Confessions of a Third Culture Kid + A Book Giveaway

Update on 11.4.2014: The winner of the book giveaway, according to, is #10: Karen. Congratulations, Karen! I’ll email you to get your address. Thank you for all your wonderful, insightful, and beautiful comments, everyone!



On the L: With my siblings and dad at the pyramids circa 1996. I’m the one with the unfortunate bangs on the far left.
On the R: Back at the pyramids with Elliott and Lena (!) in 2010.

A recent Monday morning. Six women sat around a table, plates filled with food, ready to talk.

“Let’s get to know each other a little better by sharing about the cities we’ve lived in,” my new core group leader suggested, shifting the baby in her arms as she surveyed our small group. “Might but a fun way to tell our life stories. I’ll start…”

In my seat next to her, I tensed inwardly. I felt my otherness, my weirdness, slipping back over me. I had dressed like the others, talked like the others; I fit in, they thought. I looked the part. I looked like a nice, average American girl, just like everyone else in the group.

But that’s just part of my story. It’s only the last eight years of my life story, actually. The eight years that involve living in America, going to an American school, marrying a semi-American boy, and having two cute and semi-American children.

The 19 years before the last eight were what had me sweating.

I didn’t grow up in the States. I was born in Egypt and lived in Australia, Singapore, Pakistan, Singapore again, India, and Brazil all before I started college. It was a different life, a life studded with foods and holidays and cultures and languages that I can taste on my tongue, see in my memory, and long for without warning.

As I waited for my turn to share my life story last week, I remembered a book I was reading at home called Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging. The author, blogger Marilyn Gardner, is a friend of mine, and recently I had agreed to read and review her book. However, I had no idea how relevant the book would be to me. Marilyn also grew up overseas; she spent her childhood in Pakistan and her adulthood between Egypt, Pakistan, and the States. (Sound like someone you know?!)


With my dad when he graduated from the American University of Cairo in 1987.

In her book, Marilyn writes with poignant understanding about third culture kids: children who spent most of their childhoods outside their passport country. Her observations and anecdotes flooded me with memories, sometimes bringing me to tears, sometimes leaving me running to Elliott, saying, “Listen to this! I have felt this way and it’s so true!”

Here’s one of my favorite quotes (which perfectly captured how I felt that Monday as I prepared — again — to share my “third culture kid” childhood):

As a child raised between worlds… I was neither of one world nor the other; I occupied a culture between…. In this other world called the United States, the blue passport bearing my picture and various stamps told me, told the world, that I belonged. That I was a citizen. But I never felt like I belonged in this other world. At any given time I was less or more comfortable, but I always felt like a bit of a fake. I didn’t know how to buy clothes. I didn’t know how to dress for winter. I didn’t know the idioms, the slang that was so important at that age. I had no clue about pop culture. I was trying to fake it, trying to fit, but at heart an imposter.

I got it. I knew how the author felt. Especially in college, fresh from a childhood overseas, I struggled daily just to fit in. I worked so hard. What did the other students wear? What did they do in their free time? Where did they live? What did I need to do to fit in? I transformed my wardrobe, made friends, joined organizations, moved out of my far-away dorm into the center of student life. Packed my life full just to fit in, to lose my otherness, to stop feeling so awkward, so left out. So lonely.

I just wanted to belong.


My first smile on a bus in Cairo. I have a  feeling I will look exactly like this when I am 92 years old, plus wrinkles and including chub.

I’ve spent the last few years synthesizing my childhood and my future, trying to blend them into a cohesive whole. Elliott — my multifaceted, amazing husband and best friend — has enabled me to do this. To embrace our American-ness and combine it with a life overseas.

Marilyn’s book, though, brought back wave upon wave of memories. I remembered afresh the delight of living in another culture, of assimilating new and old, of learning to navigate a foreign land with ease and awareness. I remembered how my heart sings as I stride through international terminals, as I hand over my passport, as I find my seat on a plane, as I feel the dip and the lift as the plane climbs into the air. I remembered the deep pain of leaving a country behind forever, of re-entering the States, of reverse culture shock, and of feeling achingly far from home. Marilyn’s words, memories, and stories brought it all back.

Some passages in her book felt like I could have written them myself:

The day my passport expired and I realized there was no upcoming reason to renew it, I felt as if I had been robbed of my identity.

My passport was my grown-up teddy bear. [When it expired], I made up my mind that no matter what, I would not let my passport expire again. While I knew that my identity was far more than a document that had expired, the symbol represented too much of my life — people I loved, places I had been and pivotal events that shaped who I had become — to let go.

I am an invisible immigrant….. I can adapt a chocolate chip cookie recipe to taste good without brown sugar or chocolate chips. I can decode idioms in Arabic or Urdu. I am completely comfortable in crowded bazaars or navigating any major airport in the world. I can make an orange-cranberry salad without the cranberries…. And I understand the importance of identifying friends with commissary privileges and make sure they are invited to dinner so that next time I see them there will be cranberries for my orange-cranberry salad.

(All throughout my childhood I loved being friends with kids who had commissary privileges and could buy cranberry sauce and Blue Bunny ice cream and chocolate chips. And then in Italy I became the friend with commissary privileges… and it was glorious.)

Third culture kid envy… It is what I feel when my feet are trapped on the ground for too long while I watch others travel. It is what I feel when I hear others, sometimes worthy and sometimes not, talk about Pakistan or Egypt, my beloved places. It is what I taste when I hear that someone is going on a long trip, leaving from the international terminal just minutes from my house. It reaches crisis stage when I find out someone is moving overseas. And I so long and need to overcome this syndrome, but there are times when I think that it is impossible.

(Yes, it’s true. I’m not proud, but such envy has consumed me, especially since we moved back to the States this summer.)

What happens when the third culture kid becomes an adult and settles in their passport country? For a time everything seems backwards and contrary. Few of us had the dreams of owning our own homes, or becoming “successful” as defined by middle-class America. Our parents had lived counter-culture and had passed that on to us. Nothing really prepared us for a life in suburbs or small towns of the Western hemisphere.

Perhaps our unspoken fear is that if we learn to sing songs of joy in this new place, this new land, then we will forget the old, we will lose our identity, all that we know, all that is familiar. As one person put it: “I wanted to preserve my identity, to hold dear the soil in which my roots are settled, to Never Forget Who I Am. After all — my identity has come at such a high cost.

This past Monday, when my turn came to share my life story, I chose to start it in a new way. I chose not to blush, smooth over my strangeness, downplay the different childhood that I’d had. I chose to own it, to share it, to explain it and hold it out and offer it without reservation.

Take me or leave me, here I am.

“I’m a third culture kid,” I said. “I spent most of my life overseas until I started college, and I got back overseas as soon as I could after that. Living overseas is a huge part of my identity, and I want to live as much of my life outside of the U.S. as I can. My story starts in Egypt when my dad was in graduate school…”

May it not be too long (oh please, Lord, don’t let it be too long) before I’m standing in the international terminal of another airport, passport in hand, ready to fly away into the Great, Beautiful World once again.


image via

Would you like to win a copy of Marilyn’s beautiful book? For the third culture kids who read this blog (I know there are many of you!) or for the parents out there who long to raise kids overseas, this book is for you! Marilyn has an autographed copy just waiting to send to you.

Entering to win is easy. Just leave a comment in this post and tell me why you’d like to read this book!

Giveaway closes next Monday, November 3. Happy reading!

P.S. If you haven’t seen this crazy-but-true list yet, it’s guaranteed to put a few smiles and eye rolls on your third culture kid-lovin’ face.

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70 Responses to Confessions of a Third Culture Kid + A Book Giveaway

  1. Jennifer October 28, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I’d love to read this book! It is sooo hard belonging somewhere other than your heartland. I acutely feel it even in Ohio, when my heart belongs in Oregon. Being proud & loving where you came from only seems to alienate you further from the locals.

    • Dawn Purver November 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

      Hello – I am the mother of 4 TCKs currently living and working in Albania; I would love to have a copy of Marilyn’s book. Why? Well firstly as a mum I still have so much to learn about my own TCKs depite my eldest being 20! Secondly, I am a counsellor/therapist and work frequently with TCKs, and/or their parents, helping them with difficult issues that have arisen – this would be a book not just for me to read, but recommend too. Thirdly, I am completing my MSc and focussing on issues relating to cross cultural understanding, and how to be more empathic and effective as a therapist working internationally.
      I very much enjoyed your blog.

  2. Micah October 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I’m American; my husband is English. We’re preparing to move to Scotland (then Europe) with our three children who are under 5 years of age. We know they will probably not live in the States again until it’s time for them to decide, and we also know they may never live in England (even though they will have passports for those countries). So we’ve been prayerfully considering their futures for sometime as their upbringing will be uniquely their own. Needless to say, I’m trying to collect as many books on raising third culture children as I can. I enjoyed reading your blog this morning; thank you.

  3. Jennifer October 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    As an American missionary who went to school in England and is now raising TCK’s in South Africa, I can relate to so much in this post. I recently watched an American movie and realized that I have become comfortable in South Africa because it made me think abut how hard it would be to go shopping at Walmart and drive on the right side of the road. Then my husband and I talked about how hard it would be to move back to America and talk with “normal” people about “normal” things after the experiences we have had.

    I am really looking forward to reading this book and I wish you the best. I’m so glad that you are embracing your past because it has made you who you are. Blessings to you.

  4. Becca Spellman October 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    Becca, I love this! I found myself relating to both what you wrote and what you shared from Marilyn’s book. with that insatiable itch in my heart to step outside the “comfort” of the US, I often find it difficult to embrace the life I’ve chosen to live here. There are good and beautiful things right in front of my face, but it’s never enough when I’ve tasted what exists beyond these borders. :) Thank you for sharing your heart.

  5. Emily October 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    This book sounds deep and introspective, which this INTJ loves. I always appreciate hearing about experiences so vastly different from my own–it widens my perspective and also helps me appreciate more where I come from.

    Not to be tremendously tacky and promote another author on this post (but I am going to do it), have you come across the Art of Simple Travel and Tsh’s podcast? Their family is doing a trip around the world this year, so the situation is not the same, but there are similarities to be sure.

  6. Mimi October 28, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m another 3rd culture kid. I grew up in SE Asia, and live here again now. I soak up books on the topic, but have not heard of this one! I’d love to have a copy. I’ve already added it to my Amazon wish list.

  7. Amanda October 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    I’m mom to a three year old and recently conceived little bun in the oven… we live in Tanzania and this book would be amazing! I’ve actually got it on my ‘wish list’ on Amazon hoping someone sees it and ships it our way :)
    Great post, and it’s so insightful to see what our little one(s) may face some day. Plus, it seems much of it will be relatable for me too – even though I’m a first generation missionary!
    Looking forward to following your blog!

  8. Leslie October 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    I am a MK that grew up my whole life in Papua New Guinea. I am now in the States going to college and daily learning how my life overseas has shaped who I am and that I am not like everyone else (and that is ok). I have had my eye on this book for a while because I have be intrigued hearing others stories and finding the comfort of others who understand my struggle.
    Thanks for sharing your story and your honesty.

  9. Karen October 28, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

    I always enjoy reading articles shared on A Life Overseas, and this article is no exception. I always identify in some way with whatever article is being shared – whether it connects with my own TCK upbringing or with my kids’ TCKness. We’re back in the States three years now, but my heart longs to be on the move again. And as I watch, through the news and mission reports, as the Home of my Heart is ravaged by the Ebola crisis, my heart’s cry is louder and my heart breaks at the horror. People around me don’t seem to get why this crisis touches me so deeply. So I make noise in my small corner of the world to bring awareness and TRUTH, even if folks get annoyed. :)
    So now I rest in this place where God has placed me, trusting that He will show me when and where He wants me next.
    I would love to be able to read Marilyn’s book. I know I would be able to identify with so much of it, and could pass it on to my nearly grown children, knowing they would identify as well. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Marilyn October 28, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Ah Becca – thank you so much for reading, for reviewing – most of all for ‘getting it’! I felt your tension as you sat at that table with the small group of women. Almost every week I have a similar experience. Just Sunday as we were taking some relatives of a friend to a wedding they looked at me and said “So – where y’all from?” And I answered “Well – right now we live in Cambridge….” So excited to be able to give away a copy and thank you for this review.

  11. Stacie October 28, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    I would love to read this book. I have lived my whole life in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri – with a couple short-term adventures out of the States. I am now heading up the missions ministry at our church, though, and my husband and I are beginning to explore more about what it might mean for us to not stay so comfortable here. I would love to learn more about this topic!

  12. Anita Jordan October 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    I have served as a missionary for the last 23 years and have two tcks, one in college and one leaving for college next year. I would love to read Between Worlds and have my kids read it!

  13. Sarah October 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    As someone with dual citizenship who was born outside the US and didn’t set eyes on that that “home” country til I was 4, I completely understand the stress of those simple get to know you games that involve where we are from or used to live. But I’m still on the journey as I’ve never fully settled down there either–having now been in the Middle East for the past 5 years and other places before that. Someone once commented to me about the TCKs they saw and spoke jealously of their lives and all they’ve seen before they even turned 10. But I spoke up and said, yeah, but they will never have a home. Our home is defined differently and that can be hard sometimes.

    “I remembered the deep pain of leaving a country behind forever, of re-entering the States, of reverse culture shock, and of feeling achingly far from home. ” Amen and amen. It’s a deep pain that you can never fully put to words.

  14. Rucel October 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    As an MK from Mexico in my third year of college in Indiana and ready to graduate I am constantly thinking about my identity and where it could lead me. I am learning to be ok with sharing my whole story instead of just going over the “American years.” I also have tried to synthesize my two cultures while making myself look more American. It is impossible so it is a matter of learning.

  15. Jessica P October 28, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    I’m an American living in the US with a Korean-American husband, raising girls who are very globally minded. We host international guests, and have hosted a number of TCK through internships, applying for college and being an adopted US family to them. I am always learning more about TCK and how we can help them better, this book would be a great resource for us.

  16. Carolyn H. October 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    I left the USA with two preschoolers nine years ago. They are now 11 and 14 and we have lived in five countries in those nine years, which includes two years in the States attempting to be ‘normal’. I read everything I can get my hands on. Knowing someone has traveled the road, having feelings validated, it is food for the soul.

  17. Patty Ovington October 28, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Loved reading this blog! I raised my 5 kids in Mexico and now live in Bolivia with my husband. My children are now starting their families outside of their passport country (USA) Two of my children have married TCK’s so I love reading about it and passing the wonders and the realities of that life on to my children, and grandchildren.
    Thanks for writing this book!

  18. Judy October 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    I was in Pakistan in 1994, working at Bach Christian Hospital. Since then I went on several short-term medical missions trips with my husband Alan. After 15 years and four children, we are finally overseas working at Mercy Medical Center in Cambodia, raising our children as TCKs after 10 years as American suburbanites. What a transition!! We have been there 2 years and are visiting grandparents in the States this month before returning. We still have much to learn, many tears and joys to experience, but are thankful for the opportunity!

  19. Terry October 28, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    I was an MK in Africa. I’ve lived in my passport country for 35 years now, but reading this blog brought back a rush of feelings, thoughts, and emotions that I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I’m looking forward to reading Marilyn’s book to delve deeper and explore some of those thoughts and feelings. Thank you for making this available. I hope to share it with some of my other MK friends.

  20. Holly October 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    My husband and I are currently raising our children in Haiti. We have only lived here for a year and a half, but I already see the impact on them for life. I would love to read this book!

  21. Catherine October 28, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    I would love to read this book as we raise 4 TCK of our own! Would love to get glimpses in how my kids will feel so I can be praying, preparing, and compassionate!

  22. Crystal October 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    Because I’ve been living overseas for a year now and am still floundering in the raising children away from America department!

  23. Sue October 28, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    I am a mother who has lived in Europe for the past 15 years whose children are one-by-one making the transition from life here to life back in America without us. I’ve watched them go through this from afar. Your blog and the quotes from the book really hit home and whet my appetite to read the rest of the book AND especially to share it with my grown children. Thanks for sharing it!

  24. Liz October 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Raising 2 TCKS in Europe and this recent furlough in the States has me feeling like one too!

  25. Effie October 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    The review and the quotes remind me so much of a few comments I’ve heard my daughter make over the last few years. She has lived overseas six years, and three more in Hawaii, which has its own unique culture and experience as well. I remember two years ago, struggling to explain SEC football (“Roll Tide!”)and why it is sooo important to her friends and family back home. I would love to have even more insight into her mindset. Thanks for sharing Becca. I always know, if you read and liked it, I will too.

  26. Jessica October 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Beautifully written post Becca! Though I am not a third culture kid so much of your post rang true to my ears! Growing up in Brazil all of my life but raised by British parents I never quite fit in there. I don’t look Brazilian enough, but it was my language and culture. Then I moved to the US, and everyone expects me to be American (because apparently I look and sound like one), but I didn’t know pop culture references, anything about baseball, football or even how to count american coins! Going to the grocery store the first time was embarrassing as I tried to read what each coin was to get a total, all the while the cashier thought I was just wasting her time. Meanwhile my Colombian friend had the same trouble but everyone was very eager to help him because he was obviously different. I’ve struggled because I look like I should fit in but I just don’t. And now as we’ve settled with life here in NY, I struggle because I want my kids to know there is so much more to the world God created, than upstate NY, there are so many lovely cultures and languages, but how to teach that and have them love it when they will most likely grow up American, with Brazilian passports?

  27. Lisette October 28, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

    I teach MKs, but am not a TCK myself. I would love to read this!

  28. Elise October 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    Growing up as a TCK has given me a unique perspective on life! Recently, I’ve joined the Missionary Care committee at my church. As the designated MK care member, I’ve been reading more and created a FB page for MK parents. This book would be a great additive to my library as I seek to encourage and educate parents about their children and connect with TCKS!

    • Judy Burdett October 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

      Would be interested to know what your site is.

  29. Judy Burdett October 28, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Hi, all so true. I grew up in Papua New Guinea as a Missionary kid, came home when I was 16. I would like to read the book and have my husband read the book as he is the father of 4 TCK’ s and married to one and think it would help him understand us better, not that he isn’t a good husband and father. Also would be good for me to read it. I can pass it onto others also on the mission field as my husband and I have been missionaries for 33 years.

  30. Sondra October 28, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    I’d love to read this! I don’t fit any mold and never will. I’m a TCK, third generation or so. But I’ve “settled” in the Pacific Northwest, bought a house, all that jazz. Raising two monocultural adopted kids alone. I mostly get the slang now, and most of the traditions (though I recently googled “homecoming” and checked with a coworker about whether Americans do poppies on Veterans/Rememberance Day). But I am always aware that I am the odd one out — at church, at my job, among my friends… It’s so lonely sometimes.

  31. Ruth October 29, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    I would love to read this book! I am American, married to a Dutchman, and we live in China. Our 2 kids were born in China and they look Dutch with their blond hair and blue eyes. My son is very western and my daughter is very Chinese; he asks for white meat, she asks for dark meat, saying, “White meat is too dry” just like an Asian would say.

  32. Candace Bell October 29, 2014 at 2:16 am #

    I would love to read your book, and share it with my husband and kids to help them understand their wife/mom better, and maybe to prepare the kids for adventures of their own overseas. I was born in Brazil, spent most of my life there (brief stops in Canada, U.S., Mexico) through high school.

  33. Debbie Miller October 29, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    I’d like to read this book to inform my life-time goal of developing a measure of transculturality for TCKs & CCKs (on the verge of having an article accepted for publication). On a more personal note, I love the practical and vivid quotes from the book.

  34. Autumn October 29, 2014 at 2:49 am #

    Such a great post! I love it. I would love to read this book. Pick me!

  35. Karina Jansma October 29, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    This book sounds great! I was born in the US but moved to Brasil as a two year old. I lived there untill I was about five and then my family moved to Papua New Guniea. I lived there until I was around eleven, all the while moving around within the country. Then we moved back to Brasil, where my dad was born and grew up. Recently we just finished the process of adopting five little Brazilian kids into our already large family of eight. In our home we now speak both languages (English and Portuguese).
    As I prepare to graduate I am very nervous about returning to the U.S. where I have only ever visited. My desire to be a part of the culture and fit in fights against the stronger part of me to not lose my uniqueness as a TCK. This book would be a great help to prepare for this transition! Thanks for your story!

  36. Tanya October 29, 2014 at 3:36 am #

    I just moved to the US a few months ago to attend college and these passages really hit home with me. They illustrated what I’m feeling perfectly and even talked about my biggest fear: loosing who I am. But I don’t even really know who I am sometimes! I’m from both Peru and Germany and have never actually lived in the U.S. even though I have a passport, but so many times I find myself trying to work out ME. I’d love to know more about myself, how I can adapt better to a basically new culture, and how to not forget who I am. This book sounds amazing but I realize there are a lot of people who would benefit from reading it so I will just order a copy. Someone else probably needs it more than me, but I wanted to share anyways:) Thank you for this!

  37. Robin Blanc Greene October 29, 2014 at 3:41 am #

    This resonates so much with my childhood. My mom decided to live in another country and took me along. I never even knew I was a third culture kid until recently. Instead I had believed the mono-cultural kids in both my home and adopted cultures that I was strange and weird since I was different and often didn’t know the rules or customs or pop culture references that I had missed by being in the other culture for a summer. (I had NO freaking idea what the Macarena was because I was gone that Summer!) This book sounds perfect for my weirdness.

  38. Emily October 29, 2014 at 3:55 am #

    My husband and I are preparing to move overseas, and we have a 3 year old. I’m trying to intake as much information as possible to mentally prepare ourselves and him as best we can. Would love to read this!

  39. Krystal Finney October 29, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    Although I’m not a third culture kid, since I married my husband 8 years ago we have lived more than half of that time overseas. My son was born in Italy and we recently moved back to the states 2 years ago. When we found out not only that my husband’s company was moving us out of Italy, but back to the states, my heart sank. If they were moving us at least send us somewhere oversea, not back to the states! Ever since hitting U.S. soil I have been itching to get back out and explore. Live amongst other cultures. Maybe someday this will happen again for my family.

  40. AshleyK October 29, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    I am raising three TCK- I am looking for ways to nurture them and learning to help them survive, cope, or thrive, as fits the moment. :) I would LOVE to read this book!!!

  41. Angie October 29, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I am a TCK mom raising twins outside their passport country. They will be off to college in less than 2 years and I fear a lot of what has been stated here; loosing identity, not fitting in, etc. I pray that I’ve instilled in them what they need to grow and be responsible young adults and future parents. I pray that what they have learned in almost 10 years overseas will be positives that they are proud of and want to tell the world about. I would love to read this book to get other perspectives on TCKs. Thanks for a great blog. I follow regularly.

  42. Jennifer October 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    I would love to read this book! My own experience was far from this- growing up in a farming community where everyone lives their entire lives. But, we go yearly to minister to missionary families including youth & children’s programs for TCK’s. I’m trying to learn about their experiences, and who knows it may be my own kids experiences at some point.

  43. AllisonG October 29, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    After growing up all over Europe, I feel incredibly stifled being stuck on campus most of the year for college. While Colorado is beautiful, it’s just not the same. I miss the rain in Belgium, the sun in Greece, the oranges in Spain, the art in Italy, the Weihnachtsmarkts in Germany, the late nights in Finland, the Kvass in Latvia, windsurfing in Sardinia… sigh… Locals brag about the majesty of the Rockies, but they’ve never driven through the Swiss Alps when the countless waterfalls are thundering down. Friends try alcohol for the first time, but I know more about wine than any of them, even though I’m only 19. Nobody gets it, and they roll their eyes anytime I start a story with “When I was in…” I would love to read this book, as it would probably be the story of my life all over again. Maybe I can pass it to some friends to help them understand who I am. Thank you for posting!

  44. Katherine October 29, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    This is great! I’m a TCK raising a TCK, so I related to much of what you (and Marilyn) wrote! I would love to read this book!

  45. Hannah October 29, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    Hi. I am a TCK who grew up in West Africa, and I would love to get this book because I could share it with my four siblings (one of whom is preparing to come back for college this fall) and with the parents of my younger TCK friends. I remember the first time I read a book about TCKs – it changed my life because it was at that moment I realized I was not alone. And that is such a powerful gift to give, one that I have been on a mission to give to other TCKs since it was given to me. I’m in college – I can’t buy this book, but if it is given to me it will be shared with as many others as I know.

  46. Kelly October 29, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    What powerful quotes! Right now I especially relate to the “third culture kid envy” as friends get stationed overseas or my mom is back in France for the week…thankfully I still have plenty of reasons to keep my passport up to date. :) There is an international meet and greet group starting on our base that gives me hope–there are others like me here, too! Marilyn’s book is definitely on my wish list now. :)

  47. Matt October 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    Looks like I am in the minority here as a guy. I am a TCK, having grown up in Australia before returning to my “home” country (USA) for college. It was there that I met my non-TCK wife and then dove into life overseas. We worked in Albania for many years and have raised 3 TCKs of our own. Right now we are operating a pastoral care center for folks in cross-cultural Christian ministry, targeting those working in the Balkans. Along the way we have been doing re-entry retreats for MKs and their families. It is surprising to see how many parents of MKs don’t fully understand the impact of cross-cultural living on their kids. We’d love to read the book and have it in our library here to use as a resource for those who we are able to serve. I remember when (as an adult and father of 3) I first heard the term “TCK” and the lights came on for me – understanding why I was the way I was in so many areas. Thanks to Marilyn for writing the book and thanks for sharing it in this way!

  48. Jim Burke October 29, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    thanks for this post… I need to read this today!

  49. Valerie October 29, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    I split my time among the US, Switzerland, and Brazil. And many family members spend much time in Peru, Chile, Uruguay and other South American countries. The book would be great to have for my siblings and their kids and my grandkids, nieces, nephews, and for the whole ex pat communities with whom we’re involved. Reading what other people have said in their replies, we probably won’t be chosen for a free book but if we are so lucky, the book will pass through many hands and will be shared among many! Thanks for sharing!

  50. Andrea October 29, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    i would love this book because I am raising 5 third world kids. It’s nice for them to see they aren’t alone.

  51. Katie October 29, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    So fun that you’re friends with this author!

    I’d be interested in reading this book because the last book I read about TCK identity was David Pollock’s– it was helpful in some ways but it’s been years since then. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much has changed for me in the past decade or so. I always imagined I’d be one of those adult TCKs who couldn’t stop traveling, but actually I’ve lived in my current city longer than anywhere I lived growing up. Perhaps if money were no object I’d be doing more international travel– I do dream of it sometimes and especially enjoy the hope of someday revisiting old haunts in Pakistan and Egypt. But as it is, finances and the demands of my work do limit me pretty significantly in being able to do that. I feel like I’ve assimilated to American culture SO much more than I could’ve imagined when I moved back to the States in 2003, which almost makes me question my right to identify as a TCK anymore? But for all that I’ve assimilated there are definitely differences– in my values, in the global spread of my friends, in my sympathy for others whose pasts are sort of fractured.

    I definitely still get that same panic when asked where I’m from. After all these years I don’t have an answer that I don’t stumble with a bit; I either omit the most unique details of my life or I lead with, “it’s kind of a long story.” Haha. Some things never change.

  52. Helena October 30, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    I would love to read this book as I am a Finn and my other half is an Italian, our children hold both passports and hopefully will be fluent in 3 languages at some point. We are living in London, UK, and although there are lots of immigrant families who are holding onto their home cultures whilst living here, whether permanently or temporarily, there isn’t much written material about how to navigate this. I would love to read about how my children will likely be feeling, but may be still too young to fully articulate.

  53. Becca October 30, 2014 at 2:56 am #

    Hmmm, I’m not a “third culture kid” officially, but I find I can identify with a lot of the things you quoted from Marilyn’s text. My prayer is often similar to yours as well. :) Seems like one could gain a lot of insight and perspective from this book!

  54. Valerie Williams October 30, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I would love to read this book. I have raised 4 children overseas in China and Russia. Now I am “aunt” to 400+ TCKs with our organization. I always enjoy reading new resources and recommending them to the families I work with.

  55. Elizabeth October 30, 2014 at 8:17 am #

    I find Third Culture Kids stories quite fascinating (I did not know the term until reading your blog.) I grew up quite opposite – my parents STILL live in the house they moved our family jnto when I was 8 months old. Thanks to the Army my husband and I are now living in Germany with our 2 and 3 year old. (We even had to apply for our passports AFTER our arrival!) Our eyes have been opened and we are embracing living abroad. We even have our 3 year old enrolled in a German Kindergarten! I would love to read this book.

  56. Phyllis October 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

    I think I’m a TCA (a Third Culture Adult). :) But if that’s not a real thing, I’m definitely raising 4 TCKs, so I would really like to read this book.

  57. Mollie Lupinacci October 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Penang, Malaysia
    Tokyo, Japan
    Atlanta Georgia
    Moscow, Russia
    Atlanta, Georgia

    We’ve been ‘back’ for only 3 months but it seems like 6-9. Time is ticking and I find myself unsettled. I am supposed to be here now but don’t feel normal. Frankly I don’t know if I’d recognize normal. I’m trying to help teenagers readjust when I myself am living in the tension of adventure & overseas and awkward home life. I am reminding myself that it takes longer to make non tck friends. It is normal that people don’t understand what we are going through. It is ok not to tell everyone ‘here’ that sometimes ‘there’ is better. I am not fake if my two worlds never overlap. The brief times they do are glorious– they are real and I become known.

    Yes! I would love to read this book.

  58. Whitney October 30, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    I would love to read this book. I have always loved the idea of living overseas, and even though I am not married or a parent, I feel like this could still happen for me someday. My college roommate married a third culture kid, and I have found the idea of third culture kids somewhat fascinating ever since.

  59. Michael Pollock October 31, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    This book would be a great read and another resource/recommendation for my library. I’m an ATCK, growing up between the US and Kenya. My dad wrote the TCK book with Ruth Van Reken while I was in highschool. My wife and I (she was born in Sierra Leone to medical missionary parents) headed to China with our two children in 2003 and adopted our third child there.

    Now I work with TCKs in the 17-25 ish range and I think that stories, sharing and affirming stories, is one of the most powerful things we can do. Thanks for sharing yours!

  60. Maia Manchester October 31, 2014 at 3:17 am #

    I would love to read this book. I am a TCK blogger myself and follow Marilyn’s blog off of a recomendation of someone who knew her from her Egypt days. I’m always looking for more information and more stories to connect to my own heart. Books like these make me feel less alone in the world.

  61. Gretchen October 31, 2014 at 3:35 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with us all! I actually don’t remember if I’ve commented before, but I’ve been reading for a few months, came over from your feature on Design Mom and decided to stop following her and start following you instead. :). My cousin was an MK who grew up as a third culture kid, and when she lived with my family for two summers during college, we came to realize what an amazing, well-adjusted person she is. This unique aspect of your life must have gone a long way toward making you the amazing woman of God that you are. (She then married an Albanian Christian and settled into an entirely new-to-her country to raise their family.) This past winter, we had two young ladies living with us for a semester who grew up as third culture kids in Asia….this post really helped me to sympathize with them, so thank you.

    As for us….we merely honeymooned in Italy and have been back once, plus have two children close to your children’s ages, so your life in Sicily was 100% intriguing and often a bit envy-inducing. Italy will always be the most romantic place on earth to us!

  62. Becca Schnurr October 31, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    I grew up as an MK in South Africa but now reside in the US with my American husband. I have to laugh when my daughter “explains” to me how American culture functions. She sees me as a foreigner, and for a long time thought her father and I had married on a 90 day fiance visa.
    Sometimes it’s challenging to explain to her that “I am neither but I am both”.

    I’m in my 40’s, established in my career for just over 14 years now, but still encounter situations where I feel awkward socially, when I just don’t know quite how the average American would respond. I firmly believe you never outgrow being a TCK (and all that goes with that), but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

  63. Sherry Barnes Kerley January 4, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    I am a TCK having lived my childhood all over the place. I am an Air Force Brat and have lived in Germany, Norway, France with months in Denmark. Also lived in Nebraska, Texas, California, Illinois, Missouri, born in Georgia. All of this before High school! Went to two High schools as well. So I get so confused whenever someone wants to know where I am from! I usually just say born in Georgia then lived everywhere else. I had a very hard time fitting in as a kid when we finally came to the states to actually live for more than a couple of years. I would like to get a copy of your book to see if it would help me understand how I feel about not having a “hometown” to go to. I still shy away from conversations about where I came from and what did my dad do? I feel awkward talking about all the different places I have lived and how different my schooling was to someone else. I like finding other military brats to talk to. Thank you


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