Having recently spoken about expat wives and husbands, it is only natural that I give “expat kids” a mention.
Now referred to as Third Culture Kids, you’ll know if you’re raising a TCK, as there are 10 basic signs.
1. He flew before he had teeth and he needed an exit visa before he was on solid food
2. She thinks “Conas Ata Tu” is a type of sushi
3. His friends are from five different countries, one of which you had to Google to find exactly where it was.
4. They start sentences with, “the next house we live in I’d like ….” Or “What country are we going to next.”
5. They looked confused when someone asks them for their home address.
6. They know the baggage allowance on at least 5 different airlines.
7. He asks the difference between Hurling and Camogie
8. She knows the 3 letter abbreviation for airports in over 10 countries.
9. He has an IPad and at least two Hotel Chain Rewards Cards in his changing bag.
10. She thinks the end of school year is always sad as so many friends will move away but thanks to BBM, Viber and Skype they will never lose touch.
Coming from seventies Ireland and a time where you started primary school with a handful of neighbors and cousins and saw it out to sixth class with the same group intact. Nobody ever moved house let alone county and the only experience we had of foreign countries was when it was rumored that Fergal’s cousin went to Spain on a holiday, which caused a ripple of awe throughout the 4th Class resulting in Fergal gaining a certain kudos from the whole school, having a cousin go to Spain to a Irish ten year old back in 1986 was like a trip to the moon in 2013 – possible if you had the money, but not many had.
These days many of the 80’ kids are raising Third Culture Kids, the popular phrase name given to children who have spent a significant number of their developmental years living in a culture different to their own. From the beginning I had placed a significant amount of importance on the children remaining “Irish” and retaining their “Irishness” but as time passes the benefits of being a TCK child become more obvious, they are adaptable, broad-minded and more versatile that their parents who may have dithered over going to college in Tralee back in ’93.
Expat children grow up being aware of different cultures and have the advantage of looking at life from a global viewpoint. Attitudes to alcohol, drugs and sex are very much diluted due to the religious constraints of their Muslim, Hindu and practicing Catholic friends, in comparison to the evidently liberal society in Ireland not to mention extensive media coverage of all things sexual. Living abroad without a pub culture also extends teenage ambitions passed being allowed into the local at eighteen to get bladdered on fat frogs, and so the advantage of living away from a drinking culture during teenage years also appeals. By the time they’re five they’ll have clocked up more air-miles than their Grandparents and they have learned the art of travelling light by the time they’re reached eight years old. Private schools are a way of life and behavior problems are an urban myth they’ve heard about on Face book.
So for today’s generation of expat kids, living in their own little bubble as they bob around the world from one soft landing to another the effects of this generation are yet to be revealed, will they appreciate the notion of “home” and decide to settle down at some stage or will they become reliant on change to keep life interesting and become a generation of global nomads?