The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

What does 'TCK - Third Culture Kid' mean?

Find out what TCK - Third Culture Kid means. TCK - Third Culture Kid is explained by Tina L. Quick - author of The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

TCK - Third Culture Kid

“a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture.” David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken expand the definition by adding, “The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”

Search result for 'TCK ' in The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

"...(1) Repatriating TCKs – If you have been living in a country other than that which is stamped on the cover of your passport and are returning to that country for college or university, you are a repatriating TCK. An American TCK by the name of Rita is such an example. Her family moved to France when she was nine years old and then to India when she was 14. Rita decided to repatriate to the U.S. to attend university after graduation from her international secondary school in India. The repatriating TCK ..."
" their passport culture, I invite those of you with slightly different experiences to apply the principles of each story to your own life as well. While the majority of my examples are taken from TCKs who have repatriated to the U.S, the scenarios are applicable to most any TCK returning to his or her home country. ..."
"...Regardless of which internationally mobile student category you fit in, you not only have the upcoming adjustment to university life to deal with but an added adjustment to a foreign culture. Even if you are a GN/TCK returning to your home country it may be foreign to you in many respects. Through no fault of their own, global nomads often know more about other places, peoples, cultures and languages than they do their own passport country. This can lead to cultural imbalance, identity issues, and being misunderstood ..."
"...This phenomenon is not unique to students who return to the United States or Canada. TCK Jennifer, whose mother is English and father is Zimbabwean, was also raised in Europe but attended a university in the United Kingdom. Jennifer had difficulty relating to her U.K. peers because she saw them as shallow, boring and immature. No one showed any interest in getting to know her on ..."
"...A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ passport culture. The TCK builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background. ..."
"...It was only upon the third reading that it struck me that my name was written all over those pages. I too, am a TCK and I had not fully appreciated how that had impacted my life. I finally understood so many things about myself that I didn’t even have words for before. Known by many as the definitive resource on third culture kids, their book answers the many “how’s” and “why’s” about children in ..."
"...follows is, for you, a much abbreviated foundational session. It is important to remember that when we generalize about a group of people, we cannot speak for the individuals themselves. Everyone is different and may not demonstrate the same traits or tendencies as the majority of the group. The TCK experience can be incredibly enriching for some, a real struggle for others and somewhere in between for still others. ..."
"...Let’s start by going back to Pollock’s expanded TCK definition and look closely at the last phrase: “…the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” Remember what Dr. Useem found in her research – that third culture kids preferred to hang out with kids who had had a similar experience? Libby Stephens from Interaction ..."
"... as the basis for how we live and act as adults. What happens if those rules keep changing because the TCK keeps moving from one culture into another, even if it is from host to home culture and back again? You get it – cultural confusion. - Two Realities of Being a TCK - Pollock and ..."
"... from one culture into another, even if it is from host to home culture and back again? You get it – cultural confusion. - Two Realities of Being a TCK - Pollock and Van Reken definitively state that two basic realities shape the formation of a TCK’s life: 1. They live in a ..."
"...1. They live in a genuinely cross-cultural world. The typical TCK has made many cross-cultural relocations. Right now you may be saying to yourself, “She’s not talking about me. I was born and raised in my host country. It’s the only place I consider home.” But think about it for a minute. Do you not go back to your parents’ passport ..."
"... can be more than one way to look at the same thing ▪ Being good storytellers The highly mobile, international lifestyle of the TCK has other, hidden benefits which serve them well in life such as: - Cross-Cultural Skills - Because many TCKs have been educated alongside children ..."
"... own. - Adaptability - Surviving chronic change can bring resilience. The typical TCK experience means repeatedly having to cope with new situations. This is one reason many TCKs actually manage the university transition better than their home-country peers. - Social Skills - On ..."
"...Sometimes a TCK will admit to and throw the word ‘arrogance’ into the mix. This can be real or perceived. Real arrogance is when they forget that their cross-cultural lifestyle has given them a broader view of the world and they become impatient and even judgmental of others when they can only see ..."
"...with others not familiar with the international lifestyle. These are the only stories they have to tell and they don’t think of them as being so unusual. It is not surprising that TCKs feel more comfortable being with other internationally oriented people who can relate to the places a TCK has been, the food he or she has eaten, or even the airplane and bathroom stories they so enjoy sharing. They too, are “abnormally normal.” ..."
"...Being a TCK is not to be equated with an identity. It does not define who you are. And you are not a victim because you are a TCK. Having led a TCK lifestyle is a beautiful gift as long as you have the knowledge and self-awareness to work positively with it. There ..."
"... Being a TCK is only one part of you. TCKs are not alone in their search for identity which often accompanies the college years. Brent, the quintessential TCK at the beginning of the chapter says this of the identity search and the college experience: - TCKs as a Sub-Group - In her ..."
"...The interesting thing is that children may have a foot in several of these categories. Look again at U.S. President Obama. He is the child of bi-cultural parents, lived as a TCK in Indonesia, and had a parent of a racial minority. It is no surprise that, regardless of the sub-group, CCKs struggle with issues of identity and belonging. ..."

"...Figure 2.1 is fairly autocratic in that it implies you have moved from one place of belonging to another place of belonging or gone from one “home” to another “home.” Any TCK can tell you that is not always necessarily the reality of relocations. Some would argue that TCKs are forever in transition, never truly able to commit to one particular place before they have to pack up again and move to yet another, even if it is just going from host ..."
"... stage. Leslie, the American TCK from Chapter 1 who went through a week-long Transition/Re-entry course tells other repatriating TCKs, “As a result of the training I received I knew what I could expect to feel. I had no problems settling and I love my new school.” That is the ..."

"...If sorting out their personal identity is the greatest challenge TCKs face (see Chapter One), the second is unresolved grief, although most of the time, they may not even realize it. The high mobility lifestyle of a TCK brings with it a lot of loss. I give you a Dave Pollock quote from the TCK book which stuns me every time I read it: ..."
"... depression, isolation and even physical ailments. Such is the story of Brice, a typical TCK. Marie, our TCK who spent a semester abroad sums up good grief in this journal entry: - No Funerals - Life is filled with loss and resulting grief. It can be as serious as a loss of ..."
"...If you feel you are stuck in your grief, seek professional help from a counselor who understands TCKs. There are those times when a TCK/ATCK cannot figure out exactly what their losses are because they have been repeatedly told they should not be so negative. The grief is then so suppressed that they have a difficult time going there on their own. This is when a professional therapist can come alongside them and walk with ..."
" you leave one place has a profound effect on how you enter the next. He developed a model anyone going through transition could use to help them leave well. He used the RAFT acronym for Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Think Destination. He discussed it in detail in the TCK book and I summarize briefly below. ..."

Chapter 4: Fish Out of Water
"...While TCKs transitioning to another country and FSs expect everything to be new and different, all of this can be a real shock to the TCK who has come “home.” You may have expected that you would know your passport country well, but are now finding (or may find) that you feel very much like a foreigner. TCKs are typically more observant than your domestic peers. It is a skill you own, a benefit of ..."
"...stages of culture shock or country shock. When it is experienced upon repatriation it is often referred to as reverse culture shock or re-entry shock. Regardless of the name, the experience is the same whether you are a foreign student entering a first or second host country or a TCK repatriating to your home country. For this reason I prefer to refer to it as transition shock. The difference is that the foreign student expects he or she will have to deal with it while it often takes the repatriate by surprise. ..."
"...That being said, it is worth mentioning that not all counselors are attuned to the issues of third culture kids/global nomads/international students. Some TCKs have reported their student mental health visits were actually counter-productive. As one American TCK who was raised in Europe said, “When my mental health counselor couldn’t even tell me what was wrong with me, I felt completely hopeless – like I was so weird that no one could figure me out. So I thought I must really be screwed up.” ..."

"...I love to tell the story of Sara, a bi-cultural TCK born and raised in Switzerland. She frequently visited both the United States, her father’s passport country and India, her mother’s home. Sara was on the international school’s basketball team that I helped coach with Janneke, my oldest daughter. Each year we took a “road trip” (I use the term ..."
"...some for the first time away from parental influences, will be trying to figure out who they are and what other aspects of themselves lie within. TCKs have the double task of discovering their cultural as well as personal identity. Home-country peers already have a cultural identity whereas the TCK lacks clarity due to the different layering of his or her experiences. Although TCKs may not be able to conceptualize it, they are likely to feel off-balance or out-of-sync as they strive towards adaptation in their new surroundings. ..."
"...Many said they just rattled off a list of the places they had lived because they weren’t certain of what is really meant by ‘where are you from.’ It could be interpreted to mean the passport a TCK travels on, what their nationality is, where their parents are living now or where they grew up. Many TCKs become so frustrated with trying to explain where they are from that they give up. This was the case with Rita from Chapter 1, the American TCK who grew up in ..."
" of belonging TCKs will often develop a migratory instinct that interferes with moving forward in their lives. I see it in the students I work with. Some will transfer from one college to another or change their major over and over again. In fact, several sets of adult TCK (ATCK) research data have shown that as many as one third do not stay at one college long enough to complete their degree. They are more likely to attend three or more colleges and take as long as five to nine years to complete a bachelor’s level degree. Adult TCKs ..."
"...In the U.S. as well as many other countries, it matters how you physically look to the dominant culture. People don’t think about culture, they think about race, about how you look. They want to be able to label you. Jennifer, our bi-racial, bi-cultural TCK at the beginning of this chapter experienced this in the U.K. She had people asking her over and over again about where she was from (something we know is difficult for TCKs to answer). She kept telling them she was from Switzerland but they could not grasp how a racially ..."
"...The hidden immigrant experience doesn’t just happen with re-entry. If you are a FS or TCK going on to another host culture and you look like the dominant culture, you are sure to have the same reactions. An American student going to study in the U.K. will look like the host country culture. The same for a Nigerian going to the U.S. He or she will ..."
"...This is a common complaint among bi-cultural TCKs. They cannot identify with either ethnic group of their heritage. One Asian/American TCK told me she tried participating in the Asian club at her school but was rejected for not being 100% Asian. But she also did not feel 100% American either. After learning that she was a TCK and actually did belong to a group – the TCK tribe – she became ..."
"...1) who attended a Transition /Re-entry Seminar, all of the TCKs I have interviewed and spoken with over the years while preparing to write this book had not received any kind of preparation before returning to their passport culture. Many of them were not even familiar with the term TCK or global nomad. My purpose in writing this book is so that you will not have the negative experiences these students did. Knowledge is power. You are likely to experience the different stages of transition, and you may or may not be able to put the name on the stage, ..."
"...Things happen all the time that take us by surprise. Remember the water fountain story? I laugh at another story an ATCK tells of landing back in the US and heading off to her university in the western part of the country. After a very long bus ride into what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, the passengers stopped for a rest only to be met by riders on horseback…gobs of ..."
"...At one of my “Transitioning Successfully for University” seminars, a student asked the question, “How long does it take to get through the transition cycle?” So we directed it to an ATCK graduate student who often speaks at my workshops about her own personal experiences. Her response and many students concur, is that the first term at college or university is spent trying to find your way around, figuring out how everything works, and making sure you have all you need in ..."

"...In almost any discussion with TCKs the subject of relationships comes up over and over again. It is a feature on chat room discussions at as well as in any casual or formal TCK get-togethers. Relationships are an important part of our lives. We thrive on the sense of belonging which results from connecting and interacting with others. Understanding some of the issues that surround TCK relationships will shed some light on why it is such a hot topic. ..."
"...The above analogy was given to me by a bi-national TCK who was born in and spent her lifetime in her father’s passport country but was attending college in the country of her mother’s passport, very near to where her maternal grandparents lived. She left behind a lot of history including a serious relationship she chose to end before leaving. She ..."
"...I have a life motto I have learned to live by through all of my family’s transitions that I would regularly share with others and remind my children of: “If you are not having fun, it’s your own darn fault.” One hard-liner TCK makes her own rendition of it by saying, “If you’re not settling in, it’s your own fault.” While she is trying to say that you are responsible for making the adjustment and that it is necessary to take some risks to do it, she also concedes to the fact that ..."
"... until we had been in the U.S. for over two years that she started getting phone calls and invitations to “hang out.” This is an example of a typical TCK scenario: Hi! You must be new. You’re in my biology class with Mr. Stone. I think he is soooo boring. Don’t you think so? I can ..."
"...if there is going to be a connection. So they put themselves out there and share something with you about themselves so that you will share something in return. If they sense the connection, a friendship has begun and you are invited to hang out. This is how the TCK scenario looks: ..."
"...When a TCK tries this scenario for making friends among their domestic peers, there is usually some unfortunate fall-out. Because TCKs want information about others before they will hang out with them, they tend to give away “too much information” about themselves in the beginning. Their domestic peers don’t always respond well to ..."
"...It doesn’t take long before you get the non-verbal cues that people are bored with your stories because they are too incredible to grasp or as one TCK shared, “They don’t know what to do with the information.” She explained that her university peers would always come and ask her what it was like to have lived in Singapore. So she would respond to their questions. Once their curiosity was satisfied, they had no clue where to ..."
"...get to know you. They really are not trying to be disrespectful or ignorant when they say things like, “So did you ride on water buffalo to get around Nepal?” or even (and this actually does happen) “So what language do they speak in Switzerland – Swedish?” One indignant TCK from Switzerland recalls an exchange with an English peer that forced her to just walk away without responding. She was asked if her beloved country was an island! Take a deep breath and remember this is how non-traveled peers try to connect with TCKs. They are not trying to ..."
"...complete opposite of what they really intend to convey. While in generations past, sarcasm was employed to tease, ridicule, make fun of or scoff at someone, young people today use it in many cases to make fun of themselves. As with Brent, these remarks are often misconstrued by the TCK as others making fun of him or her. ..."
"... drink, and what they do for fun. These are all very cultural issues and worth finding out what the differences are. One Tufts University TCK says of International Orientation: “To do the regular orientation with everyone else is too overwhelming. There is too much going on to integrate. ..."
"...We’ve already discussed a few possibilities like attending your school’s International Orientation where you will meet other people in the same cross-cultural situation as you, but you may also meet other TCKs at I.O., particularly if it is a large school. You may even meet a TCK who doesn’t even realize he or she is one. That might become evident if he or she has trouble answering the “Where are you from?” question. Or you might also ask students you meet if they have ever lived anywhere else. What a great icebreaker it is to say, “Oh, ..."
"... they have ever lived anywhere else. What a great icebreaker it is to say, “Oh, you’re like me. Did you realize you are a TCK?” - TCK Communities - Campus TCK communities are a rapidly growing phenomenon. TCKs are beginning to understand the need to find and/or build their own ..."
"... Campus TCK communities are a rapidly growing phenomenon. TCKs are beginning to understand the need to find and/or build their own communities on their campuses. Universities like Lewis and Clark have had such communities for some time now. Others are just beginning to look seriously at how they can better support this ..."
" help TCKs connect with other TCKs and start their own communities or join over 50 local groups from Taiwan to Colorado, meeting monthly for coffee and various activities. As with any group of people you find yourself interacting with, you may not like everyone you meet in your TCK group, but you will definitely have something in common with them. ..."
"...most likely be able to find an online community already established for kids that have shared your particular lifestyle. For instance the military has which has blogs, chats, forums and friend finding features, and the missions sector has and which lists the colleges who have started TCK communities. See the resources section at the end of this chapter for more online communities and the possibility of starting up your own campus community. Invite your domestic friends to a TCK community gathering so they can see what the draw is and perhaps gain a better understanding of you ..."

"... the impetus for Dr. Timmons publishing the rubric so other TCPs, including you, could take advantage of it too. - TCK Identity Development - Remember the story of my middle daughter, Katrina, whose first English homework assignment back in the U.S. was to write about who ..."
"...I was so struck with Dr. Schaetti’s TCK identity development model (adapted in part from William E. Cross Jr.’s seminal research on identity development), I feel compelled to share it with every TCK and ATCK I meet. It is so profound and yet the concept is so simple, I feel that every TCK needs to hear and understand ..."
"... and among many different groupings that come into your conscious awareness gives meaning to who you know yourself to be. - The TCK Identity Development Model - I was recently speaking with Carla, a bi-cultural ATCK who had spent the first seven years of her life living in Peru. Her ..."
"...I was recently speaking with Carla, a bi-cultural ATCK who had spent the first seven years of her life living in Peru. Her mother was an American and her father was an Italian who was born and raised in Peru. He spent one year of his life as a small child living in his father’s hometown in Italy learning ..."
"... Florence and I have maintained that connection with language and culture.” We will follow Carla on her identity development as we look at the five stages of Dr. Schaetti’s TCK Identity Development Model: 1) Pre-encounter 2) Encounter 3) Exploration 4) Integration 5) Recycling - ..."
" find out why he couldn’t fit in anywhere. He had never heard the terms ‘third culture kid’ or ‘global nomad’. He got on the computer and came across articles about kids that had led the same kind of life he had. That’s when he read up on the TCK profile and discovered that he had been harboring unresolved grief to the point of becoming filled with pain. ..."
" in Carla’s subsequent trips to Peru and Italy. Once TCKs understand who they are and how their international life experience has shaped them, they have achieved congruence (harmony). Dr. Schaetti says that people in Integration are comfortable with being different from their home-country peers. At this point the TCK will either embrace his or her life experiences and use them to strengthen his or her success or he or she will discard them as being irrelevant. ..."
"...were introduced to the terms ‘global nomad’ and ‘third culture kid’ while still living overseas, or were introduced to the terms upon repatriation via re-entry training. She mentions that even if a term such as ‘military brat’, ‘oil brat’ or ‘missionary kid’ was used in place of the TCK or GN term, these children at least had a notion that there was something special about their way of growing up. Knowing there is terminology for kids who have lived their lifestyle helps to validate the feelings and experiences they have had. It says to them, “You are right ..."

"...This quote reveals one of the factors that led to the depression that our TCK case study Brent (from Chapter 1) suffered during his first years at college. Quite frequently students, not just internationals, end up feeling small, incompetent or not up to the challenge once they hit college. This could be the student who came from a small school and is now at a ..."
"...One eager TCK says she likes the flexibility of signing up for an extra class, knowing full well she can drop it if it proves to be dull or too much work. This strategy allows her to find out quickly what courses interest her and which ones don’t. Since in the U.S. students ..."
"...nationalities, ethnicities and races, is the discrimination that is sometimes seen on college campuses. TCKs are comfortable with diversity and thrive in mixed social settings. It can be disappointing, frustrating and infuriating to witness or be the target of discrimination. But remember that the skills you have from your TCK experiences make you good ambassadors. You may be able to build bridges to conquer the ideas that foster separateness on your campuses. Many schools are working hard to celebrate and learn from diversity and have student groups that lead the efforts. ..."
"... mutually set rules with your roommate will help both of you remember and stick to them. Jennifer, our British/African TCK from Chapter 1 has some comments on her experience with setting boundaries: - Drugs, Sex, Rock ’n’ Roll! - Authors Coburn and Treeger in Letting Go – A ..."
"...A few words on the college dating scenes are in order. As with many other things, dating appears very much to be cultural. One European-raised, American TCK likes to compare dating styles around the globe. She feels that in Europe young men and women are not afraid of relationships. There is an appreciation for romance. She says even if the dating couple realizes there are no sparks between them, the young man remains attentive and polite to ..."
"... Lastly, go to a very public place for your first few dates like a restaurant, movie theater or coffee shop. Have fun exploring together. - TCK Concerns - Now let’s go back to those TCK issues and dating. Remember that because you are skilled at listening and asking appropriate questions ..."
"...Now let’s go back to those TCK issues and dating. Remember that because you are skilled at listening and asking appropriate questions people may misunderstand and think your genuine interest in getting to know them as a person is a sign of romantic interest. TCKs who have gone before you suggest that you make it very clear ..."

"...While your TCK is in the “Exploration” stage of identity development, the question of nationality typically pops up. While the country of their parents is stamped on the front of their passports, it doesn’t really sing to them. Their host country may feel more like “home” to them. Children don’t understand when their ..."


"This wonderful book appears six months too late, as my TCK son has recently gone to university and he and..."

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