Growing up abroad is an incredible start to life. Experiencing new cultures, different people, food, sights, sounds and smells at such a young age provides you with a rich childhood full of excitement. This unique start has even gained its own term of ‘third culture’. According to our 2014 Expat Explorer survey, 62% of expats feel a strong connection with their new home, for expat children home can mean identifying with a variety of cultures (for more on third culture, read the post here). If this sounds like you, see if our top five symptoms of growing up abroad sound familiar:
No-one has the same childhood memories
While people sit around and avidly discuss their favourite childhood memories to responses of ‘I remember that!’ the conversation isn’t quite as clear cut for you. Whether it’s a favourite cartoon that was only shown in the Middle East, a treat that you can only buy in Asia or a different style of schooling, your eclectic mix of childhood passions is never quite the same as anyone else’s.
Image Source: Pixabay/alberto15886
Holiday is actually a trip back to another ‘home’
Most children dream of holidays to Disneyland. This may still have been the case for you, but in reality the real excitement in holidays lay in trips back to the other ‘home’. Catching up with family and friends was all the holiday entertainment you needed while resorts gave way to visiting relatives in far flung destinations. No-on else quite understands how a dose of everyday life in your old home was so much fun!
Image Source: Pixabay/ skipp604
Calling a friend ‘local’ if they still lived in the same continent
Everyone speaking the same language at the table? Everyone born in the same country? The notion of having friends from one area is alien to you having grown up with a global network of pals, and learnt to maintain relationships with letters, emails and video calling. Friends no longer have to be seen every day or live down the road to occupy a place in your heart. You are so used to friends being all over the world, that being in the same continent, never mind the same country feels ‘close’ to you.
Image Source: Pixabay/cherylholt
Fast food is not universal
Most people assume your standard Fast Food is universal, you know this not to be true. Take the humble hamburger. In Japan it may contain shrimp, in Switzerland can include a sausage, in Australia it will be made from lamb with a slice of beetroot on top whilst in New Zealand it will be accompanied with egg. Indian burgers can contain paneer cheese whilst the bap is replaced by rice in parts of Asia. It’s a good thing expats enjoy the variety, with 72% noting that they enjoy local food.
Image Source: Pixabay/kgberlin
Why waste time that could be spent exploring?
While some may be happy to let weekends and evenings pass in a lazy haze, you seize any opportunity to appreciate your surroundings. The life of an expat isn’t always certain, so you want to see as much of the incredible country you are in whilst you are there. From seeing the typical tourist traps, to uncovering the local’s favourites, there is always plenty to be seen and experienced.
Image Source: Flickr/ Dave O
If you weren’t a third culture child yourself, but you are raising your children as expats kids, never fear. While they may miss out on the occasional ‘childhood memories’ chat, there is plenty to be gained. Having experienced so much at such an early age is a blessing and is thought to lead to well-rounded and insightful individuals.
Share your unique experiences from growing up abroad with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).