The dilemma of a TCK…

“Third Culture Kid (TCK): (n) a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.”


My life in a nutshell

That is basically what I am. I am a Korean-born globetrotter who has been thrown into this cultural-identity-crisis limbo, due to having lived in different parts of the world for so long. When I was in 3rd grade, my family moved to a tiny suburb near San Francisco, California, where my younger sister and I spent our childhood scrambling to pick up English (which we did in an incredibly rapid pace) to assimilating into the “American” culture. Four years later, we moved down to sunny Los Angeles – and I gotta tell you, from where I was in the Bay Area, you didn’t see that many Koreans around; but my goodness, I thought L.A. was where all the Koreans were at (which isn’t a totally false statement).

What? China???

What? China???

Then in 2005, my father broke the news to my sister and I, that we are moving to China because he was relocating his business. China. Not Panda Express China, it was going to be the real deal. My teenager self had everything planned out – graduate from Crescenta Valley High School with my friends, enroll in (probably) one of the UC schools, graduate with a good degree then find a job… That was all about to change.

I still remember when we first stepped out of the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and let the first inhale of the foreign air travel through my body. The air had a funny, polluted stench that I would never forget. My sister and I enrolled in an international division of a prestige local Chinese school, then transferred to a small international school a year later. That was when my life in Shanghai truly blossomed.

Shanghai day to night

Shanghai, you gorgeous gem…

Despite the hardships I faced while getting accustomed to a new country, I fell madly in love with the dynamic city and excepted Shanghai as my new “home.”

After completing high school, I decided to revisit my teenage dream of continuing life in the stateside. I enrolled in the University of Washington in the rainy city, Seattle, where I spent another unforgettable five years learning and discovering more about myself and the world.

So why blog?

After 5 years in Seattle, I finally returned to Seoul, South Korea where I am based at the moment. While scrambling to settle in (which I am an expert at by this point) and look for jobs, I decided to do something worthwhile and create this blog. I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a long time but I just couldn’t figure out what to blog about. Then upon multiple conversations with friends, I decided that I should start a blog with my third culture identity as the background.

The dilemma of a TCK...

So with that said, I wanted to make something clear: this blog is NOT for discussing culture ONLY. Sure, every once in a while I’ll write about how my TCK-ness plays role in my life back home, but this blog is meant to be a record of my discoveries and experiences through the eyes of a TCK. Because of my situation, Korea is still relatively foreign to me, and there  I hope that my blog can bring some insight to those who are currently living in Korea, or just like what I write, or to other TCKs out there who might stumble across my blog.

Lesson learned

I’m still caught between the different spectrum of cultures, and it still feels a bit unnatural calling Korea my “home.” I’m sure it’ll take some time to get used to. I’m going to take my situation as an opportunity to grow even more, for I believe the limit to one’s personal growth is infinite. I have already learned to except changes in life as an opportunity and that I must always try to make the best out it.

You can call me “indecisive,” but I can’t picture myself staying in one place for an extended period of time. I think in this day and age, travelling has become way easier than before, and I was fortunate to have taken advantage of it at a young age. So I’m just going to continue doing that. 😉

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