[31 Days] Day 12 Adjust

It’s Day 12 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

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I knew this day had to come eventually, but I still wasn’t ready for it. 
No matter how much you prepare, it still hits you out of the blue. 
Culture shock.

The first months in South Africa were full of adventures. 

Every day I met new people, enjoyed driving on the left side, all the delicious food, or having late night conversations with my housemates. 
We had made us a home in this little wooden house, and all being away from loved ones around the globe we had become a family. 

And then they all left. 

Some went back home ay the end of their terms, other were reassigned to another base. Within two weeks our little community changed and I was by myself. 
And hit by a wave of culture shock, homesickness, and anger. 
Out of a sudden I resented everything.

photo credit: Ruth van Reken

In the transition process there are several stages and we need to go through all of them. There’s no recipe how long it will take, but we sure can’t skip one stage.
There is a time of excitement, newness, enjoyment. 

But after an initial honeymoon phase we hit the rock bottom of reality and suddenly feel overwhelmed by culture, people, everything. 
It’s definitely the toughest phase, and yet we need to live through it to get to re-adjustment and realizing that there’s life there after all. 

The key word is transition PROCESS, and as hard as living through it often is we hopefully will experience the depth that comes with it.


How did you live through transition – what was particularly hard and what helped you?

[Five Minute Friday] Care

It’s another Friday, so I am linking up with the writer community at Kate Motaung‘s place.
This post is part 10 of the series “31 Days in the Life of a TCK”. 
Come join the whole conversation here. Don’t forget to subscribe! 
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When we arrived in Uganda we were the only white family in the village. 
But this did not matter because we quickly grew into a new unique family with the people around us.

There were many neighbors around who came by to check out the Mzungus or to play ball. 
We always had tea and cake ready cause no day went by without spontaneous visitors. 
The village became a caring community. 

But also the people on the same compound were our family. 
One lady taught me how to play guitar since the only key instrument in the entire village was a very out of tune church organ. 
Another lady explained Latin syntax to me since I had been convinced that I had to learn Latin in homeschool. Yes, it was a pain but I have a – let’s say unique – relationship to this subject.  
These people, no matter the skin color, were our family. 
They took on roles of far away relatives and told us bedtime stories, they challenged us, they sometimes annoyed us. 
But they took care of us and made us a home away from home. 

 Whenever I moved I found this to be true. 
As soon as you step outside your comfort zone you’re out there. 
Away from home. And it is hard. 
But if you keep your eyes open you’ll find a new home. 
A community of fellow adventurers in South Africa. 
A group of students in Germany. 
A bunch of internationals living the American Dream.
You will find people who care for you if you allow yourself to open up and let them care for you. Away from comfort and familiarity you will find a surprising comfort in people you never suspected. 

Do you have people who take care of you where you are at the moment? 
And where can you be a person taking care of someone else? 

[31 Days] Day 7 Taste

It’s Day 7 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.

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You haven’t lived in a country until you have tasted its food. 
It shows you how people eat, cook and live.

When we used to go out in Uganda I normally ordered posho. 
People would look at me, it was the food of the poor. But I just loved that white tasteless bloc of maize meal.

Until today food is one of the main things that sets off my memories of Uganda. 

The smell of pineapple, the taste of fresh mango. 
The feeling of rice and beans in your fingers, the ground nut sauce. 
And no matter how hard I try I just can’t get the taste right in my own kitchen.



South Africa wouldn’t be the same without its legendary braais. 

Fire at the beach, boere wors, tons of meat, and amazing people. No better way to celebrate Christmas.:)


In the midst of fast food madness the US has some great things to offer. 
Like a bagel for breakfast or some biscuits for brinner (yes, Americans sometimes have breakfast for dinner). 
Like the thanksgiving richness or Christmas deliciousness. 
I am so grateful for wonderful friends who let me tag along for these experiences!


What are your favorite recipes from around the world? 
Please share so we can all satisfy our food cravings! 🙂

[31 Days] Day 5 Stuck

It’s Day 5 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. Don’t forget to subscribe to follow the journey!
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I stepped from one foot to the other, hoping for some progress. 
The task was simple: just go to the shops in a South African township and get some veritable for your phone.


In Germany this is a matter of seconds. 
You stand in a proper line and wait your turn. 
The cashier emotionless takes your money and hands you the piece of paper. 
You’re done.

Well, in South Africa it’s different. 
You need to bring some time. 
There’s no line, rather a group of people in front of the counter. 
Whoever talks first gets served first. 
So I just talk my way to the front and state what I want. 
But it doesn’t work like this. 
You first have to survive the “interrogation”: How are you? How’s the family? How are your 25 chicken? Do you have a cow by now? And don’t you want to marry my son?
A lifestory and some 20 minutes later I successfully leave the store with credit and something to think about.

Whenever we travel and encounter other countries and people, we learn so much. 
We meet people with different skin colors and languages. 
We eat interesting food. 
We get a glimpse into completely different lifestyles. 

But most of all, we learn about ourselves and how much we are stuck in our own cultures and ideas of how life is supposed to work. 
And only if we are willing to let go of some of our customs in exchange for some new we’ll experience the full blessings of travel.

What were some of the hardest things you had to learn abroad and what did you find out about yourself?

[Five Minute Friday] New

It’s Friday, so this means there will be a “normal” Five Minute Friday post here today. Join fellow writers over at Kate‘s!
But it’s also Day 3 of the 31 Days series in the Life of a TCK, so obviously it will all go under this theme. Never heard of the series? No problem, you’re welcome to join in! Find more infos here, then subscribe to get all the posts in your inbox!
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Six years after I had left Uganda I once again stepped onto African ground.
Somehow my heart had drawn me to South Africa, so I would spend a year there doing voluntary work in a township near Pretoria.
While packing, while saying goodbye, while anticipating the adventure – my heart sang: Africa, I am coming back.

I thought I knew Africa.
I thought I knew how things would be, what clothes to wear, what life to live, what people to meet.
Well, in some respect yes.
From the moment my team leader picked me up from the airport and we drove through the countryside I felt at home. Driving on the left side just seemed so much more natural to me than the right (and I still prefer it until today).

But in so many respects no.
Houses looked different, the roads had less potholes and more asphalt, and the people were different.
There were white people who called themselves African, a concept that did not fit in my picture of black-African; white- foreigner.
It took me a while to get used to the mambo jambo of the Rainbow Nation South Africa.

This would not just be another year in Africa. This was something new. 
I was no longer the missionary kid tagged along by the parents and seeing what they did.
This was me being the missionary and doing the work, including all the joys and hardships.

Different good or different bad? Definitely good. But so new and challenging. 

This experience is true for many TCKs who move between cultures and lived in even more countries than me.
You cannot compare one or the other.
Every bit of their lives is different and new.
And that’s okay, it keeps you fresh and challenges a different bit inside of you.

This experience is also true for just life with all its different transitions and life phases.
New job, graduating from college, getting married, having a child, retiring.
We think we know life and yet we always have to discover that there are new facets to it every day. 
Different good or different bad?
Hopefully good.
And new and exciting.

[31 Days] Day 2 View

It’s Day 2 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here.
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After a sad goodbye and completely overweight bags in Frankfurt we got on a plan heading south. We got stuck in Brussels and were between nervous, tired, and excited for what would await us.


Eventually, late at night, we got into Entebbe, Uganda. 
We stepped onto the airfield into the African night. 

The first glimpse of African soil. 

The first smell of smoked fish and red sand. 
The first breeze of fresh air from Lake Victoria.


The next day we could see things at day light. 

The first drive into the city, crowded with people, cars, motor bikes, and chicken running around . 

And then the two hour drive on streets full of potholes and stones. 

Seeing banana plants and cheering people. 
And finally the first view of the place I’d be calling home for the next two years. 


I will always remember that first view. 

There’s nothing like seeing Africa for the first time. 
Even when I returned to the continent six years later to South Africa it was the exact same feeling.
That first view is enough. 

Enough to welcome me, to feel like where I’m supposed to be.

What are your first memories when you stepped onto new ground?

Welcome to 31 Days!



Welcome to 31 Days in the Life of a TCK!

In the midst of state board examinations, organizing weddings and birthdays I have boldly accepted the challenge of writing every day in the month of October. 
Yup, we’ll see how it goes…:)

However, I am not alone in this endeavor: I am linking up with Kate Motaung, who you might know as host of Five Minute Friday
The posts won’t be that long so you can read along easily. You can find the direct links to individual posts below.
And of course, there will still be normal Five Minute Friday posts on Fridays. 🙂  

I am also linking up with TheNester, the platform for all the people taking part in the challenge as well. There are about 1000 of them writing on all kinds of topics – why don’t you go check out a few of them!

The topic I have chosen for this challenge is 31 Days in the Life of a TCK.

TCK stands for Third Culture Kids – people who grew up in multiple cultures, incorporating different elements in their lives, feeling they could belong everywhere and nowhere. You will hear stories about the different stages in my life (Germany-Uganda-Germany-South Africa-Germany-USA-Germany-…) and what I have learned along the way. You will get a glimpse into what it means to live between worlds and what TCKs might enjoy or struggle with. Even better, I hope to get some other voices of dear friends on board, too. Different countries, but with similar experiences and great insight. 
You can find more information on TCKs here. Otherwise just ask! 

I hope you enjoy going on this journey with me! 
I am not just writing for myself, but would love to hear from you. So share your questions, thoughts, experiences…