Thought Catalog
August 26, 2014

24 Struggles All Third Culture Kids Understand

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Flickr / John LeGear
Flickr / John LeGear

Third Culture Kid (def.) – “A term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their developmental years.” (Wikipedia) It usually refers to people who grew up in multiple countries.

1. The question, “Where are you from?” is the most annoying, nerve-racking, anxiety-inducing question someone can ask you.

2. Filling out official documents that ask for things like your “permanent address” or “hometown” gives you hives.

3. The idea of losing an official document is your personal version of hell on earth because you might need to go through several countries’ bureaucratic ordeals.

4. “Home” doesn’t mean what other people think it means.

5. You either live in a constant state of culture shock or are simply immune to almost all of it.

6. You know the greetings in too many languages to count, but cannot read or spell in most of them if your life depended on it.

7. Accent switching makes people think you’re faking at least a few of those. In reality, it depends on the last person you just got off the phone with because truth be told, you have about three different accents for each language.

8. Getting caught code-switching from one language to another in order to make your point. And then realizing the person you’re talking to only understood 75% of what you said.

9. The awkward moment when you swear in a language you thought nobody around your vicinity spoke. But there’s always one, and he or she shall give you a disapproving look.

10. Forever converting the prices of things in your head and either crying tears of joy or sadness, depending on what you’re buying.

11. Only being able to explain certain emotions and experiences in certain languages or cultural contexts.

12. Not being able to travel for a certain period of time drives you insane.

13. Not wanting to talk about your childhood because everyone thinks you’re showing off. But then getting asked tons of questions about your childhood. Yep, can’t win that one.

14. Your Facebook Newsfeed is basically a global conference that you can’t keep up with.

15. Not being able to “pick a country that was your favorite” because you know each one was special to you in its own way.

16. Being on your third passport in your twenties and/or having a passport that looks like it’s from a war zone. Now having a driver’s license on the other hand…

17. You still get nervous crossing the road sometimes. (If you get this one, you’re definitely the real third culture kid deal. Hint: Which side of the road is the “right” side of the road?)

18. You have friends that you physically haven’t seen in YEARS but you still consider them some of your closest  friends.

19. Not knowing where on earth you would like to raise a family and wrestling with the pros and cons of whether you’d give your future children the multiple-country experience.

20. Laughing at culturally-specific jokes ALL BY YOURSELF.

21. Trying to retain all the cultural perspectives you grew up with but realizing that is a losing game because culture is dynamic, and some things have moved on without you.

22. People finding something you eat from another country “really gross” even though they’ve never tried it! But whatever, haters gonna hate.

23. The airport run is one of your favorite races and every time you see someone do it, you want to cheer them on and say, “COME ON BUDDY, YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT!”

24. The feeling that you fit in everywhere and nowhere at the same time. TC mark