Dr. Ruth Useem spent a great deal of time researching the effects that third culture kid experiences has on them as adults. You can find out more about her in my previous post! In one of her research studies, she collected 700 questionnaires from adult TCKs http://www.tckworld.com/useem/art2.html. In this sample of adults, “82 percent lived abroad both as pre-teens and teenagers” (Useem & Cottrell, 1999). They found that in the majority of families, the primary employee was the father.
They also found that 81% of adult TCKs had a Bachelors degree. Useem and Cottrell also found that a great number of these adult TCKs had changed majors two to three times at university. Some dropped out of university to take up an opportunity that arose. They go on to discuss how adult Third Culture Kids never fully adjust, instead they adapt to the new community or find niches to settle into. From the answers they collected, they learned that we as TCKs do not want to be encapsulated.
I found the following quote they used to describe adult third culture kids so accurate: “Their camouflaged exteriors and understated ways of presenting themselves hide the rich inner lives, remarkable talents, and often strongly held contradictory opinions on the world at large and the world at hand”. I think this is so true. We have had to adapt so much that we can mold quite quickly into the setting or group of people we are with. However, this can also cover up a great number of aspects of our personality, thoughts, and opinions. Is it perhaps true then that we can only show our fullest and most complete self with our family and perhaps others like us?