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  • Clara

Life as a third culture kid.

Let's face it, life isn't perfect. Not all people are inherently good, not all places are safe to live in. Our lives don’t fall into either black or white falling somewhere in the middle. I am a prime example of this falling into the middle of two cultures becoming a third culture kid.

You may not have heard this term before. So What is a third culture kid? When you grow up in one culture and move to another this creates a third culture kid. These two original cultures mashed together forms a new and unique experience. The thing is that you never really feel at peace with either of these cultures. Your origin always seems so out of reach it's close but you can never pinpoint its exact location. In my case I'm from South Africa, a place where we are literally seen as a rainbow nation, a collection of different races, people and ethnicities and yet even though I come from such a place I am never seen as truly South African.

Moving at a young age split the connection between me and my heritage. Due to the nature of assimilating into a new country, I gradually changed my food preferences for one of a more English taste plate to create similarities between me and my peers. The accent which coated every word slowly lessened, becoming replaced by one more European. Being pushed out of my mouth my accent changed from being powerful, able to turn heads to one of a diminished flame only flickering when I become flustered, angry or show any exaggerated emotion. The length of my thesaurus grew as I opted to express myself using more stereotypical English terms, for example trainers instead of tekkies. I thought that if I sounded, looked and had similar hobbies as the rest of my peers the teasing would stop and I would be accepted. However, like life not everything went as planned.

Changing my own self did nothing but isolate me from my previous home. You can try to copy others but you will never be an individual that way. Little girls are ruthless when they haven't developed their filter. Even if my accent had changed it did not disappear completely no matter how hard I tried. The way people acted, talked and traversed their everyday life was new to me and even if I made myself a replica of them I would never be the original.

At the same time the quality which I tried to copy and learn became the sole reason for my isolation. You see those unfamiliar qualities were not only unfamiliar to me but to my previous family, friends and country. Those same attributes which changed my status from tourist to somewhat local in my new country striped me of the title of a local back home. Due to the fact that I meshed those qualities with my being there was no off switch making the way I acted, spoke and ate foreign to my previous home.

At the end of this I no longer had a place I could call home. No place where i truly felt understood. Each place tried to understand me but the unique experience was one that no one else could relate to. Sure I could call either of them my home but that did not change the little voice in the back of my head who constantly reminded me just how foreign I was and how foreign I will be.


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