Being a ThirdCultureKid

I ran into a post today by another TCK through Twitter. I can’t remember exactly how now… Anyway, in her post, she explains who she is through one of those ‘You know you’re a…’ lists. My turn!

First off, I’ve been a TCK since I was six. Little ol’ me was having a lekker time in South Africa when my dad got a job in Shanghai, China. We lived there for eight years before moving to Japan. I graduated from an international school in Yokohama, and then I made a mistake. Having grown up in Asia as a minority and with friends who understood the international, multi-cultural lifestyle, I wasn’t prepared to go to university in the UK. I’ve been here two years and I still feel totally out of place, more so than I did in Asia, purely because here I don’t have an expat community to mesh with.

Now, first to give credit to the site this list comes from: TCKID.

The definition, according to TCKID, of a TCK is: a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. I haven’t lived in my home country since I was six, unless you count the annual trips back to see family.

There are different types of TCKs: military brats, diplomat kids, missionary kids, business kids and ‘other’ (TCKs that don’t fit into any of the other categories). I’m a business kid, my dad having worked for Unilever for a couple of decades before he quit to work in the UK. (He regrets the move, too.)

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So it’s been a while.

But I’m back.

I was in South Africa. No internet. It was actually quite refreshing.

I have a few things to share with you from that trip, starting with my lamenting that I am no longer a teenager. Alas, on the 15th of July, I joined the ranks of the twenty-somethings. Well, I turned twenty at least.

One of my gifts from my mother was a set of four art lessons with the owner of an art gallery. In fact, she has a little website that you can check out. If you’re ever in George, swing by Cape Palette, as she has some lovely art, and she herself is a darling. She helped me get started with oil painting, advising me to start by copying other people’s painting before attempting to formulate my own. Maybe I’ll share with you all my versions along with the originals I tried to copy.

My neighbour also introduced me to the local hospital’s head occupational therapist. It is of majority opinion that George Hospital is one of the best government hospitals in the country. It’s fairly large, being a secondary hospital, and yet the hospital hires only three OTs, including one community OT. They have to handle everything, from burn victims to children to those with psychiatric problems. I spent several days there with the two OTs working within the hospital, and I swear I learned a lot more about what OTs do there than I do in a semester of lectures. I was also invited to come along to a regional OTASA (OT Association of South Africa) meeting, which I eagerly accepted. I’m glad I did, as I got to meet several OTs who work in the area and may have even been given a job offer by an OT with her own paediatric private practice. My ideal job. *sigh* But who knows if I’ll be able to accept it. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to start working in SA straight away after graduating in the UK.

This holiday gave me evidence for the theory behind occupational therapy: your health is influenced by your occupations and your environment. I can tell you I felt far healthier in South Africa because of the sunshine and all the positive people around me who seemed to care about me. I was busy there, what with the painting, volunteering and networking. I felt good.