Leaving HOME to go HOME

Global nomads, TCKs, and Expats all know the feeling of leaving your one home to go to your other home.  My family and I just made our annual trip of leaving our home in New Jersey, USA to come home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter where I am, I always am missing something.

Things I miss about HOME in the USA:

  • Family and friends
  • Food-   real pizza, hoagies, American beef, Mexican
  • Road rules
  • Shopping in malls, Target, huge grocery stores and good shoe stores
  • The weather- no humidity and cool

Our Family at our beach in Ocean City, NJ

Kayaking in New York

 

Things I miss about HOME in Malaysia:

  • Friends
  • Food- satay, spicy noodles, curries
  • Not having to obey road rules
  • Shopping in markets and stalls
  • The weather- hot sunny days everyday

Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

Rain Forest in Malaysia

 

I guess what is really strange is that the things I miss the most are the things that eventually drive me crazy and make me ready to return to the other home again for a dose of reality!!  I am so lucky to be able to call two amazing places “home!”

 

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Third Culture Kid~ Where Are You From?

When I was younger, there was a four-word phrase that sent panic to my mind… “WHERE ARE YOU FROM?” Hmmmmmm… How to answer that loaded question? Most people can answer with a one-word response. My response is a paragraph:

Well, I am an American of European descent. I was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, but I moved to San Francisco, California. I was raised in Massachusetts as a young child. I moved to Kuwait and then Bahrain with a short stint in Atlanta, Georgia that I would like to forget! I graduated from an international school in Bahrain. My legal address was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, but I never really lived there. I went to university in Pennsylvania, but I left after two and a half years. I became a flight attendant where I was “based” in London, but I resided in Bahrain. Then I settled in Ocean City, New Jersey. (This was all before I was 25 years old) I got married and then raised my young children in Ocean City, New Jersey. When my children were 8 and 9 years old we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I have been for 8 years. We return each summer to the USA and go to PA, NJ, and NY. Our legal address is now NJ, but we no longer own property in NJ. My family and my husband’s family are mostly living in that tri-state area. Hmmmmmm… You guess!?! Where am I from?

Now the questions begin to fly… Am I crazy? Do I have attachment issues? Am I an orphan? Do I exaggerate? Was I a military brat? Am I in the military?NO! I was a Third Culture Kid (TCK) who moved for my father’s work and now for my work. According to American sociologist David C. Pollock, “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of [their] developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

TCKs usually answer the “Where are you from?” question with vagueness like, “Home is where the heart is.”  or “Everywhere, but nowhere.” Many of us cannot easily answer the question. I am living abroad again in Malaysia and for the first time in a long time, I feel truly HOME even though I am not Malaysian. For us Third Culture Kids and adults, “home” is not a place. It is a concept. Home to me is where I feel understood, accepted and comfortable with my life choices. Now that I am an adult and I can appreciate all the advantages of being a TCK, the question does not frighten me any more. I embrace it and look forward to hearing other traveler’s answers.

Are you a TCK? How do you answer the question, Where are you from?

My TCK World Map:

These are the flags of the countries that have influenced who I am.