Hey guys as this is the only place I can write in 100% my own voice thought I’d jot a few of these down as they came to me.
1) There’s a language barrier membrane on the internet between the English-speaking world and non-English speaking world. (Related, we tend to think all educated people speak English, and that’s sooooo false.) We think information flows freely, but if you speak and write Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, you consume media from an almost entirely separate silo. That’s why things that are obvious in Asia (like that that hot pot restaurant you though was so special is actually a chain) are “revelations” in the west , and vice versa (no one in Taiwan has heard of CrossFit and everyone in Taiwan and Hong Kong fears fat, so there’s no half-and-half to be found).
2) Immersion in strange environments, particularly non-english-speaking environments is good stress, but it’s stress. Just like stretching in exercise you want to extend your ability to stay in a yoga pose/run distance/lift weight/etc, but there’s also such a thing as overtraining, and you need rest and recovery.
3) Every reason you think you’re a badass at home turns out to be worthless in a foreign country – and that’s beneficial for your ego. You learn to be suspicious of thinking you’re the reason things – social interactions, business, etc – go well back home and to give luck and context their proper credit.
4) International travel is harsh. Not even first class passengers escape extra security screenings, hour-long waits on the tarmac in a snow storm while the clock ticks down to midnight, when they close the roads, customs, long waits at baggage claim, etc. (At least in coach we’re a hearty stock.) For people who do it as a profession, it’s great – they get to see the world and everything – but it’s a JOB. Only walking into your own apartment, finding it clean, and feeling your blood pressure return to normal for the first time in 48 hours do you realize the hardness of the road.