Monday, 31 December 2012

The Winner is a Third Culture Kid living in Norway

I promised to let you know today who the winner was of the Christmas Giveaway 2012. Well the winner of a signed copy the book Fly Away Home by Maggie Mykleburst is a Dutch third culture kid Mama T, she is living in Norway, just like the author of the book. Congratulations Mama T! Please send me your email address or leave it in the comment so that I can contact you. Thanks again to Maggie for donating the book and agreeing to the interview.

Oliebollen and appelflappen by DrieCulturen
While I am writing this post I can hear the sound of fireworks, as midnight comes closer the noise will increase. It's raining outside now, not ideal weather for fireworks. Traditionally we shoot carbide on the last day of the year. Have you ever heard of it? I wrote about carbide shooting a year ago. Last year I was on our family farm in Friesland watching and listening to the carbide explosions in the milk cans. This year I am at home and we will eat home oliebollen and appelflappen. Some kind of oil dumpling and an oil dumpling filled with apple. When I grew up in Africa I still remember eating oliebollen on the shores of Lake Malawi. The oliebollen were cooked on a wooden stove, quite a task but it resulted in great memories of Dutch traditions abroad.

I hope you all enjoy your new year's eve and I wish you a rich multicultural new year where ever you are and where ever you will be going!

(Mama T you can send me an email at thanks).

Thursday, 27 December 2012

May You Have a Rich Multicultural Year in 2013

I'm dreaming of ice skating: photo by DrieCulturen
I really wanted to write a Christmas wish this year but before I knew it I was too late. So before new year's eve hits us I want to wish you all a rich multicultural year wherever you are at the moment and wherever you will be going in the year ahead.

Thank you for reading this post. Thank you to everyone I have connected with this past year through this blog, twitter or facebook. I enjoy life a little more through all the new encounters. As a way of expressing my gratefulness there's a giveaway available here on this blog. If you are interested in winning a free signed copy of Maggie Mykleburst's book "Fly Away Home" leave a comment before the 31st of December 2012.

Looking back over 2012 here are 10 things I am excited about:
  1. Connecting with so many interesting people this year.
  2. A new book that was published "Expat Teens Talk" by Lisa Pittman and Diana Smit. Here's my book review.
  3. A new mentoring program for expat teens that has been started called Sea Change Mentoring. Here's an interview I had with Ellen, the initiator.
  4. Discovering a great third culture kid poem: "Who Am I?" written by Marina Sofia.
  5. In honour of my blog's first anniversary that TCK author Heidi Sand-Hart agreed to an interview and to give away a signed copy of her book "Home Keeps Moving". If you missed the interview do read it.
  6. I was on the radio on two different occasions this year talking about my experience growing up abroad as a third culture kid. Here is the interview on "Een DrieCulturen kind voelt zich eigenlijk nergens thuis. Here is the interview on Expat Radio "Niet weten waar je thuishoort, je bent wellicht een TCK!" Both are in Dutch.
  7. The blog post with third culture kid Victoria saying "I am not from Anywhere" received the most comments this year.
  8. This blog was nominated for a couple of awards: The Versatile blogger award, Blog Expat Top Award , I'm not a tourist expat blog competition.
  9. I really liked this guest blog by Libby Stephens "Grandparenting over the seas".
  10. Daily there are people from more than 10 different countries in the world reading blog posts here. The last 24 hours people from the USA, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, Israel, New Zealand, Germany, France, India and Austria were here. It's a small world after all! It's exciting.
I need to share something funny. The top search word that people search for and reach my blog is the word "tjendol". I was really surprised. In this post I shared 7 things about myself. This is what I wrote: one of my favourite drinks is: Tjendol (or Cendol), in good Indonesian restaurants you can get it here in the Netherlands. It's just divine. It's with coconut milk and palm sugar. Lesson learned: you're never too old to taste something new. I thought the top search word might be "expat" or "third culture kids" but no "tjendol" is the word that won this year. Sometimes things just work out differently than you expected.

Looking back are there things that you are excited about? What are you grateful for?

Ps. remember to leave a comment and have a chance at winning a free signed copy of Maggie's book.

Here's some advice from Maggie for third culture kids: "Although I think it's great to consider yourself a citizen of the world, I still think its important to know where you come from. To feel a sense of pride and belonging to your passport country."

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Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Christmas Giveaway "Fly Away Home"

Maggie Mykleburst is the author of the book "Fly Away Home". It's actually a great title for a giveaway at this time of year. Isn't it what we all want to do at Christmas: fly home! Sometimes the question is where's home? Maggie was born and raised on the Jersey Shore. She is married to a Norwegian and they have lived as expats in Houston and the Netherlands.

The giveaway is a signed copy of Maggie's book, it will be send to you.Thank you so much Maggie for providing the giveaway and for answering my questions. I really enjoyed reading the answers, I hope you do too. To enter the giveaway leave a comment at the end of this post before the 31st of December 2012. I will draw a name from a hat and publish the name of the winner here on the blog on the 31st. The competition is closed now.

What was the reason that you were living abroad?
I’m actually still living abroad. I was born in the US and moved to Norway with my three children in 1988. I married a Norwegian and had two more children. My husbands job took us to Houston in 2005, where I became an expat in my own country. In 2007 we moved to the Netherlands, in 2010 we returned Norway.

Please tell us about your book "Fly Away Home".
Fly Away home is a memoir of my life. It starts before I was born, with my grandmother’s struggle to leave Norway and move to America. Years later, in a cruel twist of fate, I was forced to flee America with three young children and relocate in Norway. The story continues as I strive to find identity, happiness and love. 

What inspired you to write your book?

I was inspired by the need to tell my side of what is at times, a very complicated story. To explain to my children and to future generations of my family the decisions I made, and why I made them.

Many people want to write a book someday, but you did it! Who was your inspiration and what was the key to your success?
It started with scrapbooking, putting the events of my life together with pictures. I wasn’t a writer, but I knew I had a story to tell. Then while living in the Netherlands, I attended a ‘Write Your Life Stories’ class, which definitely helped put me on course.

What's your advice for other people or third culture kids wanting to write a book?
Don’t pressure yourself. Make an outline of your story and then take it one chapter at a time. You’ll be surprised how memories come flooding back. I had to keep a pad and pencil with me at all times.(If you don’t write things down on the spot, there’s a good chance they’ll disappear) Don’t get yourself tied up with trying to write like a professional, let it flow naturally. Later, a good editor can help you polish it up and it’s not as hard as you think to self publish.

Do you have any interesting new projects and the moment?
I’m taking an advanced writing class in Norwegian, who knows maybe someday I’ll be able to translate my own book into another language. (Big dream)

What did you most like about living abroad?
What was most difficult?

I’ll start with the most difficult... Learning to talk Norwegian! I only lived in the Netherlands for three years and didn’t feel the need to learn the language. But I’ve made Norway my home and my husband is Norwegian, so learning the language was a must.
What I like most about living abroad is all the new people I’ve met and the different experiences I’ve had.

How did living abroad influence your choice of career or study?
There would most likely be no book if I had not left America, since my book is mostly about having to start over. I probably wouldn’t have studied Norwegian either.

You parented cross-culture kids, what was that like?
After moving to Norway in 1988, my three older children had to spend summers in America with their father and that was hard. Two of those children moved back to America after finishing school, so now I have children in two countries. MY two youngest children were born in Norway, but after living in the Netherlands for three years they had difficulties readjusting to the move home. All of my children like to travel, they have compassion for others, an interest that extends beyond borders and a variety of friends from different cultures. I’m proud to be the mother of five, cross-culture kids.

Which languages do you speak? Do you have advice on learning languages for families living abroad now?
I speak English, Norwegian and can read a Dutch menu (hehe). If you’re living in a country temporarily and have the time, its always good to learn a new language. If you’ve made a new country your permanent home, then in order to fit in, I think it’s important to learn the language.

Do you have advice for families with children making international moves?
Listen and be supportive, but chances are they’ll adjust to their new surroundings faster than you. Mine went to school, joined sports and made new friends before I knew my way around the grocery store.
When and where did you first hear of the term “third culture kid (TCK)? How did you hear of it?
My children had very little trouble adjusting to living abroad, the problem for us came when it was time to move home again. They didn’t want to leave their ‘new’ life. It broke my heart when my son told me he no longer felt like a Norwegian or an American and that his ‘home’ was in the Netherlands. In looking for information to help, I came across the phrase ‘third culture kid‘ and was amazed by what I’d read. My son still refers to himself as a citizen of the world instead of a Norwegian or an American.
Do you have advice for TCKs or adult third culture kids (ATCKs

Although I think its great to consider yourself a citizen of the world, I still think its important to know where you come from. To feel a sense of pride and belonging to your passport country.

What characteristics have you developed or do you think you have developed due to living abroad?
Living and traveling far from home has definitely made me more adventurous and self reliant. It has also taught me to be more openminded and respectful of people from other cultures.

How was it to return to your “home country”?
This is a tricky question for me to answer. Although I’m American and proud of it, Norway is my home country now. Its where my house is, its where I live and it felt good to return.

With which countries do you feel a bond? Where’s home?
I feel a bond with the Netherlands, I will always be an American and Norway is my home.

Seeing as you lived in the Netherlands too: what is your funniest memory of the Netherlands? Anything you miss from here?
The first week we were there I was tired, cold (we had just come from Texas) and confused (didn’t know my way around or anything about Holland). With our kitchen supplies still in boxes, we took the children to McDonalds for dinner one evening. After receiving our order and finding a table, we started to eat. Realizing the girl had forgotten to give us ketchup and not seeing a self serve station, I went back and asked for some.
Me: “Could I have some ketchup, please?”
Her: “How many packets would you like?”
Me: “I don’t know, just give me a handful.”
Her: “Okay, that will be two euro’s please.”
Me: “What?! I have to pay for Ketchup?!”
Her: “Yes, 25 cents each.”
I paid the girl, went back to our table and start yelling at my husband (like a loud American) “Can you believe I had to pay for Ketchup? I’ve never paid for a ketchup packet before. What kind of country is this?!”

What I miss most about the Netherlands is riding my bike everywhere (here in Norway there are few bike paths and lots of mountains). I also miss buying fresh cut flowers every week (here in Norway flowers are mostly imported and therefore expensive). I miss the tulip fields in the spring and the park (De Horsten) which was directly across the street from where we lived. I miss shopping in the Hague, the market in Leiden, the beach in Scheveningen and the charm of Wassenaar. I miss everything (except paying for ketchup, hehe). Luckily I still have friends there and visit quite often.
Thank you!

If you are interested there is more information on Maggie's website You can find her on twitter too @flyawayhomebook. The competition is closed. The winner is a  Dutch third culture kid living in Norway.

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Dealing with Third Culture Kids

Some time ago I wrote the post Counselors be curious about the upbringing of third culture kids. I received a comment from Elfie and she wrote about her experiences with therapists: Counseling a TCK. Of all the therapists she had there was not one who knew the term "third culture kids". It's sad that therapists do not know what kind of challenges we face. Luckily there are some that do know! There is an International Therapist Directory. Maybe that can help.

On the Children's Mental Health Network website I came across an interesting article The Trouble with Third Culture Kids. Here's part of what it said:

"Rebecca Grappo, an educational consultant who specializes in the placement of these children, says there are three basic things all children need:  belonging, recognition and connection.  For TCKs, these basic needs are ripped away with each move.  Powerless in the decision to relocate, their many losses are often not acknowledged even by their own parents, and the main problem is unspoken, unrecognized, shunted aside.

It looks like depression, but it’s not.  This is the face of TCK grief.

And, according to Ruth Van Reken, unresolved grief is the most urgent mental health issue facing TCKs -- the children as well as the adults they will become."

So there are many losses that third culture kids go through. There's grief. There's something that looks like depression. Maybe sometimes it is a depression. There's a good article on Denizen "Dealing with depression as a TCK student". The article includes 5 tips on how to stay mentally healthy as a TCK when you are feeling challenged.

This week I read a post by a third culture kid called Hippie in Bloom. A friend of hers who also grew up making international moves as a child wrote: “I don’t like it much. Life would’ve been much easier if I were one of those people who never left the country and didn’t care about stuff.” 

The problem is that we can not change the past, so we need to find a way to deal with it. I think that's one of the challenges that we, (adult) third culture kids have to face.

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Image thanks to grietgriet at Morgue File

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

I would love some feedback on my blog

December is a festive month. It's the month of celebrations. Seeing as the month has just started let's celebrate. We actually celebrated Sinterklaas today. I wrote a post last year: To do or not to do: celebrate Sinterklaas abroad.

Anyway what I wanted to share and celebrate is that I have been nominated by Expats for a Top Blog of the Year Award! This is really good news. I have been blogging now for about one and a half years and I must say I am really enjoying this adventure. If you want to know why I started blogging you can read an interview over on the Amsterdam Mamas website. I am excited about the connections that have been made through this blog, the comments you have left, the emails I have received and for the people that daily visit this blog. A big thank you to you all!

For this award it is important that I have reviews from the readers. The more reviews the better. I would really appreciate some feedback. Please go over to the Expats Blog and add your review there. The reviews have to be in before the 9th of December 2012, so that is just about in 4 days time.

One of the reasons that I started blogging was that I wanted more people to know about third culture kids.

Thanks to Olga @The European Mama I know that this goal is being reached.

"I have only heard about Third Culture Kids because of Janneke's blog and found it a fascinating topic! Janneke tackles both the bright and the dark side of being an expat and I love her thoughtful, fascinating posts!"

If you prefer to leave your feedback here then that's fine too. I  also have a very short questionnaire in the margin on the left side of the blog and you can let me know what kind of topics you would like to hear more about. I am looking forward to more good things happening in this festive month.  Thanks to everyone who left a comment about my blog on the Expat, I enjoyed reading your comments. Very encouraging.

The results of the contest are out. You can see the winners on the Expat Blog. For the Netherlands these are the winners. Congratulations!
  1. Gold for Adventures in Integration A personal blog written by an Australian import bride living in the Netherlands since May 2008 with her husband. 
  2. Silver for Invading Holland The story of an accident prone English man.
  3. Bronze for A Flamingo in Utrecht by an American, living with an Italian, in a 2000-year-old city in the Netherlands. She loves exploring, with camera and dog in tow, as she learns and shares the history, art and contemporary culture of Utrecht.
There's honours for these 3 blogs:
  1. Dutch pancake An American living in Holland and playing in Europe
  2. The European Mama A blog by a Polish mother living in the Netherlands with her German husband and two daughters about parenting, multilingualism, being European, and much much more.
  3. The Wooden Shoe Dairies A Canadian expat in the Netherlands blogs about the zanier sides of life in Holland.
For those of you interested in raising kids in other cultures then The European Mama blog is the most interesting I would say.

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