There’s no doubt that foreign travel juices your sensitivities. We are socialized under stringent conditions and the narrow parameters of our tribe, race, nationality, geography and religion. Rapid acculturation by travel is a relatively new phenomenon for the fortunate citizens of developed economies, we take it for granted. Being removed from your comfort zone can produce a variety of effects on certain individuals. I’ve witnessed people experience euphoria, culture shock, Peter Pan syndrome, uncharacteristic bouts of drug, alcohol and moral abuse, to the extreme, troppo.
Consider that your environmental influences have suddenly changed and that your mind and body are forced to make a radical transition in a relatively short period of time. The process isn’t automatic and doesn’t evolve in exactly the same way for everyone. The experience is known to create heightened states of anxiety in some resulting from the perceived distress of having to deal with everyday tasks in a new way, from using bottled water to brush your teeth and language issues to squat toilets. We’ve all seen the ‘poster child’ who s gone from pasty accountant to Rastafarian in the space of a two week holiday.
But consider Jerusalem Syndrome or Stendhal Syndrome, these altered states of location induced psychosis can manifest quickly into long lasting religious revelations and may otherwise produce amazing and conversely alarming results in the traveler. This gives a whole new meaning to ‘losing oneself in the moment’. I have traveled extensively throughout my life and tried unsuccessfully to lose my identity at times. I always came away better for the experience but never having lost my Canadian identity.