A 'Third Culture Kid' (TCK) is an individual who has spent a significant part of their early life in a culture other than that of their parents. Lots of students at BSG can be considered a TCK, and research shows there are many benefits, such as an expanded world view, interpersonal sensitivity and multilingualism. But what do those students think?
Bethany and Dylan grew up very differently from each other, but share the fact that they are TCKs and graduated from The British School of Guangzhou. So is the third culture experience a positive one overall?
Countries lived in: UK, Sri Lanka and China
Third culture influence presented itself to me in the form of East vs. West. Born in the UK, to Sri Lankan heritage it was easy for me to confuse my life at home with life in the outside world. I remember mistaking Singhalese words for English ones and being looked at as if I was speaking an alien language.
It was for that reason that I never really developed the ability to speak Singhalese; too confusing. Moving to China added a whole new dimension, in terms of experience, culture and even language. Currently, I am more fluent in Chinese than my ethnic language, amplifying my third culture status.
On the other hand, there is the sense of cultural dilution that I occasionally feel when I go back to visit my grandparents in Sri Lanka. I feel like a stranger in my own home. But this is what is so astounding about the term ‘third culture,’ because I know I have three countries that I can call home, that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Each country complements each other in the most amazing way, and because of this I am able to connect with so many different nationalities (this is why a third culture experience is priceless). This is an experience that I believe has transferred into life at university, whether it is discussions at seminars or simply relating to other people.
Countries lived in: Indonesia, USA, Vietnam, Taiwan, China
Third culture kids can be defined as, “a person who has spent a significant part of his/her developmental years in a culture other than their parents’.” Comparing myself to my grandparents, their life was pretty much unchanged and about as cultured as a piece of toast. I think the experience I earned from living in so many different countries helped massively in my preparation for university, especially in the personal statement.
I feel that a third culture wouldn’t be for everyone, but would recommend it nonetheless, as I feel that it’s a great experience that provides you with the ability to see yourself and others in a broader perspective, and not through a keyhole. Then again, it could be very difficult for others to adapt to a different lifestyle very different from the comfortable one that they know. Being exposed to so many different cultures will help my career in many different ways.
I also feel that if I had stayed in the UK, the friends that I could have made would be a part of my life for practically all of it, without having to chop and change and start all over again. In the expat environment, it is difficult to maintain friendship for life.