[Definition of TCK (Third Culture Kid): A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.]
For the past few years, I saw a lot of posts on the internet that equate a TCK to getting on lots of airplanes and travelling tons.
And I could never relate to this because I am a TCK from birth and have not been on airplanes nor travelled much until I graduated from college. (Uncivilized TCK in the house!) For me, being a TCK has been mainly about culture. It means I mixed up the different cultures I was exposed to and formed my own culture.
[Proof of my TCK-ness: I was born to Korean parents who lived in Argentina, who moved to Paraguay when I was six, and I attended a mixture of local, Korean, and American churches, as well as local and American schools. Thus, I am currently a mix of Korean, Argentinean, Paraguayan, and American cultures all mixed into this little Asian body.]
So when I see articles like the ones below, I add a few words to the title as I read it:
“For Third Culture Kids with Parents of Higher Income who Travel a Lot by Airplane, Travel is Home”.
On this next website, #11 assumes all TCKs have a lot of airport and airlines experiences. Nope. Not true of me.
I could find many more articles on TCKs, and lots (if not most) will have something about airplanes, passports, and constant country-hopping. All of which do not apply to me.
I guess this means there are different kinds of TCKs, and that the vast majority can identify with the whole passport/airport travelling experiences. So even amongst the TCKs, am I a minority?! Maybe the less-travelled TCKs are not getting as much of a voice on the internet as the “higher end” ones?
For us, as a working-class immigrant family, traveling was only done to go to Argentina on summer break to visit relatives. And we didn’t travel by airplane. We went on an 18-hour bus ride (20 hours if the border was crowded) to Argentina. That one time we went to Argentina by airplane (a meager 2-hour flight) because for some reason bus prices and airplane tickets were the same price, we took a bunch of pictures to commemorate that. I still remember the thrill of that one time I got to be on the plane. I must have been about 9 years old. The next time I travelled by airplane was when I turned 19.
Also, the whole thing with the passport stamps. I didn’t even have a passport until I was 19 (because Argentina and Paraguay are part of the Mercosur, you don’t need a passport to travel between these two countries).
Lastly, there was no country-hopping for me as I grew up. I lived six years in Argentina, and then the next thirteen years in Paraguay. I don’t feel the itch to move to a new country every five seconds. This might be what some TCKs feel like, but not all! I quite liked living in South America, thank you very much.
So here is to the TCKs who have never travelled, travelled very little, are yet to travel, or don’t like to travel! To those who don’t know what a traveling bug or itch is! To those who didn’t have diplomatic, military, professional, missionary parents, but had immigrant parents with a lower income! To those who might have travelled a bit, but not by airplane (and instead travelled by horse, camel, bus, boat, ferry, railroad)! To the refugee TCKs, to the undocumented TCKs, the immigrant TCKs, and whatever TCK I missed mentioning, you are still a hipster, cool TCK!
(This post is to be read not too 진지하게 [a.k.a. not too seriously]. I’m not trying to define or undefine anything. I just found it funny how all the TCK posts that were popping up on my Facebook feed included that airplane statement, and I just wanted to give my own statement about that statement, if you know what I mean. )