Visiting Your Passport Country

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working on a series of articles on being a TCK teen for the magazine Denizen. Here is a snippet of the next installment…

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{my family at a baseball game one summer while visiting the States}

Italians have a theory that experiencing hot and cold air in quick succession results in illness. I have a theory that going back and forth between two cultures in quick succession results in one crazy, confused TCK.

Well, it’s part of the job. Without our first culture, there would be no third culture.

As a teen, navigating the waters of visiting your passport country can be tricky. Life is already a roller-coaster of emotions and when you throw in moving across oceans, it takes a few extra loops. One of its loops is returning “home,” where people will be confused why you put quotation marks around the word home.

In the five years my family lived in Italy, we only went back to Texas once. Besides a quick trip to resolve visa troubles and to be present for my grandpa’s funeral, I did not go back to the United States for three years after moving to Italy. Though it was hard being so far removed from my first home, I’m glad our time overseas was not peppered with trips between cultures.

I loved getting to experience every season and holiday in Italy and not having to constantly mentally switch between worlds. Also, like the old expression “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” the longer the wait between returning to the U.S., the more excited I grew when the time came to reenter the land of free refills and air conditioning.

For the few trips that we did take, the first days of being back in the U.S. were always filled with excitement. From seeing family and friends to munching on my favorite treats, I loved reuniting with my home. Of all the different stages you will experience when you visit your passport culture, this one is definitely the best.

Michaela Frantz, 18, a TCK who grew up in Germany, put it this way: “I was literally a kid in a giant candy store, and I had so much fun experiencing my favorite parts of the culture and discovering new ones. I also appreciated how people went out of their way to spend time with us since we were only back for a short time.”

But just as too much candy gives you a stomach ache, the excitement of being back in your original culture can turn into sour disappointment.

Read the rest here!

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