What are the most important life lessons you learned from traveling and living abroad? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Katherine Maher, Executive Director at the Wikimedia Foundation, on Quora:

I'm not sure there's anything profoundly earth-shattering below, and it's a partial list, but the world has done me well, from Cairo to Kyiv to Delhi, and I'm grateful for all that I've learned and experienced.

  • Mobility is a privilege.
  • Be curious but alert.
  • Spontaneity and fortune favor the prepared.
  • Show some respect, and you'll earn it in kind.
  • Failure is always a learning opportunity.
  • Chutzpah gets you many places. So does feigned ignorance.
  • Build community and community will always be there for you.
  • Everything looks better in the morning, except those grimy sheets.
  • Your health is the most important thing you have.
  • You're more likely to regret not doing it.
  • Don't walk through life with headphones on - at the worst, it's quite dangerous, at the best, you miss everything around you.
  • It's comfortable to hang with your own kind, but you won't learn much.
  • Commit to memory, not to camera.
  • If the worst possible answer is "no," you should probably ask the question.
  • Wear what makes you feel confident and prepared. Not your most comfortable, or your most chic. You never know where you'll wind up. Make it a uniform.
  • Speaking of, say yes to chance invitations (unless your gut is yelling "no" -- in which case, run).
  • The very wealthy are different than you and me. But they sure are interesting.
  • People are people, pretty much everywhere. Ask them about their family.
  • Eat the street food, but only at the places with the long lines.
  • Americans smile a lot, which can be a blessing (you're friendly!) or a curse (you're not that bright!) -- use that knowledge accordingly.
  • All systems have their patterns, from cities to politics.
  • People are not their governments.
  • Intergenerational living is rich and rewarding.
  • The best and worst decisions both often occur at 3am.
  • You have to fight for your values and your rights. You must reassert them continuously.
  • Accept the handful of pistachios.
  • Be kind.
  • Never leave home without ID.

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Published on: Oct 3, 2017