Guest blog by Agostina Pozzuto, Global Outreach Coordinator at The Expat Kids Club
Some of us have spent our lives hopping from country to country, growing up in places different than the countries that our parents might call home. Our parents seem to be the only ones that come close to really understanding us because they've lived with us through all of the phases, houses, places, and countries; experienced the same cultures, know the people, etc. But our parents are different than us because they can just return to their “home” - the place where they were born and raised, and fit right back into the culture of their youth, while for us that is just “my passport country.”
During the past twenty-two years of my life, I have lived in five different countries, went to five kindergartens, five schools and five universities. I flew before I could walk. I am a Third Culture Kid.
When I turned 18, I had a sudden and strong sense of restlessness, and told my parents that I needed to move away from the place that had been my home the longest - Malaysia. I was bored and tired of what I already knew about Malaysia, and I wanted to study in Europe - somewhere I’d never been. For some reason my country of origin, Argentina, didn’t really call to me. I remember receiving my acceptance letter from my university in The Netherlands, and I think it never really hit my friends and family until the day I actually left. That day is still a complete blur in my memory - I think the mixture of excitement and sadness made me almost forget everything about it. What I do remember is being on the plane and wondering why I’d had such a strong urge to leave everything behind - “Why did I choose to do this?”
My mother came to The Netherlands with me to help me get settled, and after a week when we said goodbye (I was going to introduction camp), I had no time to cry and spent the next three days of camp focusing on making new friends. When I arrived back to my empty room after camp, I saw that my mum was not only gone, but she had cleaned everything and left me a letter. I felt so scared and so lonely, a feeling that I had never felt before. The muscles in my chin started trembling like a baby and tears burst out of me. It had hit me. “What have I done?” I read my mum’s letter, choked back the big lump in my throat, and went off to my next introduction event. Every time I think about that letter now I still remember all of those feelings.
Every once in awhile there is this “homesickness” that hits you hard and all you want at that moment is your mum's food or your best friend’s laugh. It’s arriving at that particular airport and the smell of that city; it’s every little thing that makes you whole and it’s the scary thought that no-one within a 1,000 kilometer radius has known you for more than a few months. Building a new life away from everything you know is terrifying, and is the most exciting feeling in the world.
It’s completely normal to feel this way - people often talk about how moving abroad will change you for the better, about how much it opens your mind and enriches your experience with life. But of course with everything great, there are challenges - moments when you will want to pack everything up and take the next plane back home but don’t let yourself fall into a pity party because soon enough that “new” place will become a new home, and you’ll make friends that become so close to you in such a short period of time that they become like family; and then before you even realize it you are back home visiting and missing that “new” home you’ve created for yourself. Be proud and brave, to stay the course.
A child of Argentinian expats, Agostina Pozzuto has experienced the benefits and challenges of having lived outside her country of origin a third-culture kid in Argentina, Venezuela, Malaysia, Italy and The Netherlands. She is hoping to share her own experiences, while raising awareness about this extraordinary lifestyle and what it is like being a “confusion-of-cultures.” We are excited to have her on board as our new Global Outreach Coordinator! If you would like to get in touch with Agostina, you can email her at email@example.com