Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Traveling is not just changing place but also ideas


If you have ever come back from an amazing holiday planning to radically change your life you have to know that you are not alone. Some argue that simply depends on the emotion of the moment and are convinced that this effect will pass very soon. However, several studies in psychology suggest that traveling can change us deeply.

In this regard, researchers from the University of Jena have investigated the psychological effects of travels abroad. They worked with a group of German students, half of whom were preparing to go to study abroad, while the other half would have attended university in their country of origin. All students completed a personality test that was repeated at the end of the semester.

The results leave no doubt, traveling changes our personality, affecting five key aspects: emotions, extroversion, kindness, responsibility and openness to new experiences.

Travel changes you forever

1. It turns you into a person more open to new experiences. Anyone who has traveled can confirm that things do not always go as planned. Flights delay, bad weather or other unexpected event may force us to change our plans. Therefore, frequent travelers are often aware that what really matters is not the situation itself, but the way you react to it. For this reason these people are open to new experiences and take a more flexible and spontaneous attitude, they learn to flow with life.

2. You’re less prone to judge the others. People usually do not like what they don’t understand, and criticize it harshly. But when we travel we are exposed to different cultures and ways of thinking that ultimately change our view of the world and erase our stereotypes. Referring to this effect, Mark Twain once said: “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”. But this change only occurs when we truly seek to understand the local culture, when we put ourselves in others' shoes.

3. It boosts your extroversion. Traveling means having to talk to a lot of people we do not know, from the flight attendants and the hotel concierge to the bus driver or the fellow met in the foreign country. In a way, traveling forces us to expose our more outgoing side, so gradually we realize that we always feel more comfortable talking to strangers. This way you end up making new friends and improve your social skills.

4. Your comfort zone is considerably widened. The more we travel, the farther we are willing to go and discover different things. In this way we will gradually expand our comfort zone, until one day we’ll realize that we feel at ease in situations that were previously unthinkable. This is because our brain realizes gradually that there’s nothing wrong or dangerous in venturing beyond the places we know or far from our customs and traditions. By doing so we develop a strong self-confidence that will be very useful in everyday life.

5. It develops creativity. There is nothing like travel, a new landscape, a different architecture or new flavors to enhance creativity. Therefore, people who do a creative work need to travel frequently and on these trips they find new sources of inspiration. In fact, traveling drives us to think outside of the limits and reveals new ways of doing things. In this regard, a study conducted at INSEAD in Fontainebleau has revealed that people who spend time in foreign countries to explore other cultures, not only are faster in solving problems but also find more creative solutions.

6. It makes you appreciate more what you have. Those traveling with the eyes wide open often come back home feeling very grateful. In fact, getting away from the routine of everyday life allows us appreciate the little things we normally take for granted, but that are not. We stop complaining about what we don’t have to begin being thankful for what we have. It is a huge change of perspective that will turn us much happier, because we realize that are no longer happy those who have more, but those who need less.

7. It makes you take your share of responsibility. When we are traveling, especially if we embark alone in these adventures, we realize that each of our actions have consequences. If we are late the flight won’t be postponed for us and if we stay in bed in the morning at the hotel it is likely that we will lose the chance to have breakfast. To these everyday hassles we add that we must learn to manage our lives in a foreign country, probably with a different language and traditions. No doubt, these experiences will make us grow and turn us into more responsable persons.

Finally, remember that you don’t travel to escape life, but because life will not slip off of you.

Neyer, et. Al. (2013) Personality-Relationship Transactions Revisited. Journal of Personality; 82(6): 539-550.
Maddux, W. W. et. Al. (2010) When in Rome . . . Learn Why the Romans Do What They Do: How Multicultural Learning Experiences Facilitate Creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; 36(6): 731–741.


Keep feeding your neurons

Traveling is not just changing place but also ideas
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Jennifer Delgado Suárez

Psicologist by profession and passion, dedicated to to string words together. Discover my Books


Psychology as you never heard about...

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