Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Being a 'third culture kid'

by : 
EmilyW

Third culture kid is a term in English that is used to describe children who have grown up in a different culture to that of their parents. There are great things about experiencing such a unique childhood, but third culture kids can also face many challenges.

I was born in England, to English parents, but when I was two years old my dad got a new job in  Poland. Since then I have lived in four other countries around the world, and although I have a British passport I sometimes don't feel very English at all!

One of the best things about moving around a lot when I was younger was experiencing many diverse cultures and countries. I was able to try different foods, learn different languages, experience different traditions and meet people from different backgrounds. I am also lucky to now have friends all over the world, from Nigeria to Canada, that I keep in regular contact with. Having to go to a new school every two years or so also made making new friends much easier, and I think I adapt well to new situations. And of course, moving around so much prepared me very well for my year abroad!

However, it wasn't always easy. It often felt like I had only just settled in to the new school, city and culture before my parents told me we were moving again. Leaving my friends behind was devastating as a child, and I have lost touch with many people I was very close to because one of us moved country. It was also very disorientating to have an English passport, but not feel very English at all. Because I had no access to English culture, returning 'home' often felt like visiting a foreign country. When I started university in England, references to English television, English games and English education were completely lost on me! Happily, now I feel more at home in England - although the question, "where are you from?" still confuses me!

At the time, I didn't realise how incredible lucky I was to have such an exciting childhood. Because I went to international schools, where most other students were also third culture kids, I thought my life was normal. Now I am so grateful for the unique opportunities I had, and it has made me want to continue to travel around the world for a very long time!

Discussion

Have you ever moved to a new house, school or city? Was it easy or difficult for you to adapt?