As a TCK, whether you like it or not, you end up becoming an ambassador of the places you’ve lived in, the cultures you were a part of. I’ve always believed that one shouldn’t shy away from these frank conversations as it is entirely possible that you could change someone’s perception, probably for the better.
I had told myself I wouldn’t have culture shock in America because I’d spent a lot of time here before. I was ready for air-conditioning and smooth highways, and I couldn’t complain about those. What I hadn’t realized was that I had secretly, unknowingly formed prejudices against people based on a first impression. This had made me quiet and melancholic.
TCKs are the silent majority who do not get a choice to relocate to foreign lands when their parents decide to move abroad. In addition, when a family moves abroad or a company relocates an executive overseas, most of the attention is focused on logistics or how to get the executive to settle in. As far as people are concerned, children are resilient and they would simply adapt.
Rahul Gandotra’s “The Road Home” was the first film I’d seen that I recognized my Third Culture Kid self in. In watching the film, I was reminded that so much of what defines a Third Culture Kid is impossible to articulate – sometimes it feels like there just aren’t words to describe how it feels to be perpetually stuck in the in-between.
The concept of United Noshes is the epitome of being a TCK. It’s where Jesse Friedman and Laura Hadden, an adventurous husband-and-wife team, host dinners from their home in Brooklyn, New York that explore cuisines from around the world. More specifically, the cuisines from the member states of the United Nations. Genius.
I couldn’t make a decision about what city to move to. When I asked my mom, she simply said, “Stop moving and stay where you are.”
In early 2012, I decided I wanted to take a year-long break from life – a gap year. I had finally gotten my parents on board, my friends had already given me their blessings. All that was left to do was make the actual move, and I no longer had anything holding me back.
As I sat down to attempt to write about this complex subject of TCK relationships, I turned on my Disney Pandora station to set the mood. To many, that might seem odd – Disney, if anything, would typically evoke childhood memories of sitting in front of an old TV on Saturday mornings with siblings. However, when Shang belts out his determination to make a man out of Mulan, my mind travels to watching the Disney classic with TCK friends who grew up in Asia, listening to them talk about the cultural accuracy of the movie. And when Simba is presented to the circle of life, I think of last summer, snuggled between TCK friends on an African safari. These movies – and their soundtracks – are now explicitly connected with TCKs for me. I have watched Disney movies with non-TCKs too, but my experiences with TCKs are markedly different. What is it about TCKs that bonds us together? And what does that teach us about bonding with non-TCKs? Bonding with TCKs First, we’re willing to …
We left Yonezawa before 6 a.m., in January. My too-big-for-Japan family clambered into a van with half our belongings crammed into suitcases around us. We were moving back to the States, and my heart was breaking.
Italians have a theory that experiencing hot and cold air in quick succession results in illness. I have a theory that going back and forth between two cultures in quick succession results in one crazy, confused TCK.