A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.
Growing up, I knew that my childhood was much different than other kids. I never talked about what I did when I wasn’t in school, because it was taken to as bragging. Growing up, the culture in my household was very German and American, but I lived in the US for schooling and in Spain any time I wasn’t in school. This led me to really have a mixed culture and understanding of the world. I feel stuck between two worlds, really belonging to neither, but able to blend in well enough.
I never knew that there was a name for people like me who grew up between cultures. Third Culture Kid, I guess it makes sense, because we have taken two (or more) cultures and made a third one out of it.
However, I would never trade my childhood for anything. It opened my eyes to how completely diverse and awesome the world is, and bit me with the travel bug before I can even remember. I learned the power of languages and understanding of people’s cultures.
When I have children, they will also grow up between cultures, or at the very least go on trips to different countries enough to be able to absorb the differences in culture. The different culture doesn’t have to be from across the world, but could be just a neighboring country.
Growing up a third culture kid might be hard, and it was, but who I grew up being I wouldn’t change for anything. I can adapt to different cultures and situations with ease, something which I value more than anything else.