An unsettled but very happy Third Culture Kid: Part 1

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A TCK life

This is the first of a series of three guest posts from Cecilia, charting her upbringing and nomadic adult life. She has lived in numerous countries and travelled to many more and has great advice to offer.

Expat or Third Culture Kid in Beijing
Cecilia and friend in Beijing

Don’t worry, I am a Third Culture Kid and I turned out fine-ish. I have a stable job (multiple), I am currently living in Turkey for fun, and I have a close group of friends from all the places where I have lived. Sure, I have itchy-feet syndrome, commonly known as grass-is-always-greener disease, but I am a proactive member of society. I promise you that moving your kids abroad will not damage them irreparably, no matter what they howl at you when you break the news. In fact, it will become one of the most amazing things that will ever happen to them in their lives. I know that your kids will moan and complain and flash you the mopey eyes, but do not be swayed. It is not easy to be uprooted and it is never easy to be uprooted multiple times. However, by not going, you, and they, will miss out on a life-changing experience.

One of my friends owned a camel!

There are three moves that particularly stood out for me.

I was born abroad in Hong Kong and by that time, my dad had already begun the State Department lifestyle. I had no point of reference for a stable upbringing and for my first couple of moves to Calcutta, Taiwan, Beijing, and then New Delhi, I faced them all with the same attitude: calm acceptance. I was a small child and what my parents said went. Then I got to New Delhi at the ripe at of six. I stayed for four years and that was the longest that I had ever been in one place.

Ignoring my first year of adjustment, I made my four best friends by the second year and we were thick as thieves by the third.

One of my friends owned a camel and another had a giant front yard that housed our entire Girl Scout troop. This house came complete with a forest in the backyard that we were able to go through in order to earn our Forest Explorer Badge. Whenever I was “homesick” for the U.S., I had the American Embassy Compound with its commissary full of American goodies. For vacations I went to tiger reserves, went on caravans through the desert, and escaped to Hong Kong when I needed a break from life in India. My life was great and I was really lucky that all of my best friends were able to stick around until my fourth year.

A competition to see who cried the longest time

I had always known that my family and I were going to leave after four years. It was actually a miracle that we stayed three years, since my dad had to apply for an extension and it was iffy. I still remember getting the good news and running around my school campus screaming it out. I am pretty sure I startled quite a few high-schoolers who bemusedly watched a small eight-year-old girl cavorting around their side of the school. My relief at this inevitable move was great and I was thrilled that I did not need to deal with the painful break that was sure to come.

When the time for the move did arrive, I was devastated. I literally cried for three days straight. The reason I know this is because my parents allowed me to have an extended sleepover and we spent the whole time having a competition to see who could keep the tears going the longest.

Continued here…

by Cecilia Haynes 

Cecilia is a diplobrat who was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Calcutta, Taiwan, Beijing, New Delhi, Virginia, Chennai, and Manila. Finding that repatriation did not agree with her, she moved to Hong Kong after graduating from university. From there she ate a trail through Lhasa, Dharamsala, and Xining before finding a wealth of sun and food in Alanya, Turkey. Her itchy feet have stilled in the Mediterranean Sea, at least for the year.

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