Being a third culture kid (TCK) in Australia

I’ve never really thought deeply about my background and the country I “really” belong to, up until now. After becoming an Australian citizen though, I started thinking-“what way of life do I follow?” and “why the term third culture kid closely relates with me?” Find out more about it below.

What is a third culture kid, you may ask?

Well, Third culture kids (TCK) are ones raised in a culture or country other than that of their parents. As a result of this, they are often exposed to a wider variety of cultural influences and in most cases, a sense of confusion or cultural shock as they start their new life in a different culture/location or continent.

A new country, a new way of living

We have all been there, haven’t we? The nervousness and anxiety when we start a new year at school or when we join a new workplace. How will the people be? Will I make new friends? How will I stay away from home and family?

Well, moving countries gives you the same anxiety (on a much larger scale). You have to start living amidst a new culture, change or modify the kind of food you eat, you might even change the way you speak ( over time). Over the years, you start imbibing the new culture to the old one you followed and become a new person altogether.

I am a first generation migrant that has now made Australia her home. Australia, a country that is blessed with diverse population and cultures. Just like me, there are millions of people from UK, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, China, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many many more nations. This has led to an explosive variety of food and cultures, that are way different from what I have been grown up with.

How I got introduced with the term TCK

I only truly understood what being a third culture kid/ person is, until I moved to Australia after my marriage. After having lived 30 odd years in India and having being brought up by my Kenyan born mother and Indian born dad- I already had a unique blend of experiencing both cultures/ food and rituals. And now, since the last 7 years I have been slowly and steadily learning the Australian way of life. It’s amazing how beautifully these 3 countries have amalgamated themselves in my daily life.  I have come to realize that it isn’t really a bad thing to be a third culture kid and it can be very rewarding, inspite of all the cultural confusions and awkward conversation from strangers.

Am I Australian?

Growing up in India, the only image I had of “Australian’s” was the typical white skinned, blonde hair variety. After settling in Australia though, I was pleasantly happy to see that there is so much to Australians than what I had in my mind. Yet, there was a sense of confusion that crept over me the moment someone asked me, “where are you from?” In case you’re wondering, I look like a typical Indian with brown skin and black hair, but you could also confuse me with an Asian. So there I was, an Australian-Indian with a Kenyan birth, trying to be able to answer that question in one word.

Where do I really feel at home?

If you ask me which country do I really feel at home, I will be at a loss of words on what to answer you.

Kenya is a country that gives me the best summer holiday memories with grandparents and cousins, a country where I have a major chunk of my maternal family.

India on the other hand- a country I stayed for around 30 years, a country that gave me my childhood memories, education ( from schooling to graduation) and the country and culture that fuelled my love for travel and ethnic food.

Australia, the country I now live in is special in more ways than one even though I  have been here only 7 years. It is the country where I found myself, my independence and growth (mental and emotional). The country that allowed me to spread my wings and do what I truly enjoyed doing. No judgements! I am also ever grateful to Australia for introducing me to wide array of cultures and people. I love being able to interact with and eat/ buy anything from Vietnamese to Chinese to Pakistani to Turkish to Italian.  Yes, there are stray cases of racism that exist in Australia but I am proud that I am making a difference by fighting it ( in my small little ways). I have been actively involved with anti racism organisations and companies that actively help and support CALD ( Culturally and linguistically diverse) communities around Australia in the past and hope to do the same in the future too. I truly love being able to mix my passion and talents to help causes that  I feel strongly about- incredibly grateful to Australia for giving me that!

Author: nisreenakolawala

I am a former Architect who left her career to follow her heart and passion, which involves travelling, photography and Social media marketing. I have stayed in a rustic village of Eastern Himalayas, swum with colorful fishes and corals in Fiji, lived with gypsy Banni villagers in Western India, interacted with Kenya’s Masai tribe, river rafted in the freezing cold river in Ladakh, lived and explored a quaint beach town of Tanga in Tanzania, took a 48 hour camel safari in the Thar desert of Rajasthan, sailed on a felucca on the mighty Nile river in Egypt and chilled with the Kangaroo’s in Australia. Needless to say I am always adding more experiences and places to the list.