. Thankfully, the organization provided an arrival guide to help upon entry to the country. I just want to make sure I tie up my loose ends here as best as I can.

While I have been waiting to leave for 14 months, life has continued to happen around me and I’ve thankfully had time to reflect and spend with family.

Any advice is appreciated and I’ll be sure to share any helpful travel tips I learn along the way!


Advice for International Travel

Collapsible water bottle – travels well and takes up less space in your luggage

Undercover travel bra pouch to keep important IDs and cash

Travel pouches to help with packing

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