So it’s nearly the end of my first semester here and I haven’t written anything since, well, last year.

This week I’ll keep it simple and less hostile. It will just be about the different ways I have experienced new years depending on whether I’m with my German or Thai family.

In all honesty, I haven’t celebrated new years here in Germany since I was 5, but I always remembered it being spectacular. For dinner we would always have raclette. Simple, yet delicious. But it would not overpower what was to come.

I remember always leaving the house just before midnight to go stand on the hill nearby for a better view. It didn’t matter to me that I was standing in the cold as I knew what would come next would make that all seem irrelevant. Families from all over town would stand nearby, counting down ’til the new year.

Then the first firework went off just above our heads. The colors and lights were absolutely astounding. While adults were cheering to themselves with glasses of champagne, children just stood in awe of what was going on above them. By the time it was over and everyone was on their way home, I always felt a sense of satisfaction, all because of a great amount of explosion.

In Thailand we celebrated completely differently. What to locals is known as Songkran, the tourists and foreigners knew as a nationwide, 3 day water fight. Now this is only made possible because it is celebrated in the middle of April.

Back when I lived in Thailand, I lived in a city called Chiang Mai. It had the perfect design for such a celebration. The entire city was encompassed by a moat. Millions of people from all corners of the world would travel to Thailand just to experience this grand spectacle of a tradition. While most of them walked around with little plastic buckets on strings to scoop up water from the moat, many sat in the backs of pick up trucks with water tanks filled with ice water. Everyone walked around either soaking or being soaked by others.

There was never a single person that didn’t seem to enjoy themselves. Hundreds of people would wish you a happy new year. Complete strangers would give you the warmest of smiles despite being soaked to the skin with ice water. It was amazing to see how happy people could be, and all for the same reason. The colors, the happiness radiating off of everyone, the perfectly timed sun, while not as spectacular as new years in Germany, it was just as beautiful in its own way.

Advertisements

I have a new topic to write for this week, but since I have already written more to my story I wanted to post that instead. Go read it here 🙂

So, I don’t have anything to write about TCKs this week, but I did write the beginning of a story. Anyone feel like helping me out with a title for that?

You can go read it here.

Welcome to another week of learning about me!

In all honesty, I’m running out of things to say that have to do with TCKs.

So I’ll talk about a video I recently watched about things you don’t say to a mixed race kid. They’re pretty similar in that they have more than one culture following them wherever they go.

The video, which I assume can be found on Youtube, is called “16 things you should never say to mixed race people”. It’s less than a minute long but it certainly points out some annoyances we have to deal with. (I say ‘we’ because I fit into the category).

The first one which really struck me was “your English is so good”. I know my English is good. What’s the point in telling me? I grew up with 2 languages in the house, I live in the 21st century, I was bound to learn English at some point. Then they choose to point out that I’m not from an English speaking country, which should define how well I speak a language. No. It’s called education.

The second one is “but you don’t look Asian”. Was I supposed to look Asian? Sure I’m half, but that doesn’t mean I must look more like my mother than my father. What if my genes decided that I don’t take after my mother at all and I look like your average German?

Last of all, since this might get too long, “are you sure that’s where you’re from?” Of course, this only counts for all the times that I decided to make friends online. Apparently nobody believes you online. Strange. Anyway, even before they asked me where I’m from they already have this fixed idea of where I could be from. If I tell them that I’m half Asian and half European they disregard that saying that’s impossible to be from two places at once, and decide for me that I’m a white girl trying to be Asian.

People, think about what you say to others. They may or may not be mixed race. Either way you could end up offending them. You don’t want to be seen as racist now, do you?

Just as last week I was struggling this week with what to write about. I was brainstorming some stories about myself that I could possibly write about. Then I thought, why not something about my parents? They’re not TCKs. I guess they fit more into the expat category, but they’ve travelled more than I have, and it’s quite an interesting story.

My dad’s certainly is.

As a child my dad never really left his hometown. Up until he was 18 he had lived in one small town his entire life, only leaving on family trips which amounted to about 2 weeks a year. Italy was the only highlight out of his dull, monoculture childhood.

Once he was out of the house all he did was move a couple hours away to attend university. The next 4 years basically consisted of travelling back home for the holidays, spending his days in his apartment, or finding himself in a new town a couple hours’ train ride away after a drunken night out.

But then it all changed. He finally had a job. Not just any job. He was being sent to Bhutan. Of course, having studied cartography he was one of the only people at the time to know where it was (a small country between India and Nepal, in case you’re wondering). The next 5 years he lived there, surrounded by the only 20 foreigners living in the entire country in the 80s. And that’s where he met my mother.

It is quite uncommon for a Thai woman to marry a foreigner she hasn’t met in Thailand. Regardless, they fell in love and got married. For the next 25 years they have moved from country to country, making a life for themselves.

By the time I was old enough to realize what was happening, my father had moved from Germany to Vietnam to Thailand, Burma, Pakistan, Philippines, and Nigeria. Once I moved out of the house he moved to Sudan, living there by himself. A few years later he moved to Uganda with my mother, and then back to Sudan. He still lives there, and I wonder where he’ll end up next.

So I was having some trouble thinking of what I could write this week relating to being a third culture kid. I was having a Skype session with my old roommate back in Thailand and we started discussing homework and projects we had due in the next few weeks. I told her that I had to write a blog about being a TCK. So she told me to just document the conversation we were having.

She was on to something, but now I’ve made it mine!

This is her story up until today’s Skype session. That I know of.

She’s half American and half Thai. Her case is different from mine because she’s lived in Thailand her entire life. But almost every year since she was little she’s gone to the US to visit her extended family there. Her English is flawless as well as her Thai (which I can’t say for myself). She grew up with other multilingual children and she went to international schools exclusively. She never did much travelling save for the annual trip to the States, up until a few years ago when her mother remarried in Sweden. It’s sad to say she wasn’t able to attend the actual wedding, but now instead of going to see her grandmother in the US she goes to visit her mother and step-father in Sweden during Christmas.

Back in 2011 she graduated from high school and decided she did not want to be anywhere near her grandmother and moved to Italy to continue her studies. She lived there for a while, absorbing some Italian culture as well as the language and moved back to Thailand for personal reasons. At that time we both decided we should go to the same university which, luckily, wasn’t too far away from our respective families. That was when we became roommates. After a year of living together I moved to Germany and she is still living in Thailand, but after the conversation we had today she told me she was considering moving back to the States. I understand where that’s coming from, but it has nothing to do with being a TCK.

So to sum up, our Skype session consisted of two TCKs talking about moving to other countries.

You savvy?

Now this week we go for the disadvantages of being a Third Culture Kid.

I know last week I could have mentioned a few more things, but that would have just made the post much too long. This week I’ll do the same with the cons.

I mean, sure it’s great being a third culture kid, but it has its moments where you wish you could just give that all up for something different. Most people would give up living in one place and what they’ve known their whole life for what us TCKs have. But here are a few reasons why that wouldn’t be such a great idea.

You have no roots. If you have read my personal story you would know that I don’t have a permanent home. I don’t have anywhere that I can go back to and feel like I belong. Because of this, I don’t have any childhood friends, either. Most everyone I know can think of one or two people they still keep in touch with from when they were in kindergarten. Personally, I can barely remember their names, let alone their faces. All my friends I’ve only made recently or once I discovered the internet. And none of them I’ve known since before the age of 8.

People treat you differently. Actually, I’m not entirely sure if this goes for all TCKs or only the ones that have lived in countries with a slightly racist society. It wasn’t extreme or anything, but my self-esteem did suffer for it. Not only am I multinational, but I’m also multiracial. I look neither Asian nor Caucasian. So growing up in Asia really did cause some trouble. I tanned a lot easier than my more fair skinned companions (that goes for Asians as well), so I was always told I was ugly because of my darker skin. In Europe I was appreciated for having darker skin. It’s an infinite game of tug-of-war with my self-esteem because there is no way I can just renounce one of my races.

Same as in the last post, that last part didn’t really make much sense. I’m sorry, I just write these when it’s really late and I get quite tired.

I should write these earlier…