The Culture Clash

By Zoe

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Do you remember the moment the plane touched down in your new home: that buzz of excitement for a new future? Some people may be scared or even fearful as they are out of their comfort zone but not us. We, Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and adults (TCAs), are chameleons able to blend into any culture due to our multicultural upbringing yet… 

“When that culture contradicts our moral philosophy, can we still adapt?”

 Picture the scene: landing into China, arriving and unpacking your life (contained in your pieces of luggage) and starting to meet others: it is all going well, you had a friendly chat with your neighbor and finally used that Mandarin you were practicing; however, you start to chat with people more often about normal mundane topics, and it goes downhill. 

 Chatting enthusiastically about your favorite music band? You get blank looks and awkward silence. 

 This seems like nothing (and you brush it off) but then it happens again. 

People ask you about something unknown and walk away looking annoyed after you quickly explain that you have not heard about it.

Such an example highlights what life can be like for some TCKs when moving back to the place where the passport says they are ‘from.’It is a dreadful experience, especially when fellow children block the returning TCK for being ‘weird’ or ‘living in a cave’ that can lead to feelings of isolation. It can also happen as adults when talking about politics or controversial topics which are seen as socially unacceptable, especially when speaking out against governmental authority.

For example, the results of Brexit (the United Kingdom leaving the European Union) for many who have built their lives overseas has been a difficult time, especially for those living in the UK. People speaking against freedom of movement and discriminating against immigrants can be heartbreaking for TCKs who have a broader outlook and favor globalization. It can lead to arguments and leave some TCKs questioning themselves and others in such uncertain times. 

In general, Third Culture Kids and Adults are well adapted at blending into new cultures. Yet, we too suffer from ‘culture clash’ and unforeseen challenges. It is human nature. This is why this online platform made for TCKs and adults is so important in a global world. It gives people a lifeline and educates them so that, if it can, culture clash can be minimized.

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