Archive for the ‘Global Nomad/TCK’ Category

Someday I’ll Go Back to Egypt

1 October 07

Sunset at Pyramids
Found on Flickr by kevin on the road

Isn’t that gorgeous?

I’ve been to Egypt twice, once with my parents and family friends and once with a school group. One of the perks of international schools is when it comes time for competition with other schools, you get to go to other countries. The American School of Kuwait, ASK, my illustrious alma mater, was in the EMAC region – Eastern Mediterranean Activities Conference. So our sports teams and drama group and debate team and choir would travel to Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, UAE, etc. to compete. Very cool.

I wasn’t sporty… let me rephrase that – my clumsy, uncoordinated self couldn’t dribble a basketball or hit a volleyball to save my life – so obviously I wasn’t on any of the sports teams. (Despite an embarrassing attempt to be a cheerleader – what was I thinking? There is not a bubbly bone in my body!) But I did enjoy the art scene. I participated in drama and choir and due to some creative finagling by my art history teacher, I got to go to Cairo as part of the EMAC fine arts festival in the area of art. (Evidently, being a part of the art history class didn’t actually qualify as “art” class, a requirement for participation.) I almost went to Cairo earlier in the year to take part in a yearbook workshop, but due to some pesky terrorist attacks, the school decided it was better if we didn’t go.

That art history class, by the way, was the best class EVER. Nothing could top it, not even Infectious Disease 101.

Ever since those trips to Egypt, I’ve had the travel bug in the worst way. No, not an actual travel bug, like Dengue or Malaria (Dengue epidemic in Latin America & Caribbean – have you heard?), just the need to see the world – especially the developing world. My interest in Egypt has also never waned. There was just something about it – the sand, the amazing mosques, the Khan Al Khalili bazaar, the culture, even the crazy traffic. And, as you can see in the photo above, it is all breathtaking.

I was inspired to write these things after reading on Global Voices about a Canadian woman living and blogging in Egypt, Maryanne Stroud Gabbani. On her blog I read a post about an art center in the countryside outside of Cairo. It is a place where city kids can come and relax and play and make art. I wanna go.

Am I a Wheniwuzzer?

7 June 07

“WhenIWuzzer…” A very annoying type person who has traveled extensively and lived all across the globe. In conversation, this person will frequently wax poetic and long about places they’ve been. They are all too often excited to share experiences they’ve had “when I was in Kathmandu…” or “Well, when I was in Madagascar…” Their neighbors, friends and co-workers all eye roll and yawn as if on cue when a wheniwuzzer starts to reminisce.

Eee-gad. Do I do that? It really is my worst fear – that I’ll be that annoying someday.

Seriously, though, this is a really big problem for expats. When so many of our day-to-day, normal life activities take place in random and foreign places, most of our stories will somehow relate to the fact, that we were in Thailand or we were in Panama or we were in Zambia. Really!

Of course, the very best is to get two expats together – that is when the love-fest that is sharing expatriate experiences can really take place. Two expats, especially two TCKs, will gladly trade wheniwuzzer tales. There is no greater joy than finding someone who will willingly and happily listen to your stories. And if they have actually been to that little back alley food stall in Kuala Lumpur – pure gold!

So, I should say thanks to everyone who reads this blog and listens to my stories. Lemme know if I ever get too wheniwuzzer…

I Love, Love, Love This!

30 October 06

You must go to this website and watch this video. I wish I had thought of this.

Where the hell is Matt? He is dancing. Across the world.

Seriously, happy dancing Matt made me smile. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Global Voices – Are You Listening?

26 October 06

Because I’m a blogger and because right now I have the time, I read a TON of blogs. It actually becomes somewhat addictive!

Anyway, my new favorite website is an aggregator of blogs from all over the world.

Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

Global Voices is an ambitious little project started by the Berkmen Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. They envisioned it as a global review of what local bloggers are experiencing in their countries or regions. It is meant to be an alternative to traditional media, which often ignores pretty much the whole world except Iraq and North Korea.

If you have some time on your hands and you are wondering what bloggers are saying in Zambia Nigeria or Tahiti Indonesia, this is the website for you!

Reverse Culture Shock

29 September 06

Anyone who has travelled away from their homeland has probably felt the effects of culture shock – you know, the weird feeling you get when you realize that you are no longer in Kansas. This is inevitable. For an American, culture shock shows up in funny ways – like noticing that no one outside of America uses round doorknobs or the giant spoon in the silverware set is what you use for soup. Or getting used to dinner time at 10PM instead of 7 or remembering that everything closes between 2 and 5 and most everything closes on Sunday. Or having your weekend on Thursday and Friday instead of Saturday and Sunday. Or turning on the TV and noticing that not everyone has 357 channels.

China produced a great deal of culture shock, because the way of life and the way of thinking is soooo different from the West. I’ve given you examples, like the driving.

Now that I am back in the West, I am experiencing something called Reverse Culture Shock. That is the feeling you get when you return to your homeland and you are surprised by things all over again. For example, when I returned to the US after living in Costa Rica, I was astonished by all the new cars on the road and the fact that most restaurants were not open to the street (they have doors and windows).

So what am I surprised by in Spain? First, the realization that I can actually communicate with people around me. Even if my Spanish isn’t perfect, it sure beats my Mandarin! I catch myself walking around a store completely ignoring the salestaff, because I think I can’t talk to them. Then, when they ask me if I need help and I can understand, it just boggles my mind!

Another thing is the absolute absence of chopsticks. I got so used to using them, that I feel like a Neanderthal with my savage fork, spearing my food. And whenever I see a Chinese person, which to be honest is daily, since there are a lot of Chinese immigrants in Spain, I want to say Ni Hao! even if they were born in Spain and speak better spanish than I do. Speaking of shopping, it is a bit astonishing to me that I can just walk right into a clothing shop and they will have my size! And noone will giggle about it! And just where are all the bicycles??

Getting to know new cultures is one of the things that I like best about travel. Getting to know your own culture all over again is one of the interesting side effects of travel.

Being a Global Nomad or a TCK

31 July 05

What is a TCK? A third culture kid

According to TCK World:

A TCK is an individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than that of their parents, develops a sense of relationship to both. These children of business executives, soldiers and sailors, diplomats, and missionaries, who live abroad, become “culture-blended” persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole.

The individual blend will vary, depending on such factors as the intensity of exposure to a second or third culture, at what age a child comes into contact with a culture other than that of the parents, and the amount of time a young person spends within a second or third culture. The TCK’s roots are not embedded in a place, but in people, with a sense of belonging growing out of relationships to others of similar experience.

Because of frequent changes in geographic locations, a TCK tends to be a very independent person, often a loner. That self-reliance can be turned into an asset as the young person matures, contributing to the TCK’s ability to make decisions and to exercise leadership. However, self-reliance is but one step away from isolation. If a TCK does not need or trust anyone, he or she cannot function in society in a healthy way.

A TCK can never change back into a monocultural person. Parents of TCKs can return “home” to their country of origin, but the children, enriched by having shared life in their formative years with another people, will find characteristics of both cultures in their very being. Acceptance of this fact frees TCKs to be uniquely themselves. In fact, TCKs have tools to be the cultural brokers of the future.

I strongly believe that my experiences as a TCK – both within the US and abroad – are directly responsible for my inability to stay in one place longer than 3 years. I actually love this about myself. As much as I would love to have roots and life-long friends and actually know my third cousin’s names, I much prefer being a citizen of the world.

Although sometimes the idea of roots is nice. I have to admit that I am terribly jealous of DH’s incredible childhood friendships that have managed to last, in a meaningful way, over 30 years.

I prefer the term Global Nomad, because it sounds more fun and adventurous than the technical TCK.