So I’m sure there are plenty of challenges we all face as third culture kids. And I guess that everyone will have very different opinions as to what the most frustrating and exhausting challenges are. Here is my first challenge as a TCK. I’ve also realized while writing about this challenge that there would be ways to tackle it!
One of the challenges I face as a TCK arises when I am out with a group of people who are from one country. So for example, here in London, when I go out with a group of mainly English people. I often find that some of the references that are brought up are completely unknown to me. They’ll be chatting about a band that’s coming to London, and I don’t know the name of the band. Or it could simply be a festival that’s happening in the summer, and I’m not sure the one they’re referring to. Sometimes it’s a politician that has done something outrageous in the past, usually some years before I moved to London, and I look at them with a blank stare. It’s annoying, not knowing these bits and pieces of the culture. And it also means that I can sometimes feel like I am not really a part of the conversation. The problem is though that by not knowing these things, these kinds of activities and gatherings can come across as boring. And actually it may simply be a lack of knowledge and awareness on my part.
So I’ve realized that it’s not that they’re boring, it’s that I need to make an effort to really start incorporating this kind of information into my ‘daily feed’. So, for example, up until now, I had a subscription to the Economist and I watched BBC Breakfast in the morning. I’d sometimes buy the International Herald Tribune on the weekends. Well, the BBC breakfast is good as it gives me a brief of picture of what’s happening in the UK and London specifically. However, although the Economist is great at giving an overall picture of different regions in the world: the politics, economics and business-related news around the world. It does not focus solely on the British political news or British business. Also, instead of reading the Metro newspaper in the morning like I used to, I’ve been reading the Economist on the train. The benefit of reading those free newspapers and magazines like ‘Metro’, ‘The Evening Standard’, ‘The City AM’, ‘ES’, ‘Stylist’ is that you have a better understanding of what’s going on in London and in the UK specifically. By reading the local paper rather than global papers, you will know when festivals are coming up. You’ll have an idea of the stand up comedians going big in the UK. You will find out about that outrageous event surrounding that politician in London.
I think as Third Culture Kids we still want to know what happens in the countries we’ve lived in or just have an overall picture rather than a narrow view on one city or country. However, I think that by focusing our awareness on the city and country we live in, it can only help us integrate more fully into the culture we currently live in. On top of that, we can choose to get ‘The Observer’, ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Daily Mail’, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ and surely after some time, like anything else, we will be much more familiar with what’s ‘big’ in one city and country rather than a brief overall picture of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I still think being aware of what’s going on in the world is essential, but I do think it’s time I make more of an effort to know the music, art, comedy, business, politics, and everything else that goes along with it in the UK. I think I’ll struggle giving up my subscription to the Economist, but I think from now on, I will be picking up ‘The Observer’ mid-week and reading ‘City AM’ and ‘The Evening Standard’ on the overground.
More challenges to come… Until then, what do you think? Do you take the time to really fully understand the city and country you live in? What about the history of the country you live in?