Travel & Hotspots

8 signs you’re a third culture kid


When someone comes up to me and talks to me about how they know what it’s like to live abroad and I find out it was only for a couple of months and (most likely) for an internship, then I’m sorry, agree to disagree, but you really don’t know too much about the expat life. You experienced a city, yes, but to say that those couple of months really taught you all there is to know about being a foreigner abroad? Give me a break. Twelve months I can handle, but four, five, perhaps even six months? Nah.


Like I said, agree to disagree, but this is coming from someone who actually moved around the globe for eighteen years and grew up in various countries. As in, becoming one with the locals, learning about all the ins and outs, the language, the culture, the mindset. All of it. The ultimate Third Culture Kid; as we like to refer to it. Think diplomat families, families that work in the oil industry; a job for which a parent is required to move to a new city every couple of years.


Long story short, does this upbringing sound familiar? Then here are eight things you’re going to recognize oh so well.


1. The question: ‘where are you from?’

Ugh.  Awful. I hate this one. If anyone ever meets me they’ll hear an American accent, they’ll learn I was born in London, but I carry around a Dutch passport. And then I haven’t even covered all the countries I was brought up in. Another comment I’ve learned to hate is when people claim you’re from the country you were born in. If this were the case, my parents would have a British kid, a German one, and one from the United Arab Emirates. Pardonnez-moi?


2. You can easily calculate time differences

Setting up Skype dates is easy. 6 hours? 9? Perhaps even 11? Don’t worry, scheduling in time to talk and update each other on life isn’t a problem at all and you always know what time it is wherever they are in the world. And when you set up those Skype dates, even if it requires waking up at the most ungodly hour, they’re completely worth it.


3. You are a food snob

You always try local delicacies. Escargots? Sure, why the heck not. Haggis? Alright. Vegemite? If the Aussie’s like it, better give it a go. You’ve sampled not only the best, but also the weirdest local dishes out there. You’ve probably learned that sushi in western countries is nowhere near what it’s like when it’s served in Japan and that eating fries with mayo really isn’t weird at all.


4. You’ve always got a free place to spend the night when you travel

Quite possibly the best aspect of growing up abroad. You seem to know people all over the globe so when you travel; you’ve always got a couch to crash on. All you’ve got to pay for is your flight ticket!


5. You’re probably celebrating your 10th Facebook anniversary this year

October 6th, 2006 was when I got my Facebook account. Almost TEN years ago. This is insane. As in, this is when you had to be enrolled in a college in the States to get access, which back in 2006 a friend helped me fake and I’m pretty sure I pretended to go to a college in Texas. Man, the difference a decade makes.


6. You always have cool stories to tell

I don’t want to brag, but I don’t know too many people that are capable of saying they went to school with a big name in Hollywood (think popular Bond girl), met the potential future president of the United States (hi, Hillary), or had her high school prom in the Paris Hilton (the hotel guys, the hotel) with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Okay, bragging over.


7. You’re either bilingual or trilingual or perhaps even more

You probably spoke a different language at home than you did at school. And at school you were probably forced to add an additional language to your school courses. Not bad for your resume, huh?


8. You learn that ‘home’ is in fact not a place, it’s the people

Ultimately, you learn that it’s not the city you live in, but it’s the people who define what home is to you. Your family, the friends you make along the way. Bundle them all up into one and it’s your definition of the word.


Photo credit: Love Chic Living