Tag Archives: tck

Growing up in Sweden

Growing up in Sweden

What does it mean to be a child in Sweden? Growing up in Sweden has many benefits.

Learn about school and vacation, family and leisure time, culture, hobbies and joining a club. What is Swedish children’s literature and do all parents work? Is there a support system for the young and how many children really play an instrument?

www.sweden.se shares the full story on Growing up in Sweden.


What is a TCK – a Third Culture Kid?

What is a TCK – a Third Culture Kid?

“A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his
or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.” Third Culture Kids – Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. van Reken

Origin of term TCK

Sociologists Ruth Hill Useem and John Useem coined the term “Third Culture”, in the 1950s. They spent a year in India with the purpose of studying Americans living and working there. After having met not only expatriates from the US they noticed that the lifestyles of the expatriates differed from home and host cultures. It made up a culture of its own, shared by other expats. Useems labeled culture of origin as first culture, the host culture the second and the “shared commonalities of those living internationally mobile lifestyle” as the third culture (p 14, Third Culture Kids – David C. Pollock and Ruth E. van Reken, 2009). While John Useem focused on the adults Ruth Hill Useem took an interest in the young expatriates. She referred to them as Third Culture Kids.


You know you’re a TCK when …

You know you’re a TCK when …

Most people who are TCKs are unaware of it. I constantly stumble over new twitter connections revealing they have just found out about Third Culture Kids and that they actually are one – or rather ATCK – Adult Third Culture Kid. It is very often followed by a sigh of relief; that’s why I’m me! When I talk about TCKs in my workshops I rarely meet people who are familiar with the term; even though they are expats.

Three days ago I found an article on the funny yet true side of the TCK story – 31 statements along the line “You know you’re a TCK when …” . Tons of posts and pages of this kind can be found on the Internet, but this post is really worth sharing!

I tweeted it, put it on Facebook and Google+. Here is the link if you’ve missed it!

Feel free to add in the comments if you think of more signs!!


To queue or not to queue – that’s not a question; that’s cultural habit.

Queuing is special in Sweden. If you feel Swedes are being distant and you want some physical closeness – join the lines for the ATMs. There you will find it. Even when it is your turn to withdraw the money you can be sure of having someone behind you, just an inch away. I have never seen the painted lines on the ground here, marking the private zone. Not sure it would help though. Why? I keep thinking it’s because in Sweden queuing might not have been practiced enough. In our culture there is usually always queue numbers. You can use this system for buying the softest prosciutto and tasty cheddar, for getting tampons and ibuprofen, for that annoying bank and post matters, for the weekly white tulips, for the cardamom laden cinnamon rolls, for that hot new too expensive dress and for inquiring about the cost of traveling to a far away resort. Not long ago it was also used for buying chardonnay. There is simply a system telling you when it is your turn.

What happens when another check out counter opens up in the grocery store in Sweden? Usually the last person in line for the already open one runs to the newly opened counter. This is apparently not a question of who has been waiting the longest, but of who is the fastest runner. I have to admit I never really thought about this until I expatriated to the US. There it was always the next in the existing waiting line that was served by the new counter. No exceptions. Once a man behind me darted out of the line and went for the new check out. The sales girl said with an icy, stern voice (think about immigrant control at an American airport and you get the picture) “Sir, I said NEXT IN LINE pls.” Don’t think he ever dared to shop there again.

On the other hand I have seen yet other systems. Let me mention to you when I tried to get lunch at a much known hamburger/fast food chain in Turin, Italy. It was like going to a rock concert where the counter would be the stage. Oh, did I mention I had a toddler and a giant (robust thank God) Swedish stroller with a hungry baby in it? Imagine trying to squeeze the stroller and the kids through the masses of hungry teenagers shouting their orders in loud, beautiful Italian. And then back out again after what seemed an eternity. I wish I could say it was the best burger I’ve had. At least it was the most memorable.


Umbrellas are not for mothers #12

Being back. A repatriate getting reacquainted with the Swedish winter.

I hated it. Constant rain. Wind. The dark. You couldn´t walk from the house to the car without being soaked. Had it only been snow.

Being a mom you know you might as well throw your umbrella away. There are never any hands left to hold one anyway. Besides, umbrellas doesn´t really work here on the windy west coast where the rain actually comes down sideways.

I was so frustrated I could scream. Thinking of it I most probably did. Once.

It rained to the extent that the front door of our house was ruined. It rained so much I discovered a product called “rain cover for infant car seats”. Great.

Leave our pancakes alone!

As I´m making pancakes for dinner I think about how this is one of the easy dishes that has followed us around the world. No matter where we have lived there has always been milk, flour and eggs for pancakes. We almost always make the thin ones. Sometimes a thick version in the oven, and occasionally American with baking powder. You say the word and everyone has their own perception of the dish in their mind. In Switzerland I remember inviting an American family over for an afternoon playdate. I made pancakes. Oh, the disappointment in the eyes of the visiting boys as we sat down to eat. Their mother tried desperately to explain how exciting it would be to try Swedish pancakes. But no. It just wasn´t their kind of pancake. To them the relocation to Europe was probably enough at the time. “Leave our pancakes alone!”  #TCK

Do you know we use pancake in some Swedish idiomatic expressions ? Literal translations follows.

Luxury pancakes

Upp som en sol ner som en pannkaka – Up like a sun down like a pancake

Himmel och pannkaka – Heaven and pancake

Det blir bara pannkaka av alltihop – It will all just be pancake

Marsch pannkaka! – Off you go, pancake!