Getting A Hair Cut While Living Abroad: Quick Tips For a Pleasant Experience

“You’re only as good as your last haircut.”-Fran Lebowitz

Hey YOU! Get a Hair Cut!

If you’re a long term travel junkie like me, inevitably there will come a point when you need to look decent, quit scaring the locals, and get a hair cut.

Unless you cut your own hair, this can be an interesting experience depending on your language abilities.

Every country has their own ideas on what it deems stylish and appealing, so unless you like getting a fro hawk in the Czech Republic, you better know how to ask for the style you want.

If your language skills don’t suffice, the easiest is to take a few good pictures with different angles of your most stylish cut, and load them on your I-Phone or any other hand-held device you may have. Make some funny faces even, get the other person to laugh when they see them. Just come in, say hello and point to your phone. If they make a weird face, chances are they may not be able to pull off your cut. If they smile and give you the thumbs up, plop into the chair and hope for the best.

Three Quick Tips

Not knowing the native language can make for some awkward silence, to make it a more pleasant experience keep these few tips in mind.

1. Smile: Smiling is infectious, if you can’t speak to the hair stylist, get them in a good mood by flashing them a big smile in the mirror.

2. Be prepared to not get what you want: Don’t show your disappointment if your hair does not come out the way you expected. It’s another situation of being lost in translation. Just remember that sporting a goofy hair cut will now be a part of your adventure.

3. Try and communicate as much as possible: This is one more chance for you to use any words or phrases you may know. Don’t worry about sounding silly,the stylist will appreciate your efforts. Use and exaggerate your body language to get your point across.

If you experience a truly horrific hair cut, remember it’s not permanent, brush it off, maybe even literally :). This will just be one more common thing that becomes a tad more difficult living abroad. Learn to embrace these little challenges, they will end up adding color to your day.

If you would like to know how to really learn to speak another language, check out my friend Benny’s unconventional “language hacking” course, on how you can become conversationally fluent in as little as 3 months. Benny speaks 8 languages fluently, so he knows a thing or two about learning to speak quickly. Currently I am learning Korean and his methods have already helped out greatly.

Hope you enjoyed my little post, if you did please pass it along to your friends.

(editors note: there are some affiliate links, if you decide to purchase you are directly supporting my dream of being a full time writer, thanks a bunch in advance)

6 Responses to Getting A Hair Cut While Living Abroad: Quick Tips For a Pleasant Experience

  1. I had an interesting haircut experience overseas in a country that speaks fairly good English (Copenhagen, DK). The biggest issue was that most Danes have straight hair, and I have thick, wavy hair that’s layered. I went to a beauty school because the exchange rate was killing us, but even the instructor couldn’t cut a straight line, nor could she get my layers even! (Thing is, we didn’t know it at the time — I just had a feeling that something “just wasn’t right” with my cut.)

    All in all, it was a fine experience, though, and I still looked normal after the cut. And it was yet another way to connect with the locals!

  2. “If you experience a truly horrific hair cut, remember it’s not permanent”

    This is the most important thing to remember. I had to get a haircut in Indonesia once and it wasn’t that great. I didn’t speak the language at the time so it was very difficult to communicate how I liked it cut. I ended up with a cut that didn’t suit me but it was a fun experience.

    My wife who is Indonesian frequently complains that no one here in the US knows how to cut Asian hair except an Asian. Your 3 tips are great and good advice for anything you might do while living abroad.

  3. Great article, Ivan! I’ve had haircuts in both India and Vietnam, both places I don’t speak the local language, and I’ve found that even choosing the actual place that you’re going to sit down to get your hair cut is a great exercise in using your intuition. Probably the thing I love the most about traveling in countries where I don’t speak the language is the fact that I get to play charades with strangers just about every day — and I really love charades :-). You’ve got to be willing to be laughed at, and once you get over yourself, you’ll have a blast!

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