Quite often I hear TCKs say, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” But each time I hear that phrase, I swallow a lump in my throat, and it sinks like a stone to the pit of my stomach. I feel like I’m failing at being a happy Christian. Why can’t I say those words?
A year abroad, in my experience, is definitely not the idealised study break everyone assumes. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
So what happens if you want to learn a language, but don’t live in a country or community where it’s widely spoken? Where do you even start?
My struggle has moved away from questions of identity into uncharted territory for the TCK: staying put.
It isn’t easy to adjust to a new language and new culture. You will make mistakes and mess up. But the important thing is to remember those are natural things.
“There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humour.”
We International school kids are a community of our own. We have our own culture – a product of the east meeting the west.
Culture shock can rear its head in the form of loneliness, tiredness, isolation, homesickness, withdrawal, irritability…the list goes on.
My name is Stephen Black, and I grew up in the bush in Nigeria.
This might not be the last place you live in. Give yourself the opportunity to live more experiences and see more places. Don’t build boundaries; be open, because life changes, and you will change with it.