My latest collection of recommended posts about expatriate life and Third Culture Kids – this week blending stories of practicalities and emotions.
Sentimental means “settled” and I don’t like that
In this lovely little piece Lauren reflects on receiving inherited furniture – and realising that, for the first time in her life, she owns physical objects she can’t pack into a suitcase. That’s a big deal for an ATCK! She comes to a work-in-process conclusion:
“I am learning to be content rooting myself for a while. Learning to invest in friendships and to plant trees – both of which need time settled in one place to see grow. . .I am learning to value the sentimental- even when it doesn’t fit in my suitcase.”
Too stupid to order ice cream in the US?
Share the Love
I love this little piece about buying ice cream, and the differences between doing so in the US and Europe. It’s a great illustration of the sorts of little things that change when one moves. Simple things like ice cream require adjustment and understanding! The sheer number of things that require thought in a new place can be overwhelming (something I’ve written about before).
Life’s humble hunt – part 1
Life’s humble hunt – part 2
The Black Expat
This series of two posts tells the story of TCK Adrienne, as she met and married the untravelled Terek, and embarked on overseas adventures together – eventually adding the complication of an MS diagnosis, and now raising their own TCKs in Malawi. I particularly appreciated this observation, about the nature of childhood (not knowing anything else) and recognising different values in the culture around you.
“Since our children are [young] they don’t know any different so they have nothing to compare it to. They don’t know what’s going on in the States or that they’re American. They’re really just free children. And I don’t know what to compare it to either, because they’re our only children and they were only eight months and twenty-one months when we moved. There are things we enjoy about being here that I think will help shape them into patient people. Our adrenaline rushes all the time as Americans. Or at least in my family. Here, the things that ordinarily would upset us, don’t upset someone. They just have a different type of calm. I’ve noticed that here in Africa. I’m hoping our children pick up on a lot of that.”
The Guilt Of Distance
I Am A Triangle
Living abroad comes with many advantages, but there is also a price to pay (something I’ve written about before). This is a post that opens up feeling many expats would rather leave closed away – the guilt of being away from people we love. This post discusses the pain and guilt of seeing parents age, from a distance. It raises questions the author has no answers for – questions which perhaps don’t have answers, or at least not easy ones. Sometimes it’s helpful to just sit with these feelings, whether or not answers come.
I am peculiar here, might as well embrace it
A Life Overseas
I love this post, with its quirky stories of being the ‘peculiar’ foreigner in a remote village. I love author Anisha’s desire to blend in, to be part of the community, and also her pragmatic acceptance that this will never completely happen in her situation. It’s an important balance, I think.
“I’d like to think I’ve got the hang of living here, but the reality is I probably truly understand about 20% of the cultural happenings around me. The society here is so complex, and I am so bizarre to them. . .Peculiarity is something I can embrace because it’s what I really am. Of course I am hopeful the longer I live here the more I’ll understand the intricacies of this culture. But why fool myself? Someone will probably always want to sneak a peek in my fridge.”
‘What’s up with that white voice?’: The tricky art of linguistic code-switching
This article looks at “code switching” – adjusting the way one speaks – from a minority culture to majority culture manner of speech. Code switching is something quite familiar to many TCKs. I have heard many stories of sub-conscious code switching, and of this creating conflict with others who don’t understand why this happens. An interesting piece to better understand why we change ourselves to match others, and the toll this takes.
Do writers need a nationality?
Elsewhere: A Journal of Place
This is a really interesting read. Author Vesna Main reflects on what it means to be identified by nationality. A review of her work labelled her with her country of birth, although she has lived elsewhere for 40 years and writes in a different language. Her musings on belonging, and belonging rooted in something other than place, are fascinating.
“So, what is it, I wondered, that is supposed to make me a Croatian writer? What is it that makes most people insist on a label of nationality? Is it simply a shorthand to enable communication? Or is it an expression of a belief that everyone ought to belong to a nation and that those who do not are somehow morally deficient and untrustworthy?. . .My fellow nationals are other writers, some published, some toiling in patient obscurity. I have chosen to belong with them. And if you ask me whether I miss this country of writers on the days when life intervenes, yes, absolutely, I do. I am ‘normal’, after all.”