Moving was a constant factor in her life. There was always only a short time to make friends before she would loose them again because they would move on. She really wonders how people can live in one place all their lives, is it not boring? Victoria is looking for an international job because that's what she is comfortable with, that is what she knows. She says the best way to discover a culture is to eat the food. She ends by saying that she has to go and do something, learn a language or make a move.
Just like Victoria, I found it hard to answer the question: where are you from? I remember being embarrassed because there were things here in the Netherlands that I did not know about. To this day I am still not very good in Dutch geography, knowing where place are. I can tell you lots about places in Zimbabwe, would that do? I recently discovered that there is an online mentoring program for expat youths called Sea Change Mentoring. They aim to prepare young people returning to their "home country" to minimize reverse culture shock and to maximize the benefits of having lived abroad. That sounds really good, I wish there had been something like this when I moved from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to university in the Netherlands. That was a real shock, I wrote about it earlier: The most difficult transition for third culture kids.
What was your experience like? Did you have embarrassing moments? Did you have a reverse culture shock? Do you have advice for kids returning to their "home" country? Do you know where you're from?
I've always had this when people ask where my parents are from... it's so complex and takes such a lengthy explanation, I worry people will go to sleep before I'm done! On my mum's side my grandad was a Jewish Tunisian immigrant who grew up in Egypt, my grandma was English, on my dad's side my grandma was an Italian American who we always thought of as Chinese because she lived there for 7 years and her home was full of Chinese things! and grandpa was an Irish American, originally from Lithuania... So I although I grew up in the UK, I don't especially feel like I'm 'from' one particular country!ReplyDelete
I see it happening with my son already and he's only 11. Having lived nearly half his life in the UK, then the most recent half in the US, and now Italy...he still staunchly identifies himself as English, yet if he could choose where he would want to live, it would be the US. I'm just hoping in the long run he will feel close ties enough to both places to feel a sense of belonging. There are so many wonderful benefits to traveling while young, but there are challenges too. The hope is the former outweigh the latter! Thanks for the insightful essay.ReplyDelete
I appreciate the candor in Victoria's video, it definitely showcases some of the downside of expat living. One challenge to deal with is NOT assuming that everyone else is dumb, even if they ask questions that would seem so. No doubt she has encountered some strange, ignorant and offensive questions, but her response of swearing and punching someone belies unresolved hostility. She bemoans being teased for not knowing certain things (e.g., the pledge of Allegiance and US presidents), yet doesn't show any compassion for when others don't readily know something. As Pollock and Van Reken wrote, and Tina Quick reminds us repeatedly, TCKs (especially if/when they 'repatriate') must be careful not to come across as arrogant (either perceived or actual). She clearly has moments of striving to be a positive representative of TCKs and expat life, and likely will grow into this more as time passes and she finds her way.ReplyDelete
Coming "home" can be really challenging and can expose to downside to expat life. Of course there are so many positive things about being an expat, too. Sea Change Mentoring works to help teens utilize the positives and minimize the negatives. It really helps to read posts like these and hear from others who have been through it!ReplyDelete
@Tallulah Oh thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment again. You are a really lovely mix of cultures. I always say genetically the mix makes really "strong" people. It reminds me that each of us is so unique. To which country do you feel most bonded? So even without moving around you don't feel like you are from one particular country, that's very interesting.ReplyDelete
Hello Holly, yes I too hope the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for your son. It helps to have a mum who writes about the adventures, who reads about what it is like for her son, who thinks about it and probably who talks to him about it too. I had never heard about third culture kids and their challenges even though I was one myself! So it was a real challenge.ReplyDelete
Thank you Linda for analyzing the video so carefully. I did want to include it because it does clearly show the struggle Victoria had not only on re-entry of the USA, but even when moving to a new place. It's true that non-TCKs sometimes find third culture kids arrogant. That's something we have to be careful of. I remember feeling much older and wiser than my peers, I had seen "the world", I had seen rich and poor people, healthy and sick, I had seen other continents but in other aspects of my life I still had lots to learn! So it is good to be a little humble. I added a link (in the related posts) to a recent article by Ruth van Reken about relating to non-TCKs.ReplyDelete
Ellen, coming "Home"was my greatest challenge, but for some of us (like me), it is not really "home" because I had never really lived in the Netherlands. I hope you can help lots of teens and ease the pain, or at least prepare them for the challenges.ReplyDelete
Thank you for sharing this video. When you ask my family of where I 'belong', (Dutch passport) they will tell everyone that I have not found my home country... Now after 34 moves and probably around 14 countries - I have started wondering which group I belong to, yes I am an expatriate, but I do believe I am also a real TCK - yet I travelled/lived/work on my own during my childhood. I miss the people who are like me (arrogant to say :), I see so much similarities between Victoria and myself) I totally agree with regard to the boring bit - on the go and meeting new people is part of a normal life for me...ReplyDelete
Thank you Nicole for your comment. I like meeting or hearing others who have a similar story because it helps me to know that I am not the only one with those feelings. Even though I feel a little strange and different from the people around me, there are others who feel the same. You know what I find funny is that I now live here in the Netherlands (my passport country), I have not been an expat in my adult life but I feel very at home in the expat community. I love hearing people speak different languages around me, that feels like HOME to me. I have a question for you. You say that just like Victoria you like to be on the go and meet new people, is that due to restlessness or not? What do you think?ReplyDelete
Thanks for the kind remarks - yes there is total restlessness, not so much of searching for a new country or a new lifestyle. My surroundings describe it as 'itchy feet'... I get easily bored, as with many other TCK's or expats that have travelled constantly. Yet, expatriates nowadays are a little different- e.g. in the Middle East expatriates are here mainly for economic reasons - whilst I actually chose to live in the places were I work, different athmosphere and values :)ReplyDelete
That I have been able to stay in Kuwait for over 1 year - longest in 8 years - is a real surprise. Although already looking forward to a new adventure whilst reading DrieCulteren blog posts :)
Thank you so much for featuring this on your blog! Again, I apologize for the amount of swearing I do in this video haha, I rarely prepare but simply speak my mind.ReplyDelete
Linda, I would like to address some of your thoughts on my video -- because you are absolutely correct! There will always be people who might not understand certain things, and I most certainly am one of those people in different situations. I wish I could defend myself for saying when I got into a fight with that one girl I mentioned, I was in middle school when that happened, but there should be no excuse for the actions I took! Fortunately, I am now 22, older (but still young!) I am still finding my way as you mention, my attitude to those who might seem arrogant have been much more tolerant, as I still strive to do -- I haven't punched anyone else, I promise :)
Again, thank you for featuring my video on this blog, I hope it can reach a lot of people to understand TCK's. Your blog is wonderful!
No need to apologize Victoria, I'm so glad you made this video! I really appreciated the video for many reasons - your honesty and approachability among others - and think your making them is so helpful in reaching out to other TCKs, ATCKs, expats, repats, global nomads, serial wanderers, etc.ReplyDelete
My son hass repatriated for university and while he certainly didn't live abroad as extensively as you have, he still has grappled with feeling 'apart' and 'different', not necessarily being able to relate to or interested in the conversations and interests of some of his peers. Going from the many diverse perspectives and opinions of the international community in which he lived back to a more 'domestic' community has been challenging for him. Sometimes his impatience and discomfort can come across as arrogance, so his having read Tina Quick's Global Nomad's Guide to University Transitions before he went has helped give him a framework of understanding. It takes time but he's assembled a group of friends a bit more like him (as most of us would!), several of whom are 'internationals' in background. I see it in myself as well. My various close friends 'back home' are smart, savvy, intelligent, compassionate, well-rounded people: we connect on deep levels, yet I also seek out fellow expats/internationals to satisfy the need for understanding and connection on that level.
And as you, DrieCulturen and some of the other commenters noted, once we've lived among different cultures and experienced what we have as we travel the world, most of us can't help but feel the constant need to continue doing so. Seeing what's next, moving on. It certainly is in our case, too. We may eventually establish a base 'back home' but can't see ourselves living there permanently. Too much else to see, do, live, experience!
Nicole, I still have the restlessness too even though I have been living in the same place for quite a few years now. It´s quite a challenge. By the way I said that I felt at home in the expat community but I felt very much at home working in the asylum seekers centre here too. So it is the multicultural, multilingual society that I feel at home in. What a privilege to have you commenting all the way from Kuwait! I´m wondering what your next adventure will be...ReplyDelete
This is such a great post, and one that I'm sure all TCKs can relate to. The question "where are you from" is possibly the most complicated one to answer for a TCK. I'm currently living back in the U.S. which is my passport country, but it is in no way home for me. I lived here when I was a little girl, but living here now is just another stop, it's not 'coming home'. When we talk amongst TCKs, explaining where we've been and how many times we've moved makes sense, and we all understand each other. When you're suddenly confronted with the question 'where are you from' from non-TCKs it becomes much harder to explain, because it doesn't make sense to them. And it's very easy to come off as arrogant or superior as you talk about the places you've lived, even if that is in no way the intent. It's natural for us to talk about them because that's where we lived our lives...but to non-TCKs this can often come across as bragging or showing off. I recently wrote a post about that; I'll link to it here if it can be of any interest! http://tcknextstop.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/the-other-perspective/ReplyDelete
Thanks for this great post, and I look forward to reading more! It's always wonderful to read writings from other TCKs/ATCKs! :)