Chameleons can blend into their surroundings. Some species of fish have their eyes on the side of their head so that they can lay on the ground and blend in; and bats have a keen ability to see at night to fly around and catch their prey.
What these all have in common is that they adapt in some way to their surroundings as a means for survival. Us as humans aren’t that much different. While we can’t really change what we look like (except for the occasional trip to a plastic surgeon, or these strange whitening creams that seem to be prevalent all over Asia), we learn to adapt to our surroundings by adopting customs, learning new languages, observing, etc. Often these adaptations take a great deal of work, or study–such is my experience with the Thai traffic rules. However, some sneak up on you and you end up adopting things you didn’t even notice.
Today I was asked where I was from by a Thai waitress. When I responded America she seemed surprised. She continued by saying “Oh I thought you were Spanish, because you have a Spanish accent when you speak English.” Consider for a moment that this girl has never met me before, doesn’t know that I’m obsessed with speaking Spanish, or that I lived in Spain, or even that my iPod was quietly jamming to Reggaton through my left ear bud as we spoke. So why is this the ~15th time someone has has the same confusion? My native language is English, however, for the past year I’ve been living 70% at least in Spanish, and now I live in Asia where 95% of the people I speak to are non-native English speakers. Apparently I have adapted by adopting an accent? Maybe I speak slower and more clearly this way. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am more than thrilled to be confused for a Spaniard, but it is quite a strange turn of events that it is now my English that confuses people in addition to my Spanish. I wonder what other interesting mannerisms I will adopt while I am out here–only time will tell!