Third Culture Kid Diaries: The Struggle Between Family and Living Abroad

Annie explores her childhood as a third culture kid (TCK) to understand how it shaped her mindset as an adult. There’s a lot to unpack here: born in Taiwan, grew up in Thailand, went to an international school, went to college in Boston, and now lives in Taiwan. Read other pieces she wrote as a TCK here.

When I was young, my family used to take big trips with our extended family on my dad’s side in Taiwan. But as we grew older, everyone became too busy with school, life, and work. Growing up, I only got to visit my extended family once or twice a year during holidays so it was always a fun time when I saw my cousins again. Having a close family bond is really important to me. But recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how difficult it is for me to find the balance between being close to family and living/working abroad.

As a third culture kid, I am accustomed to traveling, so it’s in my nature to want to leave home and experience other countries. Since I was young, I thought it would be awesome to live in the US. Maybe it was the movies I watched or my first time there in eighth grade on a super cool space camp trip that gave me a good impression. While attending college in the US, I grew to enjoy the way of life there. Everything just seemed to click for me and I was enjoying life. However, the one downside to moving all the way across the world by myself was I didn’t have my family support. That was probably one of the toughest things I had to get used to, especially during Thanksgiving when all my other friends had families to go home to. I would fly back home once a year because plane tickets were expensive. But every time I had the chance to see my family again, it was like my energy rejuvenated.

Now that I’m back in Taiwan, I’m closer to family which is awesome. Since being back, we started taking our annual family trips again. Last year we went down to Taichung and next week we’re heading east to Yilan. I love trips like these (even though they can be a pain to plan) because it’s one weekend where most of our family can get together and hang out. While being close to family makes me happy, a part of me is also longing to leave. It’s tough to choose between living close to family and pursuing my dreams that aren’t near home.

I have a friend who has a similar issue, but we’re in opposite shoes. Her extended family are back in the US, but she loves living in Taiwan. She also struggles with living far away from many of her family members. To be honest, I haven’t quite figured out how to find the balance between these two things, but I have a feeling it’ll boil down to making a few perspective changes. Maybe not, I don’t really know! I’m still in the process of figuring it out, but that’s just what life’s about.

Are you going through any similar inner struggles? Let me know down in the comments! It’d be comforting to hear from people who are going through something similar. 🙂


Check out other posts in our Third Culture Kid Diaries series!


  • taiwantrailsandtales

    I have a similar situation. I live in Taiwan at the moment because my partner is Taiwanese. In the future we’re thinking about moving to the UK mostly because I feel so bad about missing out on family life. I don’t have a big family, it’s literally just my parents and two sisters, and the more time I spend away from them, the more I realise I want to be near them despite the fact that it would be a lot easier for us to live in Taiwan. For my partner, it’s not so much that she would miss her family since their relationship is somewhat strained, but she feels immense pressure to be a good daughter (which she wouldn’t be if she moved to my home country). It’s definitely tough.

    • restlessfeetadventures

      I can’t imagine how tough it is to choose between two conflicting sides – especially when it comes to being in a relationship with someone from another country/different culture. I hope that you and your partner can figure out what’s best for the both of you. Best of luck! 🙂 -Annie

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