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Expat insights: do you have the ‘wanderlust gene’?

By September 15, 2016October 17th, 2023finglobal.com

Expat insights: do you have the ‘wanderlust gene’?

September 15, 2016

Do you love travelling and visiting new countries? Can you call more than just one country your home? If so, you’ll probably find you have what scientists call the ‘wanderlust gene’, a variant of a gene called DRD4 which controls dopamine, a chemical brain messenger which plays an important role in learning and reward. Dopamine is responsible for that ‘warm glow’ we associate with pleasure and motivation.

Change could make you happy

Those people with the longer (seven-repeat) version of DRD4, that is the DRD4-7r gene, require more dopamine in order to get that warm, happy feeling.  Only 20 per cent of the population carry this variant and are found to be those people more likely to take risk, explore new places, new food and new ideas. These people with the wanderlust gene embrace change, movement, adventure and novelty.

The good news is that people with the longer variant tend to live longer as they’re more inclined to be out and about hiking or exploring, looking for some sort of stimulation in order to activate a satisfying level of dopamine. People with the shorter version of the gene can achieve the same ‘high’ negotiating traffic on the school run.

Migration and the DRD4-7r gene

One study has investigated the frequency of the DRD4-7r gene in migratory populations and has found it is more frequently found in those populations that have migrated furthest from the cradle of civilisation.

The wanderlust gene thrives in environments of change and tends to die out or weaken when there is stability. So it’s not surprising that if the wanderlust gene is strong in you, it will be equally strong in your children – especially if you’ve spent their childhood moving from place to place.

There is a term for children who spend their childhood growing up in cultures different to their own, they’re third culture children and typically face issues children with one home have no grasp of.

The question “Where are you from?” can carry all sort of convoluted explanations – beginning with, “Well I was born in South Africa but spent eight years in the UK and then moved to Australia”. These children often feel displaced between their home culture and their host culture – and the feeling is stronger within them if they have grandparents and cousins still residing in their home culture. Or if they make annual trips ‘home’ for Christmas and other celebrations.

Today, technology like Skype and WhatsApp helps bridge the gap between friends and loved ones many miles apart. The one thing third culture children grow up knowing for sure, is that friendships and love literally can span thousands of miles.

After living abroad and being exposed to a diversity of cultures, it’s only natural these third generation children will continue to push the boundaries. After all, they have very little knowledge of the ties that can bind one to a home-town where everyone is familiar and literally knows your name.

The big advantage that people with the wanderlust gene have is they tend to be more flexible and quickly adapt to diverse business environments and different cultures. Born to think on their feet, people with the wanderlust gene react more quickly to the changing pace of today’s global village than those employees who’ve lived their whole life in their village.

Third culture children are probably the most adaptable of all, as making connections and networking in unfamiliar environments is one of their many skills. So it’s not surprising that they’re sought after in today’s multinational business world.

Are you ready to explore the unknown?

If your wanderlust gene is strong and you’re looking to emigrate and explore new countries, just leave your details and we’ll help you on the path to financial freedom in your new home.
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