l. Laying Groundwork

A Family Introduction


   There are the top four, as we like call them the “best four”, and than there are two little ones. Some might even say the two extras. By the time I was born, I had two sisters and a brother. Girl-boy-girl, and you guessed it, everyone thought I’d be a boy, but surprise I have a vagina. Years went by before the two extras joined the clan, so no questions asked, I will always be the baby. 

   Contrary to popular belief, we all come from the same two people. The parents. They're quite traditional in certain areas. Not all areas, thank god, but certain ones. They did the classic “fall-in-love and get married” thing and started a family. Not many couples have a bunch of kids and travel the whole globe together but more on that later. I forgot to mention that my parents are Dutch and that both sides of the extended family still live in The Netherlands.

   Side note: If I’m fluent in Dutch, don’t ask me if I’m from Denmark. It's not the same. It’s embarrassing for you. Just stop. 

   Back to what I was saying; as far as I can backtrack, we are the only family from both sides to ever leave the motherland. We are proud of where we come from and will always defend our king, queen and our football, but other than that we’ve moved on. 


Where Are You From? 


   This may be the worst question for someone that has grown up around the globe. We've been labeled 'third culture kids' or TCK's as I'd like to call us. If you're unfamiliar with the term TCK, let me explain. If you have more than one acceptable answer to "where are you from?" perhaps that's a marker. You may speak multiple languages fluently but have never studied them on a grammatical standpoint. Even been homesick reading National Geographic? It happens.

   While growing up I've always made it a point to explain where I was from because I thought that was the norm. I've always had people ask, so why not tell them straight out the gate. As I've grown I have completely stopped explaining. Not that I no longer want to, but I don't have this need to explain why I may say things differently or have no shame in asking what the hell people are talking about because I wasn't part of these cultures as a developing child. Things such as american football, prom, national anthems, culturally correct ways to greet people. All these things: 'normal' for someone who isn't a TCK. Too many times have I greeted someone with three kisses when it had to be two. Hugged when I had to bow. Lets be real, after a few culture changes these things start to blend together. 

   As I became more independent I found loopholes that help learn cultural norms much faster. For me, sitting alone in coffee shop, sip on a drink and just watch. Watch as life goes on around you and take everything in. You'll start to notice how people communicate with one another. Learn the language as fast as you possibly can. Taking language courses isn't my cup of tea but immersing yourself completely in a new culture is the way I've learned best. 

   Too many times I have meet other travels that will always compare. Compare their home-culture with the current culture their in. Comparing how things are being said, things are being done. But I always wondered, if it was so good back home, why are you here? Of course some things may run better a certain way in one culture, but if this culture hasn't changed its ways for hundreds of years I have a feeling they're going to be just fine. Accept that you're in a new place. Accept that you may never go back to where you just came from. Move on and be grateful for the change you've discovered. Embrace it.