Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wanderlust (II)

I’ve always wanted to see & experience new places. When I was young, I used to imagine myself under the Big Sky of Montana, or enjoying the sea breeze on the Greek Isles, or skiing the slopes of the Alps. Perhaps it was a presage of what my life has become as an adult with my own family.

We’ve moved multiple times in the last decade and a half, two of those moves halfway across the globe. I consider myself a global citizen, my ideas, perceptions, & values having been shaped (& still being shaped) by diverse & varied life experiences. An old classmate from Medical School commented recently that I have had a somewhat unusual life, compared to the rest of my cohort.

I don’t think this kind of life is for everyone. I know a few of my closest friends are befuddled at how I can do what I do. But it’s not that strange or unusual a lifestyle after all. There is a small percentage of the people of the world who are quasi-nomadic in nature. Their jobs bring them to different parts of the world, often far & vastly different from their home country. Their families are relocated every few years. Previously, these were mainly military families who went where they were directed to go. Now, with the globalization of so many companies, businesses are expanding to places all over the world, sending their senior managers to these places to help run their organizations. And these employees bring along there spouses & kids to unfamiliar environs.

Their kids are known as third culture kids. One usually finds these children in international schools, getting to know kids in the same shoes, from other cultures & ethnicities. And because they don’t live in their home country, they develop a unique culture of their own, assimilating views & opinions from their international friends.

I don’t think I would consider my kids TCKs. Half their lives were spent in their passport country, while the other half in their mom’s passport country. And part of the latter was spent assimilated in a local school while the other part in an international school. Perhaps a more suitable term would be “Different Cultured Kids”. I am not sure how this will affect them as adults. With our impending move to China, doubts & fears of settling into & living in such a different country arise, especially for my children, as they have to make new friends & get used to a new school. Heck, I will have to make new friends as well!!! And make do with less English movies/books/TV programs (sigh).

Despite how daunting the move may be, what I am sure of is that ultimately, their experiences & my own, will be unique and enriching. At least, we will be able to learn proper Mandarin!


dopey said...

hi aliendoc! what a surprise! :)

i hope this comment reaches you soon enuff. there's a farewell for Ms Heng tom (27/10) starting 230pm... i think lots of old gals will be back. they're having a surprise banner for Ms Heng, a song session, some performances and a ceremony where all the classes present their tokens to her...

Anonymous said...

Eh, I don't know what to classify myself as. I sort of identify with the TCK label, but I wouldn't meet the criteria.

But often I wonder what others in similar positions feel, or their attitudes towards their current cultures versus their roots, or how affected they feel about their roots?

"And part of the latter was spent assimilated in a local school while the other part in an international school."

Meh, I would think that would only strengthen the label later.

After all, if effectively led an assimilated life a quarter or a third of a life, that would only strengthen the experience. Sometimes I don't like the international schools because of the segregation from the local population that only creates the divide.

Rencontrer, rencontrer!

dopey said...

oops, sorry! just realised, you're not in sg....

aliendoc said...

dopey: thanks for the heads up. Actually, I am back in Singapore now. But tomorrow is not good for me, as I have errands to run & children to pick up from school!

John: Sorry, I don't speak French...what is rencontrer? As far as my kids are concerned, I can only hope that the decisions we make as parents will ultimately be the right ones. Looking at the lives they have led & the life that my husband or I led as children & adolescents...personally, I wish I was in their shoes & had the opportunites they have now!

igakunogakusei said...

All the best for the move! I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. :) Do schools in Beijing use "jian ti" (simplified chinese characters) or "fan ti" (traditional chinese characters) nowadays?

I picked up my "Beijing qiang" back in 2000 when I worked in a lab before going to uni, where 80% of the members were originally Chinese nationals.

I'm beginning to better appreciate your reasons for putting your career on hiatus. I can see how it will be impossible for me to fulfill my aspirations, as well as start a family. I guess it will be work first, for me.

aliendoc said...

iggy: Beijing & the rest of mainland China use 'jian ti'. Taiwan & HK use 'fan ti'. But the accent in Beijing is so different from that in Singapore that I find it really hard to understand especially if they speak too fast! Lots of 'rrr's & 'shrrr's & 'arrr's!

igakunogakusei said...

Oh thank god it's "jian ti".

What I found difficult was word choice, not so much the accent. They say things differently, but you (and your family) will pick it up I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Ah, fascinating linguistics, isn't it? I call it the "Northern Drawl" (cf. the American "Southern Drawl"). I shared a room with a PRC student in the ACS boarding school once, along with several other people, that's when I especially noticed it.

"Rencontrer" is French for "to meet". It is a theme that I find would be a solution for many wanting situations in life.

Sometimes I wish the international students weren't so segregated from the others, hell, the local population from each other too.

if I be you and you be me
let us meet under the spreading chestnut tree
recontrons, recontrons, mes amis

Too many subjunctives"....for it shows we are lacking.