Cultural Identity Confusion and Third Culture Kids

Recently I entered the world called Twitter, it is may be something like the "expat bubble", if you're in it you know exactly what I am talking about but if you have never been part of that world it all seems so foreign. Well that's what I had with the world called Twitter. I seemed to have convinced myself that I could not understand the twitter language. After hearing someone speak about the great advantage of combining a blog with being active on twitter, I was convinced. I was going to dive into this new world and conquer. In the beginning I had some culture shock problems. I had no idea what the hashtags mean. I only just discovered that #ff means #followfriday. So on Friday people twitter that giving suggestions who to follow. Wow, I'm never too old to learn and neither are you! By the way if you want to follow me on twitter find me @DrieCulturen.

So while I was in the twitter world I came across this interesting quote.

It is a quote by Libby Stephens :  

"In the 25+ years of working with third culture kids, I don't find cultural identity confusion to be a big issue until the TCKs return to their passport country"

The quote resonates in my heart because it is exactly my experience. There was no problem in my life until I went to the Netherlands to study when I was 19 years old. So what was the confusion?

Suddenly I discovered that I looked Dutch but did not feels Dutch. No that's not quite right. I did feel Dutch. I mean while I lived in Africa I felt Dutch. It was only when I lived with the Dutch in the Netherlands that I discovered that I looked the same but I felt different. Inside me I longed for Africa and I thought maybe I look Dutch but am African on the inside?

Earth by PSchubert Morgue file
At my secondary school in Zimbabwe I was called the "foreigner". On my identity card in Zimbabwe it said "alien". It really is a great feeling, being 16 years old and being called an "alien". Sorry folks this is not a made up story, this is real life. Are you starting to see where the confusion stepped into my life. Recently I discovered that there is a word that described me. I was a "hidden immigrant". says hidden immigrants look alike but think different. So things only got better: from foreigner, to alien, now a hidden immigrant. Later I discovered that I was a ATCK too...

You can read an important book by Kay Branaman Eakin called "According to my passport I'm coming Home" (free download here). It contains lots of information on third culture kids returning to their passport countries. What are the challenges?

Read my Dutch post about retuning home: terugkeer, re-entry, help!

Did you or your kids experience cultural confusion, and in what way?