TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) at our school

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Some students at our school give a testimony of their experience as TCK’s (Third Culture Kids). Thank you all for sharing how you feel!

Teacher: Ana Cristina Alvarenga

Carolina Paiva, 11th D

Being a Third Culture Kid has definitely been quite the journey.

Due to private family matters I moved around a lot and growing up in different countries exposed me to a diverse range of cultures. It meant that I started adapting to new environments, languages, and other things regularly and very easily. Due to this, I can say that I grew to be open-minded and have quite an adaptable attitude, but it also made me feel confused.

I remember living in England since forever, and I never thought that it would be any different. And even though I had a bit of a sense of belonging to both English and Portuguese culture I also felt like I just didn’t fully belong to either. When I was in England I was seen as the “Portuguese girl” and once I arrived in my birth country I was seen as “too British”. It became harder for me to find my true identity and not just rely on others and copy others just in order to fit in.

I would normally get asked “Where are you from?” and I would never know what to say, it felt like my mind would just go blank. I knew the stereotypes that would come along with it, and they would all just express the same things. But once I came to Portugal everything just got even more confusing. I felt like an outsider in my own country, the country I was born in.

Sarah Vieira, 11th D

Third Culture Kids are the children that are living in a different country from their parents’. As I’m one of them, I want to show how I feel living in a country other than my native one.

My name is Sarah, I’m 16 years old and I’m from Brazil. Because of my parents’ work, I had to move to Lisbon, Portugal, on June 13th of 2022. In the beginning it was quite difficult to adapt to a new culture and values. Even with the same language, it was quite challenging because of the new expressions and words that I had to learn, but at the same time it was funny.

Moving to another country is always challenging. And before I moved here, I thought that making friends and adapting to a new life would be a problem. However, it was easier and good. Of course, it always depends on the country that you are moving into and the people of the place.

Although I was worried in the beginning, after living here for some time, I’ve learned to like it because I could experience a new culture and try new foods. Besides that, when I went back to Brazil, on my holidays, it wasn’t the same. I mean, I just didn’t feel that there was my home, and sometimes neither here I’m feeling at home.

Giuliana Duarte, 11th D

Being a Third Culture Kid is a very challenging experience. Moving to a place with another culture without your friends and family first may seem sad and lonely, but having the chance to learn new things and to know new people encouraged me and cheered me up.

It’s been a while since I moved to Portugal and, so far, I’ve felt a lot of different feelings and I’ve also learned a lot of things. I know that I will probably never feel like this is my true home since in Brazil I feel like I truly belong, but nothing stops me from having good times and new opportunities in life, despite the difficulties.

Elisangela Stoyanova, 11th F

As a Third Culture Kid you may go through both negative and positive emotions and experiences. Of course, how we deal with all that depends on the person her/himself. For example, I don’t like changing from place to place or even different countries. It’s very hard for me to let go of a place especially if I have stayed there for a longer period of time or made friends and got used to just being there. But it’s also confusing because I don’t exactly dislike travelling and experiencing new things.

One of the positive qualities I may have developed is quick adaptability and open-mindedness, especially with people.

Whenever I meet new people, I always get along with them most of the time and can also learn lots of things from that person like language, their culture or habits. Something very useful is how quickly a TCK can learn new languages or read people’s behaviours. Thanks to meeting all different kinds of people, you can learn about who to trust, who has good intentions and who doesn’t or even understand their body language, which are things I think a TCK gets from everyday life experiences and from so much change.

The most negative part of being a TCK in my opinion is finding yourself or struggling with your own identity, feeling like you don’t fully belong anywhere. For example, I have three nationalities- Bulgarian, Portuguese and Angolan, but if I live in Bulgaria people don’t see me as Bulgarian but as Angolan or Portuguese or if I live in Portugal, I am either Bulgarian or Angolan. So, I will never fully be able to fit in anywhere. Another unpleasant side of constant change are the farewells to friends and places that can lead to a sense of loss or that something is missing in your life. As I said previously making friends and having to say your goodbyes is something very difficult which nobody wants to go through: having in mind you won’t be able to see those with whom you have established a certain relationship for a long time. The same goes for when you are used to living in a house and frequently visiting the places you most like in a country or city and then you travel to a foreign place where you aren’t familiar with anything. And the third thing TCKs sometimes may have to deal with is Reverse Culture Shock which is when you go back to your home country, and you can’t see yourself fitting in with the people there or the fact that everything seems so different and unfamiliar from before.

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