The Double-Edged Sword of being TCK

<Privilege or confusion>

Many people assume being TCK is a privilege and should thank the ones who provided those environments. However, many people overlook the actual streams of thoughts and emotions one has gone and will go through.

For me, growing up at a diverse environment has helped me to see the World in a diverse perspective. I love the fact that everything is connected somehow, and it would have been a challenge if I have had lived in a mono-culture. (I don’t necessarily mean that living in mono-culture narrows down ones mindset and perceptions. Being TCK makes it more easier because they get to see many other options when their mind-set isn’t formed yet)

<Pros of being TCK >

There are so many pros to being TCK. 

1. It’s easy to say hi first 

First, encountering people and diverse culture is not a big deal. Adjusting (getting used to) to a culture is not scary thing anymore and some love getting to know another person and culture!

2. Knowing more than two languages 

Secondly, TCKs know more than one language! And there are numerous pros to being TCK.

<Cons of being TCK >

However, there also is cons for it. I will start from somewhat small to big.

1. Do I “know” the language and culture? 

First, you think you know the language and culture of your passport country, but you don’t know them thoroughly. You think you do, but no. Reading between the lines will be your homework forever.  And knowing it thoroughly can be done by learning them by books or mistakes, but it will never be the same with acquisition. 

2. Race between Languges in your brain 

Secondly language issue! The level of the having certain language to “the perfect level” for more than two language is not easy. There are few who did it, but for the majority, it does not come easy as they are exposed to different language since they are young. For English, one can easily mix up with English usage according to whom they spent time with. 

Not only that, but your brain has a  constant race going on between language 1 and 2. When I have to say certain word, I’d have runner 1 and 2 heading forward. Sometimes, it’s English or Korean. The biggest deal is to make it into a sentence. The flow of my thoughts are as the following; Connecting those two language is hidden first step for sure and it is not easy. When the words get connected, the second step is to evaluate if it is the correct word. For me, I find connection by reminding myself with the image and picture, and then example of the usage in the past. The last step would be putting them into the sentence in my head. After those steps, I get to speak. It is a tiresome  progress to do this. I’ve gotten used to easy phrases but when it comes to meeting, my head is so tired that I become speakless. For that reason, I’ve found a suitable compromise for my brain. Since I work in Korean corporate, I use Korean during weekdays and I use English and few Korean during Weekends. Monday, It’s bit awkward but it gets better and less stressful as time goes by. 
3. what it your identity and where is your home? 

Third, figuring out what my identity is the big question mark which will not disappear soon. For me, after a stressful work experience, I had took a year off figuring out my identity. That workplace had everything a Korean TCK could experience while living in Korea. It was truly a torment to be there. It was a moment of epiphany that I have never adjusted to Korea and its culture, and their expectations of me to hide my “TCK mindset” in the closet and be a Korean was suffocating me. During figuring out my identity, I had learned so much about me, and it has been a good progress. Yet, “Where are you from” or “Where is your home” makes me puzzled. But I’ve learned how to narrow down the answers by reading their body languages and linguistic characteristics.

4. Greive, you get dull to it just like having a scar

And there are so many cons to being TCK, but most of all, greive will be the biggest thing. I personally consider Europe my home (I won’t be specific). And I will always keep kin memories of my home in my heart. Leaving that place killed me. And when I learned that I will never go back made me lost. But throughout a year when I concentrated to figure out my identity, I also learned that grieve will be there forever. Someone told me that it’s like a scar. You get dulled at it, and it’s impossible to get over it. And I can see that it is the only way.

<Just a thought> 

I came a long way to admit and move on (comparably). Yet, “Where are you from”and “What’s your first language? Which language is more comfortable for you?” is a big question. But still, I am enjoying the perks of being TCK. It’s a constant challenge to adjust to Korean culture in Korea, but I have managed it and I will continue with it! 

To be continued! Keep posted 

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