Search Results for: expat

I don’t fit in, an interview with the Two Fat Expats

Have you lived abroad, or have plans to in the future?  Make the Two Fat Expats podcast a part of your weekly listening habits!

The Two Fat Expats podcast does not refer to being rotund and plump around the middle … instead, it refers to living a fat life, full of experience, joy and relationships. It was lovely to have a chat recently with Kirsty Rice and Sarah Derrig, the founders of the Two Fat Expats podcast.  We talked about the process of repatriating, moving back home and what advice I have for folks planning to do the same in the near future.

Click the image below to listen … my interview begins at the 21:00 mark.

Two Fat Expats with Kirsty Rice


The entire podcast library is lovely to listen to, subscribe via iTunes!!


What is an expat and TCK?

Because Todd had prior experience living overseas, the term “expat” was not new to me when we first discussed moving to India. I realized though that though that I adopted the term very rapidly, I’ve never really talked about what it means to BE an expat.

What is an expat?

To borrow from Wikipedia :

An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latinex(out of) and patria(country, fatherland).

Easy enough, right?

But wait … then there’s the discussion on Third Culture Kids.

What is an Expat and TCk

My mom ordered the Third Culture Kids book by David Pollock for me to read about this subject, but I thought it might be interesting to discuss a bit here prior to my delving in future posts.

Third Culture Kids or Trans-Culture Kids (abbreviated TCKs and sometimes also called Global Nomad “refers to someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture”. 

Origins and Research

Sociologist Ruth Hill Useem coined the term “Third Culture Kids” after spending a year on two separate occasions in India with her three children, (Flopsi, Penny, and Dipsi) … [note: yes, those are apparently really their names and not their blogger pseudonyms!] 

… in the early ’50s. Initially the term “third culture” was used to refer to the process of learning how to relate to another culture; in time, the meaning of the term changed and children who accompany their parents into a different culture were referred to as “Third Culture Kids”. Useem used the term “Third Culture Kids” because TCKs integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture) and the new culture (the second culture), creating a unique “third culture”.


TCKs often come from highly successful, intact, educated families.When a group decides to send or bring somebody to a foreign country, they are making a significant investment. They want to send people who will represent the group the best and provide the most value for the investment.  “Almost all” TCK families are deployed to foreign countries as a result of the father’s profession, and very few families live in another country primarily due to the mother’s occupation.

Intercultural experiences

TCKs are often multilingual and highly accepting of other cultures. Moving from country to country often becomes an easy thing for these individuals.  Many TCKs take years to readjust to their passport countries. They often suffer a reverse culture shock upon their return, and are constantly homesick for their adopted country.

Many TCKs face an identity crisis: they don’t know where they come from. It would be typical for a TCK to say that he or she is a citizen of a country but with nothing beyond their passport to define that identification for them.

They usually find it difficult to answer the question, “Where are you from?” Compared to their peers who have lived their entire lives in a single culture, TCKs have a globalized culture. Others can have difficulty relating to them. It is hard for TCKs to present themselves as a single cultured person, which makes it hard for others who have not had similar experiences to accept them for who they are.

They know bits and pieces of at least two cultures, yet most of them have not fully experienced any one culture making them feel incomplete or left out by other children who have not lived overseas. They often build social networks among themselves and prefer to socialize with other TCKs.

Recently, blogs and social networks including Facebook and TCKID, have become a helpful way for TCKs to interact. In addition, chatting programs including Skype are often used so TCKs can keep in touch with each other. The unique experiences of TCKs among different cultures and various relationships at the formative stage of their development makes their view of the world different from others.

Notable TCKs

  • US President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii from an American mother and a Kenyan father and grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii.
  • Current NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, the Philadelphia-born son of professional basketball player Joe Bryant, lived in Italy from ages 6 to 13 while his father played in that country.
  • Former NBA star and current team executive Steve Kerr, son of American academic Malcolm Kerr, was born in Beirut and spent most of his childhood in various countries in the Arab world, only moving to the U.S. permanently in high school.
  • Zack Kim, Notable guitarist was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

If you made it to the end of this post, I’d love to hear your comments about TCKs.  Are you one?  Do you know one?    Is the thought of raising a TCK exciting or paralyzing?



Things expats say ::

What is honey boo boo?

Where are you going on Fall break?

(followed closely by)

Where are you going for Holiday break?

(followed closely by)

Where are you going for Spring break?

(followed closely by)

Where are you going for summer home leave?

Have you had dengue or chikungunya?

What day of the week do you get fogged?

Have you seen a Lion Dance yet?

Have the rains come yet?

Isn’t the leaving assembly on the last day of school just so hard and emotional?

Does your expat package include one driver or two?

Do you use HSBC? 

(followed closely by)

Ugh, right?

How do you get rid of the lizards?


How do you get rid of the rats?

This is just a tongue-in-cheek collection of some of the funny things I remember saying (or hearing) and then thinking … how bizarre.

What are some — if you’ve lived overseas — that you could add to the list? 

Keep it respectful and funny, please

Keepsakes, the expat lifestyle and capturing stories

One of the things that frustrated me with the expat lifestyle was the impracticality of having keepsakes with you on a regular basis.

It did not make sense to take the important stuff with us from country to country, so instead we made hard decisions on what mattered most to us.  What you would rescue from a burning house, what you want your children to have that they can pass down to your grandchildren.

Among those things that often got relegated to “leave it behind, so that you can save it forever” are these …

DEC_3908 DEC_3909 summer (137)


I’ve embarked on a story-catching journey. To reach back into the archives of my family’s memories and pull out the moments and recollections of what makes up the history of who we are today. I’ll be sitting down with members of both sides of our family, which in reality means much more than just ‘his side’ and ‘my side’, to start having discussions about favorite recipes, childhood memories and what school was like.

I don’t know where the project will take me, but I’m so excited to start using the keepsakes as prompts to encourage conversations, instead of watching them collect more and more dust.

Who is the story catcher in your family? Who do you love to listen to tell the stories of days past?