Expat Life for a Third Culture Kid


“A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any.  Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” 

– David C. Pollock

My So-called Ex-pat Life

In just two months we will be celebrating our three year anniversary as an expat family in England.  It seems not so long ago that we were in the US of A, wishing we could be living overseas.  Back then the life we live now seemed so much like a dream.  My husband and sons who were all born stateside had not been to Europe before.  I was not born stateside but had been living in the US for about a decade.  For me as a third culture kid (TCK) who grew up across military bases in Europe I felt lost.  I did not  connect fully to life in America and my nomadic past was slipping further away like another lifetime.  That want and that need to move abroad fueled stronger.  When my husband and I came to a fork in the road we chose to take the chance and move abroad.  With no set jobs, no place to live, and no family in England we started on our Expat adventure.

I nickname the expat series on my blog, ‘My so-called expat life’.  As a TCK, I am continually in that neither-nor world where I do not fully connect to one nationality or country.  It is the same as in my expat life.  Technically I am both a citizen and an expat.  I was born in Oxford to American parents before they changed the citizenship requirements.  Despite having an American accent and having so far spent more time living in Italy, I am a british citizen with an EU passport. Though we have been here nearly three years and I am a citizen, I am still frequently seen and thought of as an American.  It is not a burden by any means but just the truth of being a TCK through adulthood.

What does Expat life mean for TCKs?

There are so many different backgrounds for third culture kids that though you can define a TCK, we can not simply be put neatly into a box.  There are other classmates who I have known through my years of school on military bases who may also connect with life as a TCK.  Though they would not easily be able to return to a place they once lived, no matter how much more they may connect with that place to their parent’s home country.  Through our own experiences I have learned much that I had not known before we left the US.

Passports, Visas, and Permits

We have spent more money than needed on passports and visas in the last three years than we should have due to mistakes.  Make sure to always double check what you read online and never just assume what you hear in one place to be the certain truth.  Keep tabs on expiration dates of passports and visas so that you can be well prepared in advance.  Be aware that rules are often being changed, so be aware. Expat life may seem like a challenge or even a bit scary in the beginning, but it is definitely doable.

Expat Life 2014  Resolutions

My challenge to you. 

Do you stalk travel and expat blogs?  Have you often wondered what life would be like if you packed up your life and moved abroad?  Does your wanderlust list grow longer as time goes by?  If you feel expat life is calling for you, I challenge you to do something about it.  Perhaps you start a conversation with someone who has done it before.  Maybe you seek out employment information in the country to where you want to move.  Or maybe the only thing holding you back now is just doing it.  Where ever you are on your journey to expat life, I urge you to do something.  I have been in place where you feel held back by circumstances and with the voices of those you know who do not share your love for expat life.  Just remember that the choice is ultimately up to you.  If you know where you want to be in life, why wait one more day to start working towards that goal? Live life.

Connect with other Expats 

When you move abroad it can be daunting at times so making friends with fellow expats through sites like expatforum can really make the transition into expat life a lot easier- and who doesn’t like making new friends? Similarly, finding out the right and relevant advice before moving abroad from sites like HiFX who have created a new expat tip page, which I have recently contributed to (see here) is a great way to make sure you get the right advice from expat experts before you make the leap abroad.



Today I really wanted to give a shout out to Elena from Beautiful Hope about her sun filled post at Laguna Beach.  Living in England is great, but I would be lying if I said I missed the sunshine! Find out about her Orange County adventures and more about her travel posts this week!

Now on to the link up! To link up with us, make sure to comment below and with my cohosts Melanie and Tina. Then hop around and share the love and experience more wanderlust from the other participants.  The full details are below and as always, have fun!

Travel Tuesday



1. SHARE a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere! 2. GRAB the lovely button above. If you run into trouble, just make sure to mention Bonnie, Melanie, and Tina in a link! 3. LINKUP goes live every Tuesday at 0800 GMT. Make sure to comment here, on the cohosts blogs, and visit around!



1. Please only one linked up post per blogger. Save other posts for future linkups! 2. The last Tuesday of every month will be a themed prompt if you want to join in! 3. HOP around and meet new travel loving bloggers! Check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!

* Photography custom to Bonnie Rose Photography © 2007 – 2014 All rights reserved | http://www.bonnie-rose.co.uk
  • http://independenttravelcats.com/ Jessica – Independent Travel C

    Almost three years, so many adventures and so much learned! Can’t wait to keep following your adventures.

  • http://lulug1975.blogspot.co.uk/ Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

    Great post Bonnie. So refreshing to hear a personal and honest account of what it’s like being an ex-pat and TCK. Thanks for hosting the link up. x

  • http://www.gutenblogyall.com/ Margo

    Thanks for sharing Bonnie – I don’t have kids yet but this good to know for when the time comes. I never really thought too much about what kind of upbringing (TCK) they’d have if we stayed here in Germany. Also, I haven’t visited this expta forum yet and am excited to check it out. I love meeting other expats. :)

  • Phoebe Thomas

    I can so relate to your story having been brought up by diplomatic traveling parents. I’ve lived in 9 countries, have 2 passports, born in a 3rd country and don’t feel I belong to anywhere, and yet feel at home everywhere. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Great tips by the way.

  • Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault

    Another expat here although a rather less complicated one – we up sticks from the UK with our 2 small boys and headed across The Channel to France. It has been both the best and the worst of moves at different times but one I would now not change. The boys have spent more of their lives here in France now and are wonderfully fluent in both languages. It’ll be interesting to see how they grow in the coming years – will they stay “English” or become more French? Me – I am still English and at times the French culture and system completely befuddles me but France is a great place to live and I now get to keep pigs!!

  • http://blog.lixhewett.com/ Lix Hewett

    This is so helpful and relevant to me right now. I posted a blog on Friday asking people to ask me questions about my crowdfunding campaign for my move, and I got SO much negativity and people trying to scare me out of moving. But this is what I want to do, and there’s not going to be a better time for it probably! I have to bite the bullet at some point, and it’s going to be scary no matter when I do. So thank you for the resources you shared and the encouragement; I will be coming back to them for sure.

  • http://djseaward.tumblr.com/ Cynthia

    Wow, really interesting to read about life as a TCK. I can’t really imagine and still can fully understand how it must be, but I liked this post a lot :) Expat life is exciting, nerve-racking, and pushes you out of your comfort zone constantly. I often worry if after this experience I won’t fully enjoy living back in my home state because of the lack of challenge and excitement.

  • jointhegossip

    I admire people who pick up and move – such an adventure!

    Linking up again today. Thanks for hosting!

  • http://themovetoamerica.wordpress.com/ Molly @ The Move to America

    I enjoy reading about the TCK life etc – everytime I pop on here, I learn something new about it!

  • http://www.meganjoyjaunts.com/ Megan

    I am also a military brat but didn’t really get the TCK experience, even after living in Germany for 4 years. I love hearing your perspectives on TCK life. Your children are so fortunate to have adventure-loving parents to expose them to such a rich and wonderful lifestyle.

  • Rachel Murphree

    I like how you pushed readers to make the move and take the challenge. While I know that I can’t actually move (mine and C’s jobs, for now at least, keep us here), I do make these sorts of vows to travel places. I’ll decide that this is the year to go to _____, and then find a way to make it happen. Like they say, where there is a will there is a way, and when you commit to making something happen, you WILL find a way to accomplishing it. As a result of that, we’re going to Peru for 2 weeks in May!

    – Rachel @ With Love, Rachel

  • http://www.amyandthegreatworld.com/ AmyMacWorld

    What a great challenge! I have always, always dreamed of living abroad and I’m so happy I will be making that change in August…I only hope I can figure out ways to STAY abroad :). thank you for hosting, and for sharing your experiences as a Third-Culture Kid!

  • Carsla Peyton

    Lovely suggestions! & It’s quite inspiring to hear your story! I know I will get there soon enough! ;D

    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

  • http://susanneisme.blogspot.nl/ Susanne V.

    I really like this post.
    Recently I have been asking myself the question “Do I want to be a expat or stay here?”
    And I don’t really know, but I think that with my TCK background it is the only thing that really makes sense. And reading that it has been the best thing for you makes me smile!

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