Coming/going back home … “home”??


Returning to your passport country. Easier said than done. Harder because you do not expect it to be difficult. Harder because no one else expects it to be difficult. How could it be? It is your country, you are supposed to know everything. You do not receive the understanding and offers of help that you hopefully get when you move to another country; you are just supposed to fit in. I hear tons of stories about people coming home and the alienation they feel. Families, parents, adults, children, teens. And the surprise of it all. Re-entry is usually harder and takes longer than going away in the first place. Things are new but yet not. Things might be different but it is just not exciting. Not exotic at all – after all it is just home. You are not exotic; no longer having the status of an expatriate. And no one really wants to know. I meet people who still after 20 years of re-entry are frustrated by the fact that no one has ever been interested to learn about their time in another culture. So I ask, and listen. And I learn. Society should too. How do we take care of all our global minds that return? How do we make them stay?Imagine the experience wasted from a societal perspective when people do not settle but re-enter the path of constant transition.

What about returning with kids? Think of what “home” is for your children. Lots of parents speak of home, yet their children have almost never lived in their passport countries. To children home is here and now. Think of a teen that has lived his or her life entirely outside the country of the parents´ origin. How is that “coming home”? Imagine trying to fit in. It is hard enough to be a teenager. There is a lot to read and explore on TCKs (third culture kids) on the internet and in the on-line bookstores. It is a great gift to have seen the world but it is also valuable to be aware of the effects hereof, on your child.

Coming home also means start missing things. Things you´d never thought you´d miss. Yep, it´s true! But remember that it is always the good things that stuck. Try once in a while to think about what you did not appreciate – I am sure it was not all that perfect. Nostalgia makes it harder to settle. Go back for a visit after a while, and you will be reminded of details you had forgotten. Things that make you go “oh yeah, glad we escaped that one!”.

Coming/going back home should be properly addressed. Raising the awarness of the potential issues connected to repatriation is key. Just being aware of them makes it easier for you!


14 thoughts on “Coming/going back home … “home”??”

    1. Did not realize there was a name for this. I am Dominican and my huansbd is Haitian. We have always thought this was normal because most of our friends are the same way. In our neighborhood you are either white and born here or you are a foreigner where your kids are first generation natural born Americans. Love your site it is really different from the others. I will be back here again.

  1. Thanks you so much for adding the link to my blog, I appreciate that. I’m sorry to dissappoint you but I do not post everyday, but frequently. I was born and grew up in Africa. Re-entry was when I went to study in the Netherlands at 19 years of age. It was not really “re-entry” because I had not really lived in the Netherlands before. In Africa I felt so Dutch, but in the Netherlands I did not fit in, I felt so different and the worst was it was completely unexpected. Nobody had prepared me for the shock: transition shock? Culture shock? I want to raise awareness too because it is so important!
    Third culture kids going to university should read this book: “The Global Nomad’s Guide To University Transition” by Tina Quick. It contains lots of useful information. Greetings Janneke @DrieCulturen

    1. Hallo! Schf6ne Grfcdfe! Glad to have found an expat like me here in Germany! Thank you for this information. I haven’t heard of the TCK term too. I’m relaly having a hard time adjusting my life here especially the language. How about you, have you learned Deutsch? Hope we could connect some time. Where are you in Germany, by the way? I’m in Aalen, an hour away from Stuttgart. 🙂

      1. I can definitely rlaete. I’ve moved more times than I can count (because I never know whether or not to count the places I only lived for a few months), so goodbyes are familiar to me. Like a lot of kids that grew up constantly moving, I developed a habit of closing myself off to people. It’s only in the last few years I’ve discovered no matter what you do or say, the goodbyes will still hurt and it’s just another part of this thing called life. So I’m making friends again and allowing myself to love and be loved because in the end, even after the goodbyes are said and the tears are cried, it’s still worth it.

  2. Lol , I meant That your post contains the daily life of à TCK, not That u post everyday!
    Have you lived in the NL since 19? How Did you manage the transition? Most of us do, sooner & later, but the ride can be so much smoother with awareness & the right tools.

    1. This is VERY interesting. I have eecprienxe as an ESL teacher, although my training was minimal in that area (apparently, if you’re an English teacher, people think you’re qualified to teach English to speakers of other languages). This is just one more example of something I’d have liked to know prior to teaching these kids. Some of what you say in here I can nod my head to, having eecprienxed it with them. Thanks for sharing!Stopping by from the voiceBoks Members to Remember. 🙂

  3. Oh – this couldn’t have come at a better time! We are moving back to our passport country, full of all sorts of emotions. Our 20 month old has no idea of home yet, but is already so familiar with life here and where everything is; our 6.5 year old has lived in Germany longer than “home” – and has no memory of her old house/bedroom/life; our oldest is 9.5 and remembers life before expat – but has established her childhood abroad. It is going to be tricky on all of us. The hubs is dreading moving back, the colleagues/work ethic/way of life. Me? I’ve been busy trying to live in the here and now, preparing for a move, pre-selling house items and trying to mentally prepare (if that’s even possible) for our repatriation. I’ve finished TCK and other books about expat life and repatriation. Though, I’m certain nothing will truly prepare us. I have already experienced the entire 1st paragraph that you’ve written here. I wonder, why? Why won’t people ask? Oh, I’m sorry – I’m basically blogging a comment. Thank you! Thank you for this post!

    1. Thanks for commenting and sharing! You seem to have prepared though, and even just being aware of potential issues connected to moving “home” and TCKs will aid you on your new adventure! When it comes to the question of people not asking about your expat life; I don´t know! I should probably make that a new blog post, and then we might get some revealing feedback!

      1. This is the first time i’ve seen any blog by a Nigerian touch on being a TCK. I am one, that’s why i tag myself mutricultulal because my nationality alone is not enough to describe the range of influences i’ve grown up with. When i started my blog, i thought i’d focus a lot on my TCK experience but it didn’t work out like that. Maybe that’ll be for another blog. It’s true there are all those benefits you listed to being a TCK/ATCK but they don’t come automatically. In my experience, they come at the point at which you are able to reach a resolution of many identity and relational issues but getting there is not easy. For me, finding out about TCKs has been part of the process because for the first time in my life, i started to understand things about myself and the way i react to situations that i didn’t before. I always just thought it was me that was weird or different. It was a huge relief to find other people like me. Reading some of their stories felt like reading about myself and brought me great comfort. I think it’s great that you’re aware of TCKs. That knowledge will be really useful in helping your kids as they grow into their expat lives.

      2. Thanks for all the information! I’d never heard of the term TCK brfoee. I do agree that they are most likely living separate lives, and that getting together with other kids with similar experiences would be very helpful and encouraging for them. It’s so great that many are bilingual as well!–Christine, visiting from VB

    2. We are from Puerto Rico living in NYC, and it is true that we have our own cumsots that we bring from our country and the children are exposed not only to my home country cultures but to the new american traditions that they are being exposed to at school. I also apreciate a lot all the differnt other cultures that we are exposed to by being in this country and I like to teach my children to be appreciative of ALL different cultures and be respectful of all cumsots from other countries. Thanks for doing this website for people like us living in a world of multi cultural experiences.Following from Voiceboks. Great site

    3. My children are kind of TCK. They’ve grown up in the US and now we’ve moved to the Philippines, but since this is my home culutre they adapted rather quickly. But I do look forward to exploring other parts of Asia with them…getting immersed into different culutres will definitely expand ones horizon!

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