A paper published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes this March confirms what we’ve known all along: living abroad is good for you! Hajo Adam and his fellow researchers took a look at how delving into a new culture can help you know yourself better. The paper, “The shortest path to oneself leads around the world,” claims that living in a new place increases self clarity. This is because you can reflect on your own desires and behavior better when you’re out of your usual cultural context. Interestingly, the study found that it was more beneficial to live in one foreign country for a long time than to live in many countries briefly.
This research is the latest in a trend of studies that have found that experiences in foreign countries enhance creativity, reduce biases between groups, and lead to career success. As the paper sums up, “Leaving one’s home country for extended periods of time likely allows people to reap the numerous benefits that a clear sense of self provides.” Studying abroad is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a new culture for a long time, at a crucial time for self reflection and clarity!