The Little Things
There are so many little things about being a TCK that are never discussed, because they're always overshadowed by the wonders of our lifestyle, or the depression that comes with it.
I just want to take a minute to talk about those things, so that people who are not TCK's or unfamiliar with our lifestyles can have a better understanding of some of the things we go through.
1. We don't have stable health care.
What I mean by this is that, because we're constantly moving from country to country, place to place, it's extremely difficult to continue seeing the same physicians (doctors, dentists, psychologists, etc.). Every time we move, we have to reestablish ourselves as patients in the new country we're in. Also, each country has it's own laws and regulations regarding insurance and health care. It can be difficult, even if a TCK or TCA isn't chronically ill. While we can, and do, take our medical files with us every time we move, it's really hard to keep up. Unless you have a serious or chronological illness, many doctors do not have the time, patience, or will to review your entire file. They also don't have that rapport already established with you. And, they have no idea if you are a reliable reporter or not. One example from my own personal life is that in high school (in England), I suddenly had a high fever, accompanied by a stinging feeling on my face and hundreds of little whiteheads across my chin, upperlip, and cheek. Although I suffered from acne in my teenage years, whatever was happening to my face was not normal, and with the accompanied fever, I was convinced they were related and something was wrong. My parents, who have obviously seen me grow up and know what is normal and what's not normal for me and my body, saw that this was an abnormal reaction and maybe some kind of rash, and took me to the local NHS doctors. The doctor saw me for approximately 2-minutes, and completely dismissed me. She said I have acne, and whatever rash was on my face was a result of that acne. When I told her how suddenly this rash formed, and how I have an accompanying fever, she literally laughed at me, and again repeated "you have acne, that's all." I left the hospital feeling so embarrassed, ashamed, hopeless, and upset. I knew my regular doctor from back home would have known whatever I was going through was not normal and not due to my hormonal acne, and would have helped me. Instead, I got ridiculed and laughed at. My mother, who for years has been complaining about various aches and pains, is never, ever taken seriously by any doctors either, because they have no rapport with her, no history with her, and do not understand that she is a reliable reporter. It's the most frustrating situation and one of the biggest downsides to being a TCK. I am a healthy individual and do not need to go to the doctor's office regularly, but in the past ten years, any time I did go to the doctor / hospital, it was always with someone new and often in a different country, because of my lifestyle.
2. We don't have a hair dresser.
Same as above. When you move around so much, you can't really establish those connections. You have to keep finding new hairdressers, and hope that they won't butcher your hair.
3. We (as kids) or our kids will probably fall behind our/their classmates in certain subjects.
When you move around so much, it means you have to keep changing schools. Changing schools means changing curriculums. Changing curriculums means learning different things, at different paces than your peers. For example, in my own personal life, I never took a geography course, because when my classmates in Udhailiyah were taking it, I was living in England. And my classmates in England wouldn't be taking it until the following year. The following year, I was in Italy, and my classmates had already completed that course. SO, I never took a geography course in my life. I also fell really behind in math, because I kept re-learning things I had already learned in previous schools, and then when I moved back to Udhailiyah, I was significantly behind my peers.
4. People don't understand if we're a tourist, immigrant, or what.
This is ESPECIALLY true if you are a person of color. If you are white (and I don't mean this in a bad way - it just is what it is), people often will assume you're a tourist. Or, they'll think you're one of them. They won't confuse you as a refugee or immigrant. Also, white tourists are generally much more accepted than tourists of color. Same with immigrants. Same with refugees. Same with everything. It's all part of white privilege (and again, I don't mean it in a bad way - it just is what it is). My parents were living in Italy during the "Refugee Crisis", and I got so, so, so, many dirty looks when I visited them. I wanted to use a permanent marker and write on my forehead "I'M JUST VISITING MY PARENTS, WHO ARE TEMPORARILY LIVING HERE, PLEASE CHILL. WE'LL BE OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY SOON ENOUGH!" Would I receive those dirty looks if I was white? No. No one would be able to tell if I was a tourist, immigrant, refugee, migrant, etc., unless I opened my mouth and spoke (my horrible American accent would be a dead give away! - but even then, they'd assume I was a tourist, and not think twice about it). Sigh.
5. There's no going back to a "normal life". We will always be different.
I don't really know how to explain this one. It's like trying to explain what the color red looks like to someone who is color blind. Traveling really opens up your eyes. Moving across the world to various countries, living within them, and making parts of their culture your own, does the same to a significantly larger extent. You can't ever go back to being "normal"; you'll always be different, and this is a good thing. I wish more than anything, that everyone who could afford to would travel. You don't have to go far; you don't even have to leave your own country (but please do, if you can). Travel, meet other people, see other cultures, and learn that there are a million ways of doing things, not just your way.
6. We can't really have pets, because we can't travel all around the world with animals.
No explanation needed. I mean, you could have pets, but it's stressful for animals to go through big moves especially across countries or continents, frequently. Personally, I have apple snails, but dream of having a kitten one day.
7. We can't own a lot of things, like a car or a house. We're always renting.
It doesn't make sense to buy a car or a house when you're only living in that country for a few months or year! TCKs (or, actually, TCAs) typically rent. Many TCAs have houses, cars, etc. in their passport country (home country) but rent when they're abroad.
8. We have to find different products everywhere we go, because every country has its own products.
Don't get too attached to the local treats at the grocery store, because you will likely have a lot of difficulty finding them in other countries!
9. The majority of our relationships are (or will become) long-distance.
That's simply what happens when you allow your soul to connect with another, knowing you're going to be moving soon.
10. Our lives are both a blessing and a curse.
Because of all the things I noted above, and for many more reasons, being a TCK can be a bit of a curse. Personally, for me, the good outweighs the bad and I am proud of my TCK lifestyle, but hope to settle down one day. I am unsure if I would like to put my future kids through this. Rather, I would encourage traveling over moving, so that they may learn about cultures outside their own, see the world's beauty, hear songs in foreign tongues, but still have a place to come home to, a bed to sleep in, and a singular place to call home.
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