Having lived in The Netherlands for all my life, I was the clear exception during the introduction. It was immediately apparent how diverse this group was, with people coming from Serbia, India, England, Nigeria, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Turkey, Zwolle, Russia, etcetera. You can almost hear the globe spin. This is globalisation at its finest, because most people didn’t identify themselves with just one national identity.
In his performance Third Culture Kid Joseph Simon introduces himself with all his names. French, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese. Lots of languages are represented. He’s not the only one to have lived all over the world with all these cultures influencing not only his name, but his whole identity. A conversation between different internationals, cosmopolitans and whatever-identity-they-give-themselves was held last Monday night. The Third Culture Kid discussion was a nice informal conversation, with a lot of personal stories being shared.
The term ’third culture kid’ applies to a lot of these people. The term means that because you have lived in different countries and have been influenced by many cultures by for example your parents, it is no longer clear to which culture or country you belong.
Some of the attendants came from one specific country and grew up in one specific culture, like Ray coming from Luxembourg and Nikky coming from Hungary. However, they choose to not identify themselves as ‘Luxembourger’ or ‘Hungarian’, simply because they feel at home in different countries around the world. That is why the phrase “Home is where the heart is”, or like participant Ivana says, “the hearts of the people you love”, is so true for most of these young travellers.
In love with an international
Most of the people in the discussion agree that having international relationships is not that hard, except for the language barrier. It can either be a blessing or a curse to not be able to speak in your mother tongue with your lover. Sometimes it makes expressing yourself harder, but for others it makes things more clear. Some languages or cultures use so many metaphors, that it becomes almost impossible to immediately understand what the other person is saying. English isn’t that kind of language.
Having international relationships is probably more difficult for the involved families than for the lovers themselves. How do you explain to your mother that this is your boyfriend’s ‘best shirt’ and that he is not disrespecting her with it? Deba explains that even coming from different parts of India can cause these kind of problems. Apparently, you don’t have to travel around the world to experience these kinds of cultural differences.
While having so many different backgrounds, everyone agreed that living abroad and having to combine different cultures offers you many new opportunities and possibilities. Mostly because you are disconnected from the traditions and values that were laid upon you while growing up in the identity your parents gave you. You get to know different values and when you like them, you can choose to make them your own. Also, according to Wémi, it gives you the opportunity to try different kinds of food. Although everyone agreed that Dutch food is kind of boring. I can’t blame them, but we have to make an exception for the ‘stroopwafels’ of course.
Choose your battles