The Moment I Became a TCK

It has been eighteen years since my parents moved our family to Uganda.
That’s a whole young adult’s life.

I still remember the day my father told us we’d be moving, I still hear that thought racing through my mind, ” I don’t want to live in the bush!”
I remember the months of preparation, vaccinations and goodbyes.
I still feel the shivers I had the night before we actually left because everything started to become so real.
I recall the smells, the faces, the places we saw when we first landed in our new home. The sound of “Mzungu, Mzungu” will forever be ringing in my ear and heart.

A whole young adult’s life of memories.

A lot has happened since then.
We have moved back to Germany and struggled with the pains of re-entry.
I have changed houses many more times, graduated from school and university, found a job, tried to settle down.

Eighteen years ago I became a TCK and no matter how much I have become accustomed to the German way of doing things, I am still a person who is caught between the worlds and often lost between cultures.
I yearn for a stable place to settle down and truly belong while googling flight prices and hearing that Fernweh call deep inside of me.
I wonder where all the time has gone and mourn the people, places and things I had to let go of.
I long to return to the places I still call home, to discover the parts of myself I have left behind there all these years ago.

What are your early TCK memories? How do you use your TCK experience today? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

The Art of Vacationing

When I was growing up, our family vacations looked like this:
Drive for hours, visit friends in other cities or countries, stay at holiday homes or at someone’s house.
We never stayed in a hotel because
a) missionary families can’t afford that and
b) it felt somehow wrong to be in a fancy clean place and have other people serve you when there’s poverty and a completely different culture out there to explore.

I loved our kind of vacations.
We saw, experienced and tasted things so far off from any hotel complex or all inclusive trip. Whenever I travel today, it’s as close to the local culture as possible.

So it’s quite understandable that I was hesitant at first, when  a friend called me in April and asked if I wanted to escape into the sun with her. One week in Egypt, all-inclusive style.

But when I looked at the non-changing, depressing grey sky outside, I agreed to come.

IMG_20180401_174337

When we arrived at the hotel at 3 a.m.,  I couldn’t believe we would stay here.
Everything seemed like a magical wonderland – a beautiful compound with little bungalows and a pool, directly next to the Red Sea.
The first day was weird and I caught myself asking, “is this included in the price?” whenever we were offered large towels, more food or a drink.

It felt like I don’t deserve to be spoiled like that.

13421523140600371

But I do. You do.

We all deserve to treated nicely and be pampered once in a while.
When life keeps us busy and drains all energy from us – we all deserve some space for rest and service and restoration. Even more so, we need the permission to let go and accept the gifts all around us. 
They might be a week in some beautiful place.
They might be a small act of service that someone does for us.
They might be a day off when we allow ourselves to fully rest.
They might be a word of encouragement, a good night’s sleep, a healthy meal with friends.
The One who made us, the One who knows all and sees all,  has offered us life in abundance – and it’s all-inclusive. 

IMG_20180407_165538

Full Disclosure: The week was balm to my soul. 
Sleeping without an alarm clock.
Delicious food.
Basking in the sun.
Reading without a time limit.
Overcoming my fear of water (that’s a whole different story to share!).
Spending the day without an agenda.

What was the best vacation you’ve had so far?
What will your next vacation look like? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Flying Lessons

They say Third Culture Kids fly before they walk.

I wasn’t even two years old and could barely walk when my parents took me on my first flight to Crete. It was the first of many journeys around the globe and the beginning of a lifetime of memories.

A plane ride can change everything. You board the plane in one coutnry and get off in a totally different world. many TCKs would probably agree that this doesn’t come wihtout baggage. Befoer airplanes were invented, people spent weeks and months on ships to get from one place to another, and maybe that was actually a good idea. While you were traveling, your heart and soul had time to catch up with your body. Today we jump between continents and cultures so quickly that we sometimes lose ourselves along the way.

Yet.
I can’t help but travel.

Whenever I’m at the airport – even just to pick someone up – there’s this tingling sensation inside of me, as if a spell begged to fly away.

Flights take me to other countries and open up the world to me.
They’re the first key to unlock someone else’s culture and story.
Flights challenge me to step outside my own bubble and discover that the world is bigger, more diverse and colorful than what I see around me. They call into question what I’ve known about myself and others. They provide vast opportunities to learn and to grow.
Flights connect me to dear friends I had to leave behind, they serve as a conduit to seemingly lost parts of my own self.
Flights might never fully cure my wanderlust, but they give me a glimpse of what could be.

Do you enjoy flying? What have you learned from traveling?


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

A Third Culture Kid’s Soul

There are two souls in this TCK heart of mine.

I want to explore this beautiful world, marvel at nature’s wonders, discover all the richness it has to offer.
I want to go further and wider, see and smell and taste things I have not encountered before.
I want to meet people who are different from myself, listen to their stories and learn something new.
I don’t want to go somewhere twice because there is still so much more to explore.

I want to stay in one place and dig into its soil, inspect its little quirks and hidden treasures.
I want to go deeper and longer, see and smell and taste things that are familiar and remind me of home.
I want to build connection with people and see them develop into friendships, I want to experience belonging.
I want to know what it feels like to come home to a place and people and be fully myself. 

Two souls rage inside of me.
Telling me to go.
Begging me to return and stay.

As a TCK, I roam the globe in search of adventure, discovery and wonder.
I get lost in different cultures, smells and friendships.
I leave pieces of myself behind whenever I have to say goodbye.
And then I travel to find them again.

People like us have pieces of ourselves scattered across this globe – and travel gives us access to our complete selves. 

Quote from the excellent keynote presentation by Sean Ghazi at the Families in Global Transition Conference 2018 in The Hague

Any other Third Culture Kids who can relate?
How do you deal with this battle inside of you? 


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

 

 

 

 

It’s Different Than You Think

Since I have lived in many different places, it happened quite a few times that people have asked me which of my homes is the best.
How can I even compare them? Each country and culture is so unique, all of them have their strengths and challenges, none is superior to the other.

“There is no better or worse. There is just different. In the most wonderful way.”

Every day we are surrounded by all kinds of people.
If I just glance around the people walking on the street, the students in my classroom, the friends I hang out with – I see diversity.
Our social media channels and political conversations are full of debates on how to create community in our diversity. There are too many voices that say some are better than others, there are too many boxes we sort each other in, there is too deep fear of the other that ultimately separates us from ourselves.

But what if we changed perspective for a moment?
What if we saw the people around us not as “the other”, but as mirrors of ourselves? What if we gave them the chance to reveal a little more to us about the world and what it means to be human?
What if we allowed each other to share a glimpse of the eternal together?

If we look closer, we are more connected than we think.
We are unique in our lives, characters and talents.
Each of our stories deserves to be told and heard.

There’s no better or worse.
We’re just different.
In the most wonderful way.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.
Cover Photo: Pujohn Das on Unsplash

What’s Your Story?

“So…where are you from?”

Last night I was at a gathering for young business leaders and people who want to make an impact on society. As we got to know each other over cheese fondue, we asked all the ‘normal’ small talk questions.
And there it was again.
The harmless inquiry on my biography that makes my insides curl up and my words tangle up in my mouth. 

Where do I even begin?

As TCKs we are well acquainted with these awkward questions on where we’re from or what we call home. When we don’t have an easy answer straight away we’re often faced with blank stares or even more questions.

So I crafted different versions of my story: the short version for superficial chats, the long version for someone who’s really interested.
I tend to leave parts out which might only bore the others, I rather zoom in on the good parts, the stories that make you laugh or wonder.

Don’t we all find ourselves in such places at times?

Our life stories are supposed to look perfect. We brush them up with Instagram filters and hide the parts we’d rather not make public. We’re all about sharing – even if we actually just share parts of it. 

22196406_1934626280133384_2265069204059289635_n

I sometimes wonder if we don’t miss out on a lot of great things by editing our life stories.
We show ourselves, but only parts of us.
What if we revealed something else?
What if we gave someone the gift of the unedited, raw pieces of our lives?
What if we unveiled the dark spots in our story – the doubts, the unanswered questions, the experiences that don’t make sense?
What if we added a bit more color to the otherwise perfect picture?

Our stories are the greatest gift we have.
When we share from ourselves we invite someone else to get to know us, the real us.
We actually get to know and love ourselves more by embracing our own stories, all of it.
And we allow the Lord to reveal a bit more of himself in our broken narratives.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.

Yearning for a Home

So…where are you from?
Quite a typical question in a smalltalk setting.
To a TCK, it’s the worst enemy.

Somehow “place” has got a spell on us.
The places we’ve lived in have made us who we are today, they have shaped our understanding of ourselves, they have given us a home in this big wide world.

Place

But what if you change place all the time?
What home remains for us restless wanderers?

In the last two years I have made an interesting discovery: I actually do like to stay somewhere.
To take hold of a place.
To make a home somewhere.

This is strikingly new to someone who has moved more than twenty times in her not-so-long life.
I can’t promise I’ll stay forever.
I can’t guarantee I’m going to like everything about it.

But for now, I want to make an effort to set down roots here and really settle into the place I’ve been given.
Get to know the people around me.
Appreciate the beauty right in front of me.
Rest in the knowledge that this restlessness is a deep yearning for the ultimate home – the place where all our hearts do belong.

Psst, if you’re looking for some great reading on this prompt, check out Tsh’s memoir “At Home in the World” or Jen Pollock Michel’s “Keeping Place“.


Writing for Five Minute Friday today.