Reflection and Transition: Becoming an Adult Third Culture Kid

It has been just over two years that we’ve been living in New England. Some days it feels like it’s been much longer than that, and other days it’s hard to believe it’s been already two years. This move was a big change in so many ways and really played a huge part in my transition from third culture kid to a third culture adult (or more commonly an “adult third culture kid – ATCK). I was an adult before, in all ‘official’ senses of the term, but I still had the comfort of the family home, I could return to a TCK environment regularly and was still in a familiar place. Coming here was when I truly entered the adult world, in so many ways. And although I find it odd to consider myself an adult and to realize I’m 27, well on my way to 28, I know I am an adult and a capable one. I still don’t really feel like one, but I seem to be doing a good job pretending…so far.

This move didn’t just make me transition into really being an adult, but it also made me acutely aware of how I was officially an adult TCK. I realized just how much impact my TCK life had on me when I was no longer in a TCK environment. I had already noticed it when I went to university, but I could (and did) return often to my high-school and I was still at home too. I was also in a city and country that has many foreigners, so even if they weren’t TCKs, we weren’t completely the odd ones left out. Moving over here was a whole different story. We’re in a relatively small, very American town and foreigners are very rare. This has a much wider reach than university and it’s been a big challenge in the transition. That’s when you really feel how different you are and just how much perception is impacted by the life you lead growing up.

The years here have made me reflect upon my life growing up as a TCK. I’ve become much more aware of how grateful I am for that life and how much I love it, despite the challenges it presented, then and now. I’ve also realized just how different it makes us and how much it changes the way we see the world. I’ve also learned how easy it is to be misunderstood by non-TCKs and to modify my conversation accordingly. It’s definitely been an eye-opening and challenging experience so far, but I know it only makes me better at adapting and tackling whatever comes my way.

Two years later and I’ve figured it out a little. More than last year and the year before, but less than the years to come. I know I’ll never have it fully figured out, but as they say – it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.

Here’s to the journey and to figuring it out a little more each step of the way.

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9 thoughts on “Reflection and Transition: Becoming an Adult Third Culture Kid

    1. Thank you so much, Deanna, I really appreciate your kind comment! 🙂 I’m very glad I found you as well, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of your blog. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to hear from you again!

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  1. We were just talking about this with one of the other ASP teachers- she’ also a TCK and feels so comfortable working at our school since we’ve had such similar experiences as many of our students. I like to think I’d fit in easily to small-town life, I’d adapt to the littleness of the place (in every sense) and tailor my expectations accordingly, since after all that’s something TCKs are so good at, adapting. Then again I’ve never really had to do that (maybe in Galapagos, where most everyone was Ecuadorian, but i worked with lots of international tourists) and reading your blog makes me realise that THINKING about being part of a very small, local community is quite different to the reality of it! There’s bound to be all sorts of lovely aspects to this- I fantasize about American shopping malls and how easy life seems to be there- so enjoy!

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    1. I’m so happy that you’re enjoying my blog so far – what I love most about blogging is connecting with people from all over the globe and seeing what they have to say, so thanks so much for commenting! 🙂

      And also thank you for your kind comment about my wisdom – either I come across wiser in my writing than I really am, and/or living as a TCK makes you grow up in a different way, since you’re exposed to so much throughout childhood and adolescence. But whatever the reason, I’ll happily take your comment 🙂

      Thanks again for commenting and following, and I hope you have a lovely weekend!

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  2. Moving from America to England has taught me so much about who I am and where I’m from. It’s amazing how much we learn by leaving our comfort zone. Say hi to home for me 🙂

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    1. So true. It really is amazing how much we learn when we leave our comfort zone. And we’re generally a lot more resilient than we think! I’ll make sure to say hi and merry christmas from you! 🙂 Say hi to Europe for me 😉

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