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.
Most people have a home base, usually it’s the house/area/state that they grew up in, where their parents live, and where most of their friends also call home. Because I moved around a lot, I defined “home” by the people I surrounded myself with.
My Home Around the World
During my toddler years, moving around didn’t affect me that greatly because I was too young to understand the impact moving can have on a person. All I cared about was eating, playing, and sleeping. It didn’t matter too much to me that I had to leave my friends because as long as I had my family, I was happy. When my family first arrived in Thailand in 1999, I thought, “This isn’t home.” I continued to refer to Singapore as my home because that was where I had the most memories and where I had lived the longest. However, it wasn’t long before I became accustomed to living in Thailand.
Life was simple as an elementary school kid. My daily routine consisted of going to school, playing with friends, coming back home and repeating it again the next day. As a little kid, there isn’t much you need to feel content with life. It didn’t take long for me to call Thailand my home.
It became my home because of the many years I lived there (12 years), the friends I made and the surroundings that impacted my daily life. It’s where I grew up and where I went through my awkward teenage years.
After I moved to the US, it was interesting trying to explain where my “home” was to people who didn’t know my background. I would say Taiwan or Thailand or both. It just depended on how much I was in the mood to explain my whole life story to people. Interestingly enough, the US started to become my home as well. I met many of my very good friends in the US and experienced new things that became my norm. Thailand began to feel less like home especially after I moved back to Taiwan because most of my friends had either moved back to their home countries or were living in other countries.
Now that I’m back in Taiwan, I feel at home but also not really at the same time. Yes my mom is here and yes I have family here but as an independent adult, my support system and social life consists of more than just family. To be quite honest, I don’t have that many friends here I can rely on or hang out with. That has been a big struggle for me. When you’re adjusting to a new environment and a new life, it’s tough when you haven’t quite connected with anyone.
I remember when I first came moved back to Taiwan, I missed the US and my life there. As time passed, I’ve grown to enjoy the life that Taiwan has to offer. I still miss my home away from home though. I know that someday I’ll be able to go back again. But for right now, I will continue to build my life in Taiwan and hopefully finally feel like home.
Where did you grow up and what’s your definition of home? I’d love to know!
Check out other posts in our Third Culture Kid Diaries series!