Those who don't often travel (or internationally) overlook one skill which needs to be learned while abroad when it comes to communications. This skill is learning to communicate with people over multiple time zones.
Thankfully, the time difference between Toronto and Tianjin is exactly 12 hours (same length as a direct flight), and makes whatever time you have in Tianjin 12 hours ahead of Toronto. 8am here is 8pm/20:00 there.
Knowing if a country is ahead or behind your time is important. You don't want to be messaging people outside of business hours if you're abroad for work, or while they're asleep if visiting for pleasure.
I've really started to become conscious of my "Live Global" mantra. Live global applies to both myself and my network. There is no reason not to have international contacts. Here are the locations of a few of my contacts:
1. I've reconnected over social media with a friend I met in Toronto, who now lives back in Japan (Tokyo), which is 1 hour ahead of Beijing time.
2. My virtual assistant is located near Mumbai, India 2 hours and 30 minutes behind Beijing.
3. I had a friend visiting Budapest, Hungary which is 6 hours behind Beijing.
4. Friends in Vancouver, B.C which is 15 hours behind Beijing.
5. A colleague was recently visiting the U.K. and while he was there he was 7 hours behind Beijing.
6. Family in Toronto which is 12 hours behind Beijing.
Having a network is good for travel support, cultural exposure and access to local information. Keeping the time around the world in mind is much easier if you work on 24 hour time versus 12 hour. The 24 hour period prevents easy mix ups of am/pm, and assists in easier math when calculating time differences. Many people find 24 hour time confusing but it's really quite simple. The first way is to take the time above 12 noon (13-24), and subtract 12, the remaining number is the time. Or, an alternative method than flat out subtracting 12, is drop the first digit and minus 2 off the second ie. 19:00, drop the '1', minus 2 from 9 becomes 7pm. It is the actual process of subtraction rather than the counting.
Smartphones and software have done a good job of accommodating time zones in calendars but a poor job (to my knowledge) within messaging apps. The apps could show you: "Local time: 11:37am" for example underneath the contact name. Of course such a feature would be geo-location based. Phones do come with a 'clock' type app which keeps records of such data. Having a couple contacts abroad is no problem to check once and a while. But having a lot of contacts in diverse regions may require consist referencing. This is redundant and could easily be eliminated via software update.
Building a global network will provide numerous advantages which are not advertised upfront and must be sculpted and mounded to reach their peak. Life has much more perspective once you go global; it changes your imagination, provides exposure and builds character.
Work Mobile. Consume Local. Live Global.