At least I should be after five years on the road! Because researches have now found that a few months in another country will make you friendlier, more open-minded and more emotionally stable.
The study conducted involved two groups of German university students. One group spent a semester studying abroad. The other group spent it studying in their home country. They were given personality tests prior to the semester and at the end of the year when the students had returned.
What they found was that the students who spent their semester abroad had a significant change in their personality. They became more open, considerate and emotionally stable than they had been prior to leaving. While the ones that stayed in Germany, had little change in the personality.
So, after all of the years I have spent abroad, have I also experienced these changes in my personality?
Let us start with open-minded. For sure I can argue that travelling and living abroad have made me more open-minded. This because I have experienced that in order to survive in a foreign culture, you have to learn how to adapt to change. When you arrive to a new country, everything is new. The language, the food, and the social norms. When being in a new environment like this for an extended period of time, you are forced to expand your view and open your mind to a new way of seeing and doing things. Many things (from religion to food) that I though was stupid before starting to travel, I except today.
That being said, have travelled made me friendlier? More specifically the researchers found that while spending a number of months in another country the students became nicer, more sympathetic and more cooperative. While travelling you are forced to meet and interact with a variety of people. People you probably do not interact with at home. I think that this multicultural experience forces you to put yourself in other people’s shoes and take into consideration viewpoints different from your own. If I for example had not been to Nigeria and got to know the people there and their sufferings due to the conflict and Boko Haram, I would not sympathies as much when seeing news of bombs and killings from the country. Or I would maybe not care about an asylum seeker in Norway, that comes from similar conditions. Today I will understand his suffering.
While I think for sure living with people from different cultures, teach you to cooperate and work well with others. At least for me doing so helped me to be able to cooperate despite cultural differences. Which before was hard for me.
And then to the third and last: emotional stable. I am actually not sure how emotional stable I am. Last week my dog was hit by a car, and I was hysterical! Against all odds, he survived. Had to have an operation to be able to walk again. I did not eat, work, or sleep, as I was very worried. However, what I am sure of is that spending a significant amount of time in a foreign culture throws whatever problems you may have into perspective. You start realizing how big the world is and how small your problems are in comparison.
During my travels, I have for sure learned to really appreciate what I have. For example be really happy that my dog is still alive, and I try to focus on that, and not that we are going through a hard time. I have learned not to complain a lot about small stuff. After seeing how much people suffer around the world, I understand that I am one of the luckiest persons on earth, and try to remind myself that. My problems are nothing compared to the problems most of the other people I have met abroad have. Before I started to travel I though my problems was the centre and the most important thing in the world – from small to big problems. Today, I understand they are not!
So I guess we can conclude with that travel have made me friendlier, more open-minded and emotionally stable. And so have it probably made you if you have been abroad for a longer time, or will make you if you are planning to do so.
Do you think that travel have made you a better person? If so, in which ways?