Well many of my peers and I are at that weird stage whether to consider ourselves full fleshed adults or not, since we are “legal” but not legal for everything yet. Anyway, you all must be wondering where the third parent has come from, to be considered “third cultured.” This term has more to do with the exposure of various cultures and can be defined as “a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture.” I, for one, consider myself as a third culture kid (/adult), because I have lived in quite a few places.
I am ethnically Indian; I was born in Ohio, lived in Pattaya, Thailand for a year as a baby, and then moved back to Ohio. Then when I was 9, I moved to Pune, India; lived there for 7 years. Afterwards I moved to another city in India, called Hyderabad for another two years. Currently I am studying in Philadelphia at Temple University, with a huge aspiration to have more opportunities to live in other countries. If you think this is baffling, I have friends who have lived in more places than I have. That being said, here are 12 confessions of a third culture kid.
Us third culture kids have never ending and complicated stories about where we have lived. People are usually mind boggled and confused with our continuous moves.
It takes us a few seconds to come up with the answer to the question of “Where are you from?” That is because we are often confused whether to say the country/city we were born at, the place where we stayed the maximum years in, or the last place we were in. I’m telling you, the struggle is real for us.
We often ask ourselves “Where and what is home?” It could be that no place was home, all the places were home, or the place where we felt most comfortable at is home. It varies from person to person.
Third culture kids have either attended international schools, British schools, or American schools abroad, which serve for the compatibility and stability of children who travel often due to families being a part of Multi National Corporations (called expatriates), Military, or some sort of International Bureaucracy.
Because we have been students at these special schools, we tend to have friends from different parts of the world. Through this, we have had the opportunity to learn about different cultures first handedly, we tend to be more open minded, and we also have a better perspective on events or issues. These schools implement ways and means to teach us to be globally aware.
There are times where we feel disconnected from the countries we were born in; I, myself can relate to that. That’s because we have lived in quite a few countries, that we forget certain lifestyles or manners of our birth country. It is not like we have a culture shock, we definitely know the general knowledge and politics, but it is just smaller aspects. Like, I may be an American Citizen, but I spell the British way and still look at the temperature in Celsius. You know, just colonial things.
Ah, languages. Now is that not a beautiful facet? I guarantee you, a third culture kid is at minimum a bilingual. That means that the person can speak at least two languages. I can communicate in four and I have many friends who are similar in situation. This is due to having to know our native language, learning English and another second language from school, picking up on the local language, and a few phrases here and there from our worldly friends (*cough cough* curses). We have a great knack of switching languages and mixing them together. We also speak with a few different accents.
What is the point of being a third culture kid when travel is not ingrained in you and boiling in your blood? We have lived and visited many countries. Airports are no strangers to us. We have gotten used to traveling in planes for long durations. Though it may sound a little torturous, we always crave to travel and be in different countries. Also, let’s not talk about our passports.
Even if many of us may not have participated in one, all of us know what Model United Nations is.
Either on our phones, laptops, tablets, or brains we have different time zones to keep up with. This is in order to stay in contact with the family and friends in other parts of world, so we have to know when is the best time to call or chat. Digitalized life is a key component.
Can we have a shout out to all those knick-knacks, memoirs, and souvenirs from all the countries that we have lived and visited on our curio cabinets, shelves, and fridges!!!
There may be a chance right now where many of us are already planning that our future children should also be third culture kids as well, because it is one of the best learning opportunities a person can get. Instead of reading from books and the Internet, living in a different country and meeting people of various nationalities is an amazing way to gain knowledge. Also, to pick up languages is a talent; we would want our future children to be as globalized as possible. Being a third culture kid/adult is a way of life.
Feature image source: infinitesatori.org and gracefilledworld.com
Sahiti Bonam is a student at Tyler School of art in Temple University. She's lived in many places through out her life and is big on global exposure and cultural awareness, as she's been in international schools doing IB. Apart from art, she loves to read, blog, watch shows and movies, and spending time with her family and friends.