As soon as I heard the moniker “third culture kid” (TCK), I knew it was me. Then I began to understand that it was also those who I grew up with. When I was three (3) my family moved to the Middle East. Although I look just like some of the locals do, I am not from the country we settled in. As an adult, when I finally made my way back to live in the United States, I was not traditionally American, either. What did being American even mean? Taxes were the first big shocker, snow for the first time, and the fact that chipmunks are real!? What I did know is that TCKs are capable of anything they put their minds to.
That of which I described is a classic third culture kid scenario. So many of us experience culture shock when we return. Perhaps it is to attend university or get a job, weave back into the system, or build a life locally. Culture shock is a real thing. To experience it in your own country is another. For that reason, I know a few TCKs who opted to stay overseas. It took me over four (4) years and a compelling argument in favor of committing, to come “home”. Therefore, I fully understand all those who decide to remain globally local.
I happen to be American (from the United States – US). What is so interesting here is that it is vast. Every single city has its unique vibe. It is almost like each state is its own country. I think that you can say that about a lot of countries, for instance, the north of Thailand, let’s say, Chiang Mai, in the mountains, is different from Bangkok’s hustle down south. However, in the US, the ground covered makes for endless variations of “America”.
It is a unique struggle of being caught between worlds. TCKs learn to thrive within communities using the same tactics that we use everywhere we live.
Thus far, I have lived in four (4) countries and traveled to so many more. I plan to continue that trend.
Lastly, there are usually two types of TCKs. Those who forget their past and try to blend into their new role. Then, those who embrace their global citizenship. They bring their past lives with them and offer to their new surroundings their full value. When it is time to move on, they copy-paste. These TCKs are walking, talking collections of their experiences. You could relate this experience to the life of a military brat, the first cousin of the TCKs. If I had to assign attributes to our group, I would say that we are adaptable, connected, well educated, uniquely experienced, and self-motivated to learn and grow. We are also typically inclined to use our craft to make the world a better place. Can you imagine the brain trust that could materialize from a group of us? Below you find a link to a list of some greats.
Some of the most famous third culture kids are Barak Obama, Yoko Ono, and John Carey.
- Third Culture Kid Life: By James R. Mitchener – Does our species have what it takes to endure?
- From Somewhere & Everywhere: By Joy Ballard – The Third Culture Kid Experience
- Third Culture Kid: By Jedidiah San Juan Silud – Turning your story into a startup
Also, I plan to dive into I’m from… Earth? in 2021. How understanding Third Culture Kids can connect a divided world – By Carrisa Gobble. Check it out, and let’s discuss.