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Understanding the Third Culture Kid

Third culture kids have led, and continue to, lead some of the most interesting lives. Some of them become aware of the term Third Culture Kid (TCK) in their adult lives, while some become familiar with it right in their childhood. It depends on your environment. As a TCK, you most likely traveled a lot across different continents, witnessed different cultures, studied in different school systems, and lead what would not be described as a normal childhood by many.

We have to appreciate the fact that such an environment, while thrilling, may seem confusing for TCKs. Being an interracial child living in a different time than that of your parents can also make it harder for them to understand you and your specific struggles. Your view of the world, as well as all that you will experience, will shape your personality and perspective. Imagine the kind of perspective a TCK ends up with from all they go through. You have to live that life, I suppose, for you to fully appreciate what it is like being a TCK.

An example is the rules that apply when you are at home and at school, and how their differences affect you. An interracial couple will have a mix of rules and customs that apply in their house and on their kids, different from what they themselves lived under. Since the family is in a different country from where the kids were born, there will be the rules and regulations at their school which the kids must follow. Those are another set of totally different regulations from anything the parents have ever gone through. The kids, therefore, have to deal with them on their own. Culture shock is an understatement.

The TCKs will also form friendships a little bit different than how other kids do. The need to belong, or to stand out, depending on how they perceive things, will lead them to make certain choices in friendships. At the very least, they find it easier to be friends with those who speak similar languages. The younger they are, the easier it is for them to make friends. It is a universal language, after all. Kids in puberty and adolescence are usually harder to approach or form friends with.

The cultures one is exposed to the most tend to form their base. As you grow, you will notice you have a preference for certain foods, music, weather conditions, fun activities, mannerisms, and such. Moving to a different place will take some getting used to.

Career choices are diverse and many for TCKs. Their exposure to the international experience, many cultures, and most likely fluency in several languages makes them hot prospects in some amazing job positions. At the same time, there is that internal struggle to find the job that feels right and utilizes their many talents.

But it is not all confusing and strange all the time. Living as a TCK has more fun and memorable occasions than bad ones. You get to experience life in ways most people will never have a chance to. You get to go to places others plan a lifetime to manage. You get to live in cultures that most tourists barely scratch the surface of. Your life story will be rich, full, and interesting. As you get older, you learn to deal with most prejudices, stereotypes, and segregation, if any. Life as a TCK is pretty awesome.

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