The term TCK, created by American sociologist Ruth Hill Useem, refers to a child who has spent a substantial part of their formative years outside their parents’ culture. Those who fit that bill have an inclination to mix and merge their birth culture with their adopted culture, creating one of their own: a third culture. For TCKs, constant goodbyes are sadly inevitable, whilst hellos to start a new life are enticing. Now, say hello to these three amazing children, and see what they have to say about identifications and culture recognitions.
Countries lived in: Canada, Afghanistan and China
It was very hard to move to a new country and school in China because I was so nervous to meet new people. On the other hand, I was also so eager to move to China.
It was very hard to leave my home country. But after a few days, I had already made tons of friends in school and in my neighborhood. It was not hard to live in China and, in fact, it was a lot of fun! I also make new Chinese friends and talked with them. My parents helped me adjust in the neighbourhood and had put me in a great school. It has been a joy living in China all because of my parents.
I learned basic Chinese in preschool, but it got more advanced when I got to elementary school. It was a great help to learn Chinese so I could communicate in Chinese with my Chinese friends.
Countries lived in: USA, China and Japan
I have lived in America for 2 years, Japan for 7 years, and China for 6 years and counting. I have lived overseas for more than half of my lifetime.
By developing this international perspective, I think it is beneficial and disadvantageous to be a Third Culture Kid. It is beneficial because I have a more international way of thinking, and can express myself better than average Japanese students since the Japanese education systems do not encourage students to become open and express feelings. However, it is disadvantageous because I have less Japanese speaking and writing abilities, and Japanese students are more skillful in math, science etc.
Overall, I think TCK experience is positive depending on your situation. If you are planning to return to your native country and settle down, TCK experience would likely have a negative effect on you. However, if you are planning to travel around the world or settle in a foreign country, being a TCK would probably have a positive effect.
Countries lived in: Indonesia, USA, Vietnam, Taiwan and China
Third culture kids can be defined as, “a person who has spent a significant part of his/her developmental years in a culture other than their parents’.” Comparing myself to my grandparents, their life was pretty much unchanged and about as cultured as a piece of toast. I think the experience I earned from living in so many different countries has helped massively in my preparation for university, especially in the Personal Statement part.
I feel that a third culture wouldn’t be for everyone, but would recommend it nonetheless, as I feel that it’s a great experience that provides you with the ability to see yourself and others in a broader perspective, and not through a keyhole. Then again, it could be very difficult for others to adapt to a different lifestyle very different from the comfortable one that they know. I am planning on studying Sports and Exercise Therapy and being exposed to so many different cultures, I feel this will help me in my career in many different ways.
I also feel that if I had stayed in the UK, the friends that I could have made would be a part of my life for practically all of it, without having to chop and change and start all over again. In the expat environment, it is difficult to maintain a friendship for life.