Perks of Being a World Traveler
In honor of one my daughters’ and my favorite books/movies in recent years, Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, I’ve penned (keyed?) a title similar to his for this installment of TCK Talk. The title, the book, the movie, especially Patrick, portrayed by the enigmatic, charasmatic Ezra Miller, and the sharing of the experience with people I care about, puts me in a great place, a comfort zone, a feeling of all being good in the world. And so does looking at many of the positives that come with the Third Culture Kid lifestyle. Because there are many. And, as sometimes can be the case in a world that can stress the negative and trivialize the beauty in the little things, we may not focus on these enough. So just a few of the pluses to sustain us and help us to remember some of the experiences we are so fortunate to have; to pay homage to the book once again, the windy, alive, soaring through a tunnel to the tune of a haunting song, “infinite”, moments that are a fortunate perk that go along with being a world traveler.
1. The Actual World Travel – My daughters have enjoyed tip-toeing through tulips in their birth country of Holland, track meets in the home of the Olympics, Greece, sleeping and shivering on a bed block of ice in a Swedish Ice Hotel, swooshing down the Alps on school ski trips, Speech and Debate and Knowledge Bowl victories in Moscow, and so many other incredible experiences it would take a novel to write them all. And another thing people may misinterpret when Third Culture Kids are sharing their experiences, this is not bragging; this is counting blessings.
2. Living Different Cultures – Between the experience of living in a different culture, and going to school at an international school with over 50 cultures represented, we have had the privilege and pleasure of living a variety of different cultures. In Holland, for example, my daughters were brought into the world in an out-patient program that had us in the hospital for a matter of hours, before returning to the comfort of our own home. This included the incredible support of a government provided nurse who helped with hands-on advice and service for a week, making us “experts” (at least in the basics like bathing and diaper changing) before leaving us to parent on our own.
This month marks the opening of the Viennese Christkindlesmarkten, or markets in honor of the Christmas season. It’s time for a traditional hot, spiced, Gluehwein and browsing the stalls for traditional gifts like tin ornaments or carved wooden figures.
One of my all-time favorite memories of this lifestyle is captured on a birthday party video, as my youngest daughter blew out the candles, and a mini U.N. gathered around the table, broke into birthday song greetings in German, Dutch, French, Italian, Chinese (I may be missing a language here), each taking a turn to wish birthday greetings in their unique way. This up close and personal sharing of other cultures is a daily, and often taken-for-granted privilege, the benifits of which can’t be measured. And that birthday song image is a nice segue to number three…
3. Language Learning- In a world that gets smaller all the time with technology connecting countries and continents that used to know nothing about each other, it can certainly be a perk to have an extra language, or more, in your skill set. Yes, we are fortunate that English is an often-used and widely spoken language around the globe, but being conversant or fluent in other languages is certainly a sought-after skill in today’s global world. Not to mention all the funny stories regarding miscommunication that abound, and the perk Third Culture Kids get of correcting and making fun of their less-fluent parents’ vocab and pronunciation.
At the risk of going from blog to book, I’m going to stop here, with the plan of coming back to this topic in future musings. There are loads of perks to being world travelers, and when some of the challenges and struggles come up, it can be helpful to keep some of these in mind. A trip through family scrapbooks, postcards, or souvenirs can be a great place to go when we are faced with challenges, feeling blue, or otherwise needing a reminder of how great this life can be. In this way, Third Culture Kids can also become adept at another type of travel, taking a sometimes needed walk, through tulip fields or Christmas Markets, down memory lane.
Please feel free to comment or send any personal perks you might have! Thanks!