What do you mean “3rd Culture Adult”?

Trust me, I am not an expert in cultural anything (some would argue I am not even an adult) – I just liked the name!

But, there is a real thing called a Third Culture Kid. There is even a movie I haven’t seen about it.

A TCK is basically a child who grows up outside of the country of culture of their parents. If you want a better explanation that that, there is a wonderful blog I follow thirdculturekidlife.com which is much more insightful than I could ever hope to be.

When I think of TCK’s I think of international schools all over the world, Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia. The kind of places where adults go to have a better lifestyle and where children have the craziest accents, multi racial friendship groups and the ability to converse in the host nation’s language as well as that of both parents.

Let me give you a true life example:

I once was the (admittedly terrible) nanny for a family of 3 boys. Maybe aged 7, 3 & 1. I lived under their stairs in London. They had just moved to the UK. Their mother was French and their Father German and they had all been living in Italy for many years prior.

Here is their language profile:

Language 1 – We hear English at school and Kindergarten

Language 2 – Mum speaks French to us

Language 3 – Dad speaks German to us (and Kindergarten is a German word too – imagine the confusion when you show up to Kindergarten and everyone is speaking English!)

Language 4 – Everyone used to speak Italian to us on the streets. Our parents speak Italian to each other.

Languages 5 & 6 – our Nanny speaks babies Italian (potentially with a smattering of Spanish thrown in for good measure) and English with a different (some might say superior) accent.

This kind of profile is not unusual in a TKC .No wonder they were a bit confused! Want to know what this has to do with me, a 43 year old wanderer? Next blog, I will try to explain.


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