We third-culture kids (TCK) have grown up everywhere. We may not have one home, but we can swear in 10 different languages. We have friends across the seven continents. Moving around has not always been easy for me, but it has taught me invaluable life lessons.
Here’s what I’ve learned from growing up as a TCK:
- New Friends Help Define Who You Are.
Growing up in international schools and different countries, you see friends come and go. The one thing that I’ve learned from this (besides those 20 swear words in Greek and Belgian) is that you HAVE to open up to new people, take in their culture, learn from them. You’ll thank them later.
- Culture Shock Is Not Really “Shocking”, But Still Has an Impact.
Adjusting to new cultures can leave you disoriented. We TCKs have managed to master cultural adaptation. We learn new languages and traditions like nobody’s business and we don’t shy away from them. However, it still affects us.
I was born in Argentina and I speak with an Argentine accent. I am definitely not Spanish. Yet, after living 14 years abroad, I know more about Spain than my own country.
Every time I return to Argentina, I feel increasingly detached from my family’s culture. So yes, trying to discern where we’re from and who we are takes a toll on us.
- Home is Wherever You Go and What You Make Out of It.
TCKs get to build their home and take it with them. It isn’t defined by physical or political frontiers. We are global nomads. What matters is what we take with us and what we make out of it. Our homes are not made of markings on a wall showing how much we grew over the years, but of the new friends and memories we make where ever we go. Then when it is time to leave, we pack up our thing and memories and get ready to set up our home at our new destination.