Watching our language: How language defines TCKs

Watching our language: How language defines TCKs

Today is Hangeulย Proclamation Dayย in Korea, which is a day to celebrate the invention of Hangeul, or the Korean alphabet. I thought today would be an appropriate day to talk about something that is very relevant to us TCKs: language!

One thing that most TCKs have in common is that they’re multilingual – and yes, we’re proud of it. Whether you’ve fully mastered the language or know just enough to get by, you’re already a step ahead of the game from many of your peers.

Language is a very significant part of any TCK’s life. We grew up in places where they didn’t speak your parents’ languageย but as you already know, those all happened to be blessings in disguise! Because of these opportunities, we’ve organically acquired a very important and sought-after skill-set. We’re able to communicate and express our minds very colorfully using the different languages on our palette. We like to call ourselves global citizens, worldly, wanderlusts, etc… I truly believe that there’s nothing quite like language that defines our crazy (but exhilarating, nonetheless) lifestyle. Here’s how: Continue reading


Spending the holidays back home: What it’s like for a TCK

Spending the holidays back home: What it's like for a TCK

It is officially the night before Chuseok, one of the biggest national holidays here in Korea. I often like to compare Chuseok to America’s Thanksgiving. (If you’re not familiar with the holiday, read about it here) While they might not be the exact same, the magnitude of the two holidays sure is similar. Big feasts, family gatherings, travel nightmares, etc…

This year I’ll be spending my second Chuseok with the family since I’ve returned to Korea. It’s also something I should get used to since last year I was so busy with just trying to adjust to my new life at my new/old home and I didn’t really get to fully enjoy the holiday. As the buzz and excitement around Chuseok continues to build up, there are some thoughts that inevitably popped up in my head: Continue reading

Would you date a non-TCK?

Would you date a non-TCK?

When I went to Shanghai a few weeks ago, I met up with one of my dear friends, who also happens to be a TCK. (a.k.a. awesome) We spent hours (snap)chatting away to fill in the 6-month void we had of not seeing each other.

Of course, what is girl talk without the juicy topic of “dating”? My friend brought up an interesting question that really piqued my mind.

“Would you date someone who’s not a TCK?”

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TCK anxiety: losing your TCK identity?

TCK anxiety: losing your TCK identity?

A question for my fellow TCKs – why do you love being a TCK? What makes it so proud-worthy for you? There could be many different answers to this. I am going to safely assume that one of the popular answers would be our “unique, hetero-cultural identity.” However, what if you were to lose that very characteristic and revert back to just one cultural identity? To me, that’s quite frightening. Continue reading

Things I deal with as a TCK all the time…

Things I deal with as a TCK all the time...

I love being a third culture kid. I embrace it as a unique characteristic that defines who I am. But like everything else, there are things that I constantly deal with, no matter where we go or who we meet. Coming back to the motherland was no exception, and there were some things I had to deal with repeatedly. Here are a few examples:

1. Getting my identity questioned. All the time.

I’m pretty sure this one is a no-brainer and a staple problem for many fellow TCKs out there. As a matter of fact, this very topic is what the concept of TCK is built around. To others, we’re very difficult to put a label on. How many times have you explained the story of your life to someone you’ve just met? And the struggle to crunch the whole story in just 1 minute? Psh, we’ve already mastered it. Continue reading

My thoughts as a TCK: on assimilation & friendship

My thoughts as a TCK: on assimilation & friendshipA few weeks ago, I was on my phone reading up blogs as usual as that’s what makes my long commute way more manageable. I stumbled across two posts that really piqued my thoughts. They were written by fellow TCKs on subjects that we are all too familiar with: assimilation and friendship. The two subjects literally are constants in our unique lives and also what defines us as third culture kids. Continue reading

My 3 months in Korea… How am I doing so far?

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(Original photo:

I remember my mom telling me once: “When you’re in your teens, your life passes by at 10 mph; when you’re in your 20s, your life passes by at 20 mph; when you’re in your 30s, your life passes by at 30 mph…” and it goes on. As you can probably guess, she meant that time flies by faster as you age. And my oh my, she could not be more right. This past 3 months sure were a whirlwind of changes. Instead of getting swept away by the rapid changes, I wanted to take a step back and see how I’m faring so far. So here is my overview of how I’m doing so far:

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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 parentsโ€™ 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.

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