Scientists call a baby’s brain the ultimate tabula rasa, or blank slate. Everything that makes our culture uniquely ours, such as language, traditions, customs, etc. are imprinted on a growing child as part of the nurturing process. Children that grow up bilingual tend to pick up a third and fourth language easily; similar to this, I believe that a child that grows up immersed in more than one culture is more readily able to adapt to a new country and culture. We are created to be able to adapt to any situation and culture – it is really amazing. I could go on and on about the plasticity of the newborn’s mind…but I will save that for a more technical neuroscience entry in the future.
Back to this article: having spent my formative years in Singapore and on Long Island and being forced to adapt again and again in new cultures such as the armed forces, Rochester, and now London, I like to think of myself as a sort of cultural chameleon. What do I mean by “cultural chameleon”?