The illustration is courtesy of the author.

Are we really that different from one another because we come from different countries? Read to find out if culture around us changes our personality.

So, the changes in her personality came from her maturing and were not affected by her years in Germany. To me, she was not associated with her later-acquired nationality. She was associated with the girl I remember, yet, I knew I was different in many ways even though, I didn’t move to another country at such a young age. That made me think, if her case is true, countries don’t change who we are, people and experiences do.

A few days ago I met up with a girl whom I used to be good friends with when we were children. When she was eight, her parents decided to move to Germany for work, and they did. Considering that back then, we didn’t have such developed social media tools as we do now, and generally speaking, my generation did not grow up savvy in the realms of gadgets and social media, and we lost touch. As it often happens with kids, we quickly moved on with our lives; her family adapted German culture and she and her siblings quickly assimilated, and I proceeded with the track I was on only to find myself on a plane to Tel Aviv many years later. Long story short, I haven’t seen her in sixteen years!
A few years ago, we befriended each other on Facebook and would exchange messages from time to time, but obviously, the experience of personal interaction significantly differs from the one of the messenger. Thus, only after I met her for coffee in one of coastal coffee shops in Tel Aviv, I had a chance to learn about the person she has become. We weren’t tackling any sublime or bold topics that would be risky for two people who were re-introducing each other, yet the conversation quickly turned into a rather person dialogue between two friends.

What was truly astounding is how similar she was to that girl I had a recollection of in my head. Aside from her accent being slightly harsh on consonants, she had the same body language, the same application of speech figures, the same openness. By the way, she conducted herself I could tell with certainty that she was still the same person, albeit a bigger, wiser version of herself. Well, it would’ve been weird if she had thinking and attitude of an eight-year-old after all these years.

So, the changes in her personality came from her maturing and were not affected by her years in Germany. To me, she was not associated with her later-acquired nationality. She was associated with the girl I remember, yet, I knew I was different in many ways even though, I didn’t move to another country at such a young age. That made me think, if her case is true, countries don’t change who we are, people and experiences do.  I know, what changed me was a phycological trauma that was a direct consequence of the situations I have encountered, and it had nothing to do with a particular country.

While surfing the internet for answers, I stumbled across a couple of articles that further proved my guess; scientifically speaking, there is no evidence that immigration affects personality. It does change habits, but that’s about it. While immigration or a particular environment may exacerbate some conditions, it doesn’t stimulate our brains to reboot our personalities.
While delving into a further research on the subject to understand what does, I found a couple of articles that explained why I changed and why my personal circumstances had a greater impact on me than my friend’s immigration on her.

More and more I hear people refer to foreigners as different. There are different because they don’t speak the same language. They are different because they grew up in a different culture or religion. While there is certainly some truth to that as out cultural and religious heritage adjust the way we posit ourselves in society, there are arguments that point out that our personalities don’t originate from a particular culture but our experiences and to be more precise, the way those experiences affected us. Many of us deal with similar things and emotions through the course of our lives regardless of our location, so maybe we should reconsider the concept of “foreign” and narrow it down to geographical borders rather than human alienation?

To learn about what may change one’s personality and in what way, please click the links:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201212/trauma-resets-personality

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/traumatic-stress-and-human-behavior

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-embodied-mind/201208/the-body-in-the-mind

 

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