Welcome home, and to the pages of my blog, to my oldest daughter who recently completed her first year of college. I thought it might be informative for her to provide some insights into her experience as a Third Culture Kid returning from a successful year of college to the world she left behind. And she was kind enough to welcome the collaboration. Many thanks to my guest blogger and welcome “home” to all the returning College TCKs!
Every student, college or otherwise, looks forward to summer. After the rush of assignments due before the end of the semester and the dread that accompanies finals, summer vacation comes as a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the school year. Summer is a time to relax, enjoy the warm weather, and, in the case of many college students, reconnect with old high school friends who have returned to their hometown after the academic year. For Third Culture Kids, this “homecoming” can be decidedly more complicated.
After finishing my first year of college, I looked forward to coming home to Vienna, but quickly realized that, while the city hasn’t changed, it no longer houses many of my closest friends from high school. The nomadic lifestyle of many families living outside of their passport countries doesn’t come to a halt when their kids go to college, and as a result, only a small fraction of my graduating class will even be returning to Vienna this summer. Many have new “hometowns” as a result of the rest of their family relocating.
With my friends from high school scattered across the globe from Virginia to Australia, Vienna doesn’t quite seem like the same place. I miss being able to walk down the street to my best friend’s house and spend the day watching movies and I doubt the new inhabitants would be as welcoming of my company as his family was. I miss walking to Schafbergbad with another friend and spending the day swimming and trying not to get a sunburn. I can’t ride the 35a bus without being reminded of the people who used to live at certain stops along the route, many of whom have left Vienna for good. Vienna as I knew it was inextricably bound with my relationships with these people, and being “home” without all of my classmates is more than a little disorienting.
That being said, this summer is an opportunity not only to spend time with a few of my close friends from high school, but to get to know some of my fellow AISV alums who I maybe wouldn’t have hung out with otherwise. It’s a chance to get closer to my family, find a job, meet new people, and rediscover my city.