Third Culture Kid

The third culture kid is a term that was first coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem to describe children who immigrate to another country with parents from a different culture. Since the children spend the majority of their developmental years outside of the culture their parents grew up in, they assimilate both their parent’s culture and the culture they are growing up in forming a “third culture” of their own.

This balancing act can seem nearly impossible if the cultures you are trying to blend seem to oppose each other. As a Zimbabwean born young person living in the UK I have tried to juggle the two cultures with profound difficulty. The parenting style in the UK is a lot more relaxed than that of an African household. I always felt growing up that my friends were able to get away with so much more than I could ever imagine. One such incident happened when I was in the first year of my GCSE’s and I had failed to complete my homework because the book I had was missing the page I needed. I was given an afterschool detention (I was the last of my friends to receive one) and proceeded to have a panic attack about breaking the news to my parents. I must have seemed incredibly dramatic to my friends but it really was the worst thing I could do in my household and although I was too old for a lashing I wasn’t too old for a good tongue lashing and after all isn’t that really the worst punishment parent’s can hand out?

It is a juggling act that can only work if the parents and children find a common ground. Parents have to be understanding of the society in which they are raising their children and provide a little leeway while children must respect their parent’s culture and rules.

I also found that it is of great importance to find friends that understand of your parent’s culture whether they are TCK’s as well or just mature enough not undermine or judge your parent’s rules. Because this can be the most difficult part to juggle for a TCK, being able to hang out and do the things your friends are doing while still respecting your parents culture. This can include the way you dress, boyfriends and school.

The positives to being  a TCK is the ability to understand other cultures with ease meaning that moving to another country isn’t something that would scare me personally. In fact I embrace it with great excitement. However as a TCK the feeling of belonging to a certain society and its culture doesn’t come easy. Even though I have spent the majority of my life in the UK I find I don’t quite fit in having adopted my parent’s culture as well. Although the idea of ever moving back to my passport country is a daunting one. I would definitely find it very difficult to adjust to the culture and some of the restraints it would have on me. So maybe the scourge of the third culture kid is to never really feel as if they belong to any one culture but to instead float between cultures with effortless comfort. Which I suppose isn’t too bad after all.

Editor’s Note: Unbeknowest to us BuzzFeed did a post on being a Third Culture Kid and of course we relate (My accent changes SWIFTLY..have surprised many a people!) and all TCKs will do too: Check it out below

According to sociologist David C. Pollock:

According to sociologist David C. Pollock:

Luchunyu / Via shutterstock.com

But, of course, you knew that already.

But, of course, you knew that already.

Ssuaphotos / Via shutterstock.com

1. You can curse convincingly in at least five different languages.

You can curse convincingly in at least five different languages.

GraphJam / Via cheezburger.com

2. To everyone’s confusion, your accent changes depending on who you’re talking to.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

3. And you often slip foreign slang into your English by mistake, which makes you unintelligible to most people.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

4. You’re really good at calculating time differences, because you have to do it every time you call your parents.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

5. But you also have your computer programmed to help you out when your math fails.

But you also have your computer programmed to help you out when your math fails.

Rega Jha

6. You start getting birthday wishes several hours before your birthday, from your friends farther east than you.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

7. Your passport looks like it’s been through hell and back.

Your passport looks like it's been through hell and back.

Charles Taylor / Via shutterstock.com

Or, more likely, your passports*, in the plural.

8. You have a love-hate relationship with the question “Where are you from?”

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage

Make RubbableYou have both a short and long answer ready, and you pick one depending on who’s asking.

9. You run into your elementary school friends in unlikely countries at unlikely times.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

10. You’ve spent an absurd and probably unhealthy amount of time on airplanes.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Paramount Pictures

Make Rubbable

11. And you definitely know your way around jet-lag recovery.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

12. Your list of significant others’ nationalities reads like a soccer World Cup bracket.

Your list of significant others' nationalities reads like a soccer World Cup bracket.

Handy, huh?

13. And your circle of best friends is as politically, racially, and religiously diverse as the United Nations.

And your circle of best friends is as politically, racially, and religiously diverse as the United Nations.

14. Which is great, except that you “hang out” more online than in real life.

Which is great, except that you "hang out" more online than in real life.

XKCD / Via xkcd.com

15. So when you do see your best friends, you lose it a little.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

16. You’ve had the most rigorous sensitivity training of all: real life.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make RubbableAlways take your shoes off in a Thai household, but never show the soles of your feet to an Arab.

17. You get nervous whenever a form needs you to enter a “permanent address.”

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

18. You know that McDonald’s tastes drastically different from country to country.

You know that McDonald's tastes drastically different from country to country.

And you can rank them from best to worst.

19. You’re a food snob because you’ve sampled the best and most authentic of every possible cuisine.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

20. You convert any price to two different currencies before making significant purchases.

You convert any price to two different currencies before making significant purchases.

CVM / Via shutterstock.com

21. You don’t call it “home.” You call it “passport country.”

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

22. You often find yourself singing along to songs in languages you don’t speak or understand.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

23. You miss BBM, but Viber and WhatsApp will do for now.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

24. You’re the token exotic friend in your non-TCK crew.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

25. Love it or hate it, you have a strong and well-informed opinion on the I.B. system.

Love it or hate it, you have a strong and well-informed opinion on the I.B. system.

26. The end of the school year was always bittersweet because so many people moved away.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

27. And, no matter how many you say, good-byes never get easier.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

28. But the constant flow of new friends more than made up for it.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

29. Now you feel incredibly lucky to have loved ones and memories scattered all over the globe.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

30. You know better than anyone else that “home” isn’t a place, it’s the people in it.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

31. And you can’t wait to see where your life adventure takes you next.

31 Signs You're A Third Culture Kid

Make Rubbable

Share On Facebook
Tweet
Email

More ▾


14 thoughts on “Third Culture Kid

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s