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Living Abroad Increases Creativity

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Wednesday, 16 September, 2009

Content One of the websites I visit recently posted about how living abroad increases creativity. A described experiment revealed how more subjects who had lived abroad were successful in completing a task than those who had never lived abroad. More interestingly for me was the following quote, which reminds me of Moleskine's marketing message about their "legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two century".

Anecdotal evidence has long held that creativity in artists and writers can be associated with living in foreign parts. Rudyard Kipling, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Paul Gauguin, Samuel Beckett and others spent years dwelling abroad.From the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Taipo Waterfront Park

Aligning travel and creativity has always been a no-brainer for me, since new experiences must undoubtedly form the basis for inspiring some forms of creativity.

Actually 'living' somewhere foreign seemingly reveals more in-depth experiences since more time is spent on a day-to-day basis immersed in a different culture.

A difference between 'travel' and 'living' can be seen in how accessible a foreign culture has become. I fully appreciate the chance to live in Hong Kong - a bonus since it's also my parent's home country, though still foreign to me.

Living in a foreign country is definitely a jump above a short holiday since more preparations are needed, together with more admin - not to mention a different mindset. But this comes part and parcel with immersing yourself in a different culture.

Visiting other East Asia countries has also exposed us to experiences in other foreign cultures in a short space of time. We've now lived in Hong Kong for six months and in that time visited Vietnam, Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul.

There's no denying that exposure to all these cultures in person are providing lots of interesting experiences and great content to write about in my travel blog mangovine.net. Along the way, my perspective on work and life is changing also as I absorb influences from ideas I see.

On the whole, everything builds upon knowledge that we each already have. For example, lots of us will have seen and absorbed visuals of Japan on TV and the net, but I found that visiting Tokyo puts all that knowledge in context, particularly with a first hand experience of the culture. Now, recalling Harujuku for instance, is easier and far more personal, having been there myself.

I find that this kind of recollection is key when considering creativity since it can help to flesh out an idea or approach it from a different angle. On the other hand, I find that this can also help to cancel out options. With life, living how the Hong Kong people live won't necessarily mean I adopt their ways, but may mean seeing how I live in the UK in a different light.

How has travel increased your creativity?

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