I find the sense of flying exhilarating, turbulence is like a roller coaster, and airports are an experience within themselves as every airport tries to be unique incorporating a sense of their location’s culture yet autonomous with airports across the world. And then of course there are passports; they are like a key to the global gate, or a memory book filled with coloured stamps and visas.
This is all part of the joys and experiences I have had in travelling, and experiences that most third culture kid’s can relate to.
I love the term third culture kid. You have the culture of your nationality, the culture of the country you’re living in, and a new culture mixed up of the two and the culture of other TCK’s who surround you.
In my words, third culture kid is remembering your own nationality and culture, yet mixing it with the vibrancy and passion of somewhere new.
My culture has been largely influenced on my experiences spent in the Asian cultures of India and Singapore, and the culture of my American friends at the American Schools I attended.
I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving and Holi in the same year; Chinese New Year has always been a favourite and nothing could compare to some of the lavish Proms and the after parties. And then of course there was the food…palak paneer, chicken rice, penang curry, char kway teow, tiger beer, 100 plus…it goes on. While this was all going on, I was still calling myself a kiwi.
I’d come back to the motherland every year where I got to indulge in the Kiwi culture. From heading away to family member’s bach’s, to eating fish and chips on the beach (although I don’t actually like fish and chips), and watching rugby games. (I think I just stereotyped New Zealand then.) But it was all great fun; the mash up of cultures and celebrations I experienced was a thrill.
Having lived back in New Zealand for nearly five years now, I still feel like I’m a third culture kid, however, I’ve started to wonder about my so-called ‘kiwi’ culture.
As Kiwi as I may seem and as my passport tells me, I don’t have a strong tie to the New Zealand culture like someone else my age does who has been in New Zealand for most of his or her life. I spent nearly nine years overseas; in which I went from a child to a teenager and to a young adult; I didn’t grow up with the New Zealand culture on a daily basis.
Now that I’ve been back for a while and adjusted to life that isn’t being an expat, I’ve started wondering what is the New Zealand culture, especially for a New Zealand European or Pakeha. I love New Zealand, I love living here and I pride myself to be a Kiwi. But when I think about it now, I don’t know what New Zealand culture really is. Do we even have one that is identifiable?
It’s funny, as in my last year at university I got into a sticky situation in a tutorial regarding culture and my opinion of New Zealand culture. I may have been naïve in not knowing certain aspects of the local and Maori culture and the culture that I supposedly call “home,” due to not receiving a New Zealand education (tutor was aware of this, but still took a dig at me). But it did make me to think that there is a distinctive lack of culture for the New Zealand Europeans.
Maybe it’s time I did some research. Until then, I’m still a third culture kid with an obsessive love for Asia.