[31 Days] Day 6 Teach

It’s Day 6 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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The best thing about growing up abroad is the people. 
They make other cultures come alive. 
They can drive you crazy but they also teach you so much. 

There’s a fact: Public transportation in the American South is scarce to non-existant. Coming from Germany this was quite an adjustment suddenly being dependent on walking everywhere. But even more, being showered in blessings from new American friends. 
They drove me to the mall even though they didn’t even have to go shopping.
They picked me up no matter how late it was.
They threw over their inner time tables to have coffee with me and catch up.
They made their love practical and acted on what they preached.


There’s a saying: Europeans have got the watches, but Africans have the time. 
This is quite true. 
A meeting is not only about getting things done but about seeing you. 
The person. 
The story behind the face. 

They taught me how to eat sugar cane like a pig, how to really listen to people. 

How to stay calm when your bus is delayed for five hours. 
How to cook maize pap without lumps. 
How to be so poor on the outside and yet so amazingly rich on the inside, drawing from never ending inner depths and strengths.  

They have shown me how to dance in the rain and always see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What are the most memorable things you have learned in another culture? 

[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?

[31 Days] Day 4 Learn

It’s Day 4 of the 31 Days in the Life of a TCK series! Welcome! You can find more info on the series here. And don’t forget to subscribe and follow the journey!
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Come on, just do it and throw the ball. 
Ask them their names, ask them about the weather, about anything. 
Make some small talk. 
O wait, they don’t understand a word I’m saying. 
They don’t look like me. They’re so different from me. 
Or am I different from them?
It’s interesting how simple things can become the scariest steps out of a sudden. 
Ordinary things like playing ball with other kids can be a real adventure when you don’t speak their language and have no idea about how life works around here.


Slowly I made my first steps in the Ugandan culture. 

Playing ball with our neighbors, visiting other kids, trying to find a rhythm again.
It was like starting all over. 

I was a little child again, having to learn a new language and getting to know people. 
You quickly realize that language is so much more than new words and sounds. 
It’s a code of behavior, a stream of thoughts, a way of life.
You’re no longer on the inside and part of an established group. 

Your differences made you the outsider looking in. 
Making you want to observe and learn and belong.

The habit of observing and taking it all in is something I still practice and treasure until today. 
And I guess many TCKs agree that we don’t just want to look in from the outside. 

We long to belong. 

And this might take a while to observe from the background, learning the codes, and tuning our lives to these new rhythms. 

Do you remember your first steps in a new country? Share them with us! 

[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?

[31 Days] Day 1 Move

It’s October and the writing adventure begins….It’s Day 1 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 thought my dad was out of his mind. 
He couldn’t be serious.

“We are going to move to Uganda. I feel that God has called me to do ministry there.”

A phrase TCKs are all too familiar with. Move.
The sentence after might differ, may it be that the parents felt called by God. 
May it be that their assignment within the military had changed. 
May it be that some new fancy business or diplomatic position was awaiting them.

The result is the same. 
They’re going to move and you as their child have to move, too.
Pack your things yet again, fit all your belongings into one suitcase. 
It’s not your first time, so you’re an expert in that already.
Saying goodbye to friends and places once more, not knowing if or when you’ll ever see them again.

I didn’t want to move, didn’t want to step out into the world again. 
I was a teenager who had just changed schools and discovered new places, friends, music, teenage culture. 
I didn’t want to leave the thing behind I had called home.  
I wasn’t ready for this feeling.

It’s that feeling of being pulled by the roots, forcefully removed from a place of comfort. 

About to be planted into unknown ground.
That mixture of wild emotions, somewhere between anger, sadness, despair. 
And a tiny bit of hope. 
Hope that your roots will touch new and better ground.
And so it begins.

(I have to add that this was just the very beginning of the journey, about a year before we actually left for Uganda. In that year God surely worked miracles in all three of us children. He turned our rejection into excitement and we were finally ready to go; yes, actually wanted to go. Miracles still do happen, folks.) 

How did your parents tell you about moves? What were your reactions? 

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…