You know you’re a TCK when…

You know you're a TCK when...On Mother’s Day, I posted “You know you’re an expat mom when…“, which was inspired by the brilliant list below. It and others like it have been making the Internet rounds for ages, and I wish I knew who the author is, because I’d love to give credit where it’s due. At the bottom of this post I’ve added a few of the variations I’ve come across — feel free to add your own in the comments section.

You know you’re a TCK when…

  • You can’t answer the question: “Where are you from?”
  • You speak two (or more) languages but can’t spell in any of them.
  • You flew before you could walk.
  • You have a passport, but no driver’s license.
  • You watch National Geographic specials and recognize someone.
  • You run into someone you know at every airport.
  • You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
  • Your life story uses the phrase “Then we went to…” five times (or six, or seven times…).
  • You speak with authority on the quality of airline travel.
  • National Geographic makes you homesick.
  • You read the international section before the comics.
  • You live at school, work in the tropics, and go home for vacation.
  • You don’t know where home is.
  • You sort your friends by continent.
  • Someone brings up the name of a team, and you get the sport wrong.
  • You know there is no such thing as an international language.
  • Your second major is in a foreign language you already speak.
  • You realize it really is a small world, after all.
  • You feel that multiple passports would be appropriate.
  • You watch a movie set in a foreign country, and you know what the nationals are really saying into the camera.
  • Rain on a tile patio – or a corrugated metal roof – is one of the most wonderful sounds in the world.
  • You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.
  • Your wardrobe can only handle two seasons: wet and dry.
  • Your high school memories include those days that school was cancelled due to tear gas, riots, demonstrations, or bomb threats.
  • You go to Taco Bell and have to put five packets of hot sauce on your taco.
  • You have a name in at least two different languages, and it’s not the same one.
  • You think VISA is a document stamped in your passport, and not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
  • You automatically take off your shoes as soon as you get home.
  • Your dorm room/apartment/living room looks a little like a museum with all the “exotic” things you have around.
  • You won’t eat Uncle Ben’s rice because it doesn’t stick together.
  • Half of your phone calls are unintelligible to those around you.
  • You go to Pizza Hut or Wendy’s and you wonder why there’s no chili sauce.
  • You know the geography of the rest of the world, but you don’t know the geography of your own country.
  • You have best friends in 5 different countries.
  • You’re spoiled. You know it. You’re VERY spoiled.

A few more:

  • You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
  • You don’t know whether to write the date as day/month/year, month/day/year, or some variation thereof.
  • You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs.
  • You believe vehemently that football is played with a round, spotted ball.
  • You consider a city 500 miles away “very close.”
  • You cruise the Internet looking for fonts that can support foreign alphabets.
  • You have frequent flyer accounts on multiple airlines.
  • You know how to pack.
  • You have the urge to move to a new country every couple of years.

About Maria

I'm a Canadian repatriate, former expat spouse, mother to two TCKs (and one yellow Lab), mentor to new immigrants, writer, reader, world traveller (grounded for now). I write about expat/repat issues and am still trying to figure out my place in the world.
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22 Responses to You know you’re a TCK when…

  1. What a list. It’s human nature to try to better things but I can’t think of anything I could add. This is probably one of the most poignant ones that grabbed me – “You don’t know where home is”.

  2. Sandy says:

    You know how to flush a toilet with a bucket of water and it doesn’t bother you that you have to do that at school…
    School can be cancelled for lack of water, lack of heat or lack of electricity…or not.
    You know to never go out without a packet of tissue in your wallet.

  3. Ain’t it the truth!
    We must be on the same wavelength today, because I’m writing a post about my son (the TCK)

    • Maria says:

      What a story! It’s so difficult for these kids to feel rooted, and that’s one of the downsides of the TCK experience. Your son has a lot going for him. I hope he finds what he’s looking for, and although I know you’ll never stop worrying about him, I hope you and your husband find peace as well. It’s tough being a parent.

  4. Let me say that husbands do know how to pack also…we just let our wives do the packing because they are more reliable…:)
    Good post!

  5. Ana Gaby says:

    Very cool! I’m raising two TCK and I am looking forward to having them face each of these. I hope my boys are not too spoiled, although my two year old is already very stubborn and know what he wants and how to get it…. including rice for breakfast..

    • Maria says:

      Mine would happily eat rice, but drew the line at congee. Now that they’re busy teenagers, I just want them to eat something — anything — before they run out the door in the morning.

  6. lisa says:

    You watch House Hunters International on HGTV and know the neighbourhoods that they are referring to…in every episode.

  7. globalanni says:

    What a fun list! How about you can change your accent 5 times a day depending on who you are speaking to.

  8. I sense a really great book here. Having just been on my annual trip in Italy, I laughed all the way down the page!

  9. lindainexpatland says:

    Excellent list Maria. I’d add: You know you’re a TCK when the spate of parties at the end of the school year always includes a disproportionate number of farewells rather than simply celebrations, but you learn to treat farewells as celebrations of having known that person.

  10. Pingback: You know you’re a Millenial expat when… « Generation Y Expat (Why not…)

  11. Media Suarez says:

    This is a fun read – I’ve actually created a “You know you’re a Millenial expat when” just then!

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