When I’m in Hong Kong, I feel like a Filipino and an American. When I’m in the U.S., I feel Filipino and Chinese. And when I’m in the Philippines, I feel like an American. My self-perception constantly shifts, even if I remain ethnically Filipino regardless of where I am.
The incident made me realize that my ability to live the life I want is entirely contingent on the whims of the American government. But perversely, this has only intensified my desire to stay in New York.
I was not a popular person at my first Super Bowl party. My boyfriend at the time brought me to his friends’ house over my rather loud objections. He promised I’d enjoy myself, that we’d eat chili and drink beer, and that even if the game was boring, there would be funny commercials. The group split in what I know now is a fairly traditional way – most of the guys in the living room, watching the game, and most of the girls were in the kitchen chatting and eating the snacks they’d prepared. Not knowing what to do, I stayed near my boyfriend. Being a Third Culture Kid, I know it can take years before the rituals and minutiae of social events normalize. Having grown up in Thailand, I remember being mystified the first time Songkran came around just as much as I remember gleefully joining in on the water fight by the time our third year rolled around. Festivals and traditions, like humour, seem to be some of the hardest things to translate. …
In the last two years of teaching, I’ve often found myself wondering what could I possibly offer in the realm of education, to a classroom, to one student. How do I speak to each unique experience when I am only one person living one life?
When I was finally 18 and at home from my first semester of college I told my parents I wanted to try alcohol. It wasn’t planned, it just came out – it was time. All my friends were fairly deep into their drinking careers having started much earlier, 14 to 16 being about the norm for most Third Culture Kids.
My sisters and I marched through one airport gate after another, soldiers of separation, casualties of a difficult divorce.
I’ve landed, but where am I? In German, to arrive, “ankommen,” is understood to be a longer process, one that could take days or weeks.