The first thing you learn as a TCK who lives a nomadic lifestyle is that everyone has different styles of keeping in touch. Some are great at it, others you know better than to expect to hear from them. We went through our own friend list to cull this list of “Third Culture Kid Styles of Keeping in Touch.” Of the methods described below, we’re sure you know of at least one person who fits the stereotype. Which one are you? Or, are there others we forgot to list? Let us know in the comments.
Experts at navigating time zones, these Type-A TCKs are great at nagging you until you both set an official date and time for a Google hangout or Skype date. Organization and efficiency is their forte and you won’t be surprised to find a Google Calendar invite for your virtual meeting. Don’t expect them to stay for long though, these are busy souls with lots planned in one day, so get as much packed into that hour long scheduled session as possible.
These are friends who only remember you exist when they are visiting your city. They are likely to send a long message talking about how they are visiting and they are so excited and might slip in that they need a place to crash. You bond the few days they are in town and then they vanish into the abyss that is the abroad. Out of sight, out of mind.
The Self Paparazzi
These communicators are often the definition of TMI. They send constant updates from wherever they are, definitely on Instagram and probably via Whatsapp or Snapchat, too. Their updates can come in the form of quotes, a funny or not so funny story, or a picture of their latest locally-sourced, beautifully plated meal. Depending on how you know this person, you might find this endearing and love the idea of sharing each moment with them, or you might find it extremely annoying, because no, I don’t really need another picture of your dog sleeping on your couch.
The Old School
An endangered species that still keeps in touch via good old snail mail and beautiful postcards. They love investing in beautiful and exquisite stationery for their special correspondence. Sometimes little gifts will come bundled in the package, and the address is always carefully handwritten. They will send you a letter and then will email you to tell you that it’s on the way.
The Good Intentioner
These communicators remember you when they read about your country (or countries) in the news, meet someone else from your country, or eat food from your country. You will most probably receive an email or FB message with a link to an article that they read. The message will often end with a ‘I miss you,’ but following up is not their forte. An unfortunate sub-breed includes those whose geography is not the strongest. They send you articles about Egypt when you are from Iran, because you know – they’re all the same.
The middle or high school friend you added back when MySpace was cool. Or, the person you added freshman year of college in the zest of friend-making that only freshmen have. The funny thing is, you just haven’t gotten around to deleting them yet. Nowadays, this long-forgotten friend pokes you on Facebook, comments on something you posted (usually political) or randomly goes on a liking rampage on your profile pictures. Basically, they interact with you via social media, but you haven’t actually talked in six years.
The Time Traveler
Time travelers were probably your ‘best friend’ at some point in time. No matter how many months or years have gone by, it seems like you can pick up from wherever you left off last time. You are eight again, playing tag or playground games. Or you are sixteen again, recalling your first crushes. You don’t need to find things to do together, as recounting memories is the most entertaining thing you can do, and which you can do for hours.
They are not the best at keeping in touch, but if you call them or message them, they burst open with stories and anecdotes. They need a little nudge to remind them that you too want to hear what they’ve been up to. Once in a blue moon, you might be fortunate enough to hear from them first. Take a moment to bask in the honour of being one of the few lucky people.
The ‘What’s Up’
Most likely to communicate by phone or a chat messenger, these connectors start every conversation with “What’s up?” Conversations with them are never really about anything important but you somehow are able to spend hours talking to them, usually at work. When you try to think back to what you talked about, nothing comes to mind. After every wave of stories they are most likely to say “Sooo, What Else?” Once they realize that they have exhausted the amount of silly stories and anecdotes they can get from you and they are done telling you theirs, they will hang up and move onto the next person.
Great at remembering details and conveying them with patience, this style of TCK communicator prefers writing long emails which can most probably be published (in a blog, at the very least). When you receive one, you know you’ll have to put aside time in the calendar to take it all in, and when you write back there’s pressure to make sure your email is just as long and just as intense (a thesaurus comes in handy). This friend may take a while to respond amongst all the other long emails they receive. By the time they get to yours it might take a month or two, but the reply is usually worth it.
Illustrations for Denizen by Natali Voorthuis.