I grew up as a third culture kid. Third culture kids are children who embody three different cultures – 1) that of their home country, 2) that of their host country, and 3) that which is created by belonging to a community within their host country as defined by shared lifestyle and meaning.
I was born in a small town outside of Columbus, Ohio. At the age of eight, my family moved South to Georgia, where I spent the next four years. When I was twelve, we moved to Switzerland. There, I was enrolled in an international school where I was surrounded by other, fellow, third culture kids.
This makes my first culture American, my second culture Swiss, and my third culture the sense of belonging I felt with other children who were growing up abroad.
Within the six years following my graduation in Switzerland, I have lived in Scotland, France, Washington D.C., and now Switzerland again. In September, I will be moving to England. I even spent a summer working in China with underserved students.
In many ways, being an (adult) third culture kid means home is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This can be both a gift and a curse. While my life isn’t constrained by borders, it’s also difficult to know where in the world I fit in.
Today, I spend lots of my time travelling. Whether it’s for leisure or to visit my family and friends in other parts of the globe, The Open University makes it easy to take my studies with me. Having flexibility to study from wherever I am in the world means that I can be a student without losing my other identity – a globetrotter.
I always make sure to pack my earphones for tutorials, laptop for online readings, and notebook so I can check things off my to-do list as I go!
Of course, staying focused on my studies while travelling can be a challenge. That’s why I always set aside mornings for schoolwork and afternoons for sightseeing. Getting ahead on work before my travels also means that if my study schedule doesn’t go as planned, I don’t need to sweat it.
The most important thing is that I get to make the best of both worlds through The Open University – the student world and the geographical world.