Human Nature, Numbers

Third Culture Kid

Something on this morning’s news made me wonder how many Chinese people (race, not nationality) live outside of China. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 50 million overseas Chinese in the world, and most of them are living in Southeast Asia.

Then, I got side-tracked by the intriguing term third culture kid

Third culture kids (TCK) are people raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of the country named on their passport (where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years. The term can refer to both adults and children, as the term “kid” points more to an individual’s formative or developmental years, but for clarification, sometimes the term adult third culture kid (ATCK) is used.

My grandmother was a TCK, having migrated from China to Singapore when she was a child. My mother was a TCK growing up in Malaysia when the family left Singapore in the 50s. Is she considered an ATCK now that she lives in the US as a PR? My two Malaysian nieces are definitely TCKs currently growing up in Seattle. I, on the other hand, do not seem to fall into any of these two categories.

Now comes the interesting part, the benefits and challenges:


  • Expanded worldview: TCKs have an understanding that there is more than one way to look at situations that they are exposed to or experience.
  • Third-dimensional view of the world: With an increased number of hands-on experiences in multiple cultures, there is a difference in the way that the world is perceived.
  • Interpersonal sensitivity: Increased exposure to a variety of perceptions and lifestyles allow TCKs to monitor their emotions, and register societal norms and cues more adeptly so as to produce higher sensitivity to other cultures and ways of life.
  • Cross-cultural competence or cultural intelligence: the capacity to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures.
  • TCK have been found to have higher levels of general adjustment as opposed to mono cultural children.
  • Language exposure, which opens the doors to new realms including that of new cultures. TCKs, through prolonged exposure to native language use, can thus also learn to see themselves through the eyes of others.


  • Confused loyalties: Third culture kids can experience a lot confusion with politics and values. Oftentimes, TCKs cannot answer the question: “Where is home?”
  • Painful awareness of reality: difficulty adjusting to cultures where the only culture that is discussed or focused on is itself.
  • Ignorance of home culture: TCKs are often lacking in knowledge about their home nation, culture, town, and/or family.
  • Difficulties with adjusting to adult life: the mixture of influences from the various cultures that the individual has lived can create challenges in developing an identity as well as with a sense of belonging.
  • American ATCKs reported significantly higher levels of prejudice than non-American ATCKs.
  • There is a need for special attention of young TCK in educational settings to make sure they are supported when and if entering a new school. This would allow for an optimal learning experience for the child.
  • “Walters and Auton-Cuff (2009) found that female TCKs hesitate to develop relationships and have less emotional affect as compared to non-TCKs. Furthermore, female TCKs’ identity development was delayed because of their focus on adjusting rather than creating a sense of belonging (Walters & Auton-Cuff, 2009).”
Human Nature, Jibber Jabber

Sweet Thoughts

At around two o’clock this afternoon, D and I biked to a kinderboerderij not too far from home. There were a lot of farm animals to go nuts about, but the ones which stole our hearts were the donkeys. They were simply irresistible…

And guess what? On our bike ride back through the lake area De Gavers, we saw another four donkeys in a field. What could one do but to stop, pet the adorable and friendly creatures, and feed them some grass out of our hands.

My dear grandma passed away four years ago today. In remembrance of her, I have challenged myself to live an atypical day this 13th of October. What a day it has been, filled with sweet thoughts and joyful memories!

Flashbacks, Health, Human Nature, Simplify

To Not Be…

What do you want to be when you grow up?

That is a question that I have been asked countless times in my life. When I was a child, my answers had been a medical doctor, then a dentist, and later a veterinarian, because I loved all my pet dogs, cats, fishes, a turtle and a monkey. When I get to understand matters such as finances and rights, I realised and accepted what the world has in store for me and have thus carved my paths accordingly. I went off to business school and half a decade later, to design school.

When one has matured into a semi-stable personality, the real challenge is to distance oneself from the sort of people that can possibly mould you into the person you do not want to become.

What do you not want to be when you grow older?

Human Nature, Simplify, Travels

Vulcan Logic

A few years ago, I told D that he has to be smart when trying to get his point across to me. He would need to use Vulcan Logic to break down my reluctance and stubbornness, in order to convince me to see his side of things.

Well, he did it. I was convinced to cycle to Kortrijk for the Mayday event yesterday! My slight dizziness and coughing fit did not seem to have affected my bike ride by much. To my pleasant surprise, I am not even suffering from any muscle pain today. Admittedly, the coughing fit got worse, but the cold evening was to be blamed for that – not the cycling.

Yep, one will not be able to argue against Vulcan Logic.

Business & Creativity, Human Nature

Little Consumers

Yesterday, D and I went to Kortrijk to buy tickets for an upcoming event. Unfortunately, the shop has stopped selling these since last October, and we would need to purchase the tickets online. So, D and I did some window shopping at the mall and went for a short stroll in the city before proceeding to our other errands. Before leaving the mall, D purchased a nice summer jacket which he really like.

Kortrijk on a Wednesday afternoon, when school was out, were crawling with teenagers! The heaviest concentration seems to be at the the mall. I noticed that a lot of them were actually buying things and have little shopping bags with them. When I remarked that kids are spending their parents earnings, D reminded me that our niece has been working in the weekends to earn some extra cash.

I am all for the hard-working teenagers. I find it wonderful that some youngsters are becoming aware of the rewards they can get in exchange for their time and energy. Hopefully, they are also appreciating and saving their earnings for greater goals, and not be converted into little consuming zombies by the big businesses.

We live in a different and more challenging world now. A lifestyle of mindless and endless consumption is simply unsustainable.

Human Nature, Jibber Jabber

Spaced Out

People tell me stuff. I think it has to do with the fact that I do not talk much, thus making me a good listener. And maybe it has to do with this trustworthy face of mine, who knows…

However, I was not such a good listener last evening. I caught myself spacing out several times during my weekly chat with my parents. There are big chunks of the two hour chat which I can no longer recall, especially when mom was recounting old stories or her daily activities this past week.

The mind wanders, it is a fact.

Flashbacks, Human Nature, Malaysia

Chicken Leg Math

A chicken has two legs – unless it is handicapped. Each chicken leg is comprised of a thigh and a drumstick.

Back in the days, dad will buy one chicken from the market every Saturday. That was our weekly chicken consumption, unless there were feast days in the week. It that case, there shall be two chickens.

The two thighs and two drumsticks were divided among the four children. If you get the drumstick this week, you will have the chicken thigh next week. And so it goes… fair and logic sharing. Personally, I see no big difference between a thigh or a drumstick. I was just grateful to have half a chicken leg on my plate every Sunday.

And now, let me get to the point. First, Math does not lie. Second, my parents are good and fair people. So, to the claim that one child might have been showered with more than half a chicken leg every week, do check and review your memories. Be reminded that by making such a remark, you are actually questioning the decency of my parents. Please put a cork in this nonsense.