TCK: Where are you From?


Knowing where you are from is part of your self identity.  It is also the way others can form initial impressions and gain an understanding to who you are upon your meeting.  For many this is an easy, quick to answer question that requires no premeditated thought. For some it may take a little time as they have moved around, but upon further investigation will find they have a ‘family’ home through their family relations. Then in walks the Third Culture Kid (TCK) who may love or loathe this question for there is no real simple answer. Do you want the short version or the long version? How many more questions will you ask depending on the answer I give? How will you label me if I bring up certain places? Will you stop listening when my answer goes past two words?

I became a TCK because I grew up in a US military family that moved around military bases overseas. Not all my peers had the same extreme nomadic lifestyle that I did growing up.  They may have spent two years or maybe six abroad but returned ‘home’ to a semi stable lifestyle stateside.  I on the other hand have lived some places for a few months up to a few years (though never more than three) over and over again. If I were to go off the typical reasoning for being ‘from’ somewhere I would be without a country/city/state/province/town to hold as my own. As a TCK I hold each significant place that I have spent time in as a part of who I am.  Perhaps I only lived in that place for 3 years but it has now become one of my ‘homes’.  I am a citizen of the world and I am proud of all the stamps in every passport I have.


Where are from in the US?
Technically I am not. I was born in England during my father’s second tour (out of three) with the US Air Force.  I moved to the states at seventeen after growing up across military bases in Europe. I spent the next eleven and a half years spending several months to a few years living in various parts of the United States, including three summers abroad to Italy, Australia, and Thailand.

Alright but where is your family from in the US?
My dad was from Newark, New Jersey. He left at 17 to go to the USAF Academy and moved frequently for his work until he retired in Arizona. He is survived by a younger brother but I have probably only been to NJ less than ten times in my entire life. My mum had a nomadic life within the US as a church planting kid and I never knew her extended family either. While we have relations in the US, there is no grand family home to return to for the holidays.

When your husband was in the military, where were you guys stationed?
We were in Monterey, California for close to 2 years and then on the island of Oahu in Hawaii for 3-4 years.  We were blessed with ocean side locations during our six years as a military family. Hawaii is now the longest place I have lived anywhere in the US.

Where have you lived in Europe?
I was born in Oxfordshire, England and also spent a few years in Norfolk during the first gulf war.  Then I lived in Stuttgart, Germany in between two separate tours to Naples, Italy.  Three years ago this coming May we moved to Brighton, England and we moved to Bath a year ago this past Christmas.

What brought you to England this time around?
When my husband and I were engaged at Uni we had plans to move abroad to Europe.  He joined the military in hopes we could get overseas assignments like my father.  While Hawaii and California were great, when my husband finished his enlistment we decided to move on.  My husband started a masters programme in England and with my dual citizenship we left the US to start a new life for our family.  We now work and live in Bath.

Where will you move next?
We have no current plans to move.  This is the first time in my entire life I have not had to think about moving in the near future. The historic city of Bath is beautiful, quite safe, and a lovely community with picturesque countrysides surrounding it. We can now plan towards the future and look forward to future events here with our family.  I know that may seem like a lot coming from someone with such a nomadic background.  However, I have never felt as happy or as content as I do now.  It solidifies our decision to leave the US to see how happy my whole family is here together at last.

Want to know more about Third Culture Kids?
Read my other TCK related posts.
  • Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

    Lovely post Bonnie. x

    • Bonnie Rose

      Thank you Louisa x

  • Susanne V.

    One of the questions I dread answering, but I answer it anyway… It is who I am, no point in hiding it :)
    Great post

    • Bonnie Rose

      Exactement! Thank you for reading Susanne. x

  • Kaelene Spence

    You have lived in some exciting and beautiful places. Coming from someone thats entire family still lives in the same area I think it sounds so interesting and fun to have been able to travels so much as a child, I am sure though moving around isn’t always fun.

    • Bonnie Rose

      Thank you Kaelene, all to the USAF from my dad to my husband but I am glad I was along for the ride. :) x

  • Shannon

    Loved this! It’s funny how “Where are you from?” can be such a hard question to answer sometimes.

    • Bonnie Rose

      Oh indeed! Coming from my side of things its why I love meeting people to hear their ‘stories’ life is so much more intertwined! Glad you like it Shannon. x

  • Curtis Poe

    I am frustrated every time someone asks me this. I try to say “the US”, but they want to know where (they wouldn’t ask that if I said I was from Romania). So I say “the last place I lived was in Portland, Oregon.” But where were you born? Well, I was born and mostly raised in Texas, but I haven’t lived there in three decades and barely remember it. I’ve also lived in Louisiana, Alaska, Washington State, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, and now France.

    I have no idea where the hell I’m from any more.

    • Bonnie Rose

      Oh yes we share the same story. :) I just found your blog and I really enjoyed your post about whether living abroad will give you an accent. I’ve had an English accent twice in my life (while living here as a young girl and picking it through friends) but it looks like my american accent as a 30 yr old is pretty much here to stay. Like you when I’m in the US or around Americans get noticed for saying things like ‘flat’ or calling pants trousers. :) I love all the different cultural aspects of being a TCK and from living all over. We may not know where we are from but it is an enriched world view. :)

  • Jenn

    Thanks for answering these, you have lived in some great places :)

    • Bonnie Rose

      You are welcome and thank you for stopping by Jenn!

  • Sarah Beth

    It interesting to read your post because although I’m not a TCK, I feel like I am. My parents worked in camp ministry my whole life and we moved around constantly. I was born in Canada but moved to US when I 8 and have since lived in 5 different states. Each place is home in its own way and each place helped shape me into the person I am now. I’m also in a position where I’m not considering moving very far again- I’ve graduated university but I like my friends here and the life I’m making. It’s a weird feeling but also excited! Of course when I eventually get back to Europe, we’ll see if I actually come back…haha. xx