Third Culture Confusion

January 13th, 2012 § 5 comments

My parents were living in Dubai when I was conceived. A month before I was born, my mother moved to Sri Lanka to give birth, a common thing for expats living in an Arab country. Within six months we were back in Dubai. When I was six, we moved to Australia. Through some gentle teasing, I lost my thick Sri Lankan accent and went to school and university in Australia. I turned 21 and in a hunt for adventure moved to Washington D.C for 2.5 years.

I came back to Australia with a strong American accent and a mish mash of a dictionary. My taste buds had evolved from craving simple meals to strong contrasts of sweet and sour i.e blue cheese and spiced walnut salads.

To add a splash of confusion, I went to an American school in Dubai, which meant people were asking me if I was American even before I lived there.

My husband had basically the same upbringing but ten years apart. He thinks it’s our constant moving that allowed us to assimilate to American culture in such a short amount of time.

I suppose that’s why I employ a Sri Lankan head wobble when I talk to my mother.

My cousin in Dubai told me empathetic people are more likely to lose their mother-accents. I like that reasoning.

I’m always in the quest for belonging. Some placement.

On my most recent trip abroad, after I had been back in Australia for 1.5 years, I met three lots of Australians. Each one asked why I sounded American. It’s confusing for all involved. A big gray area.

I wonder if I would have a stronger Australian accent if I had lived here my whole life.

I wonder how I can feel a part of one country.

A possible solution is to keep on moving. Always be an expat, a foreigner. Easier said than done, moving can be heart-wrenching stuff, as joyous as it is.

This section will be my exploration of all things third culture. The world is getting smaller. So definitions should get bigger.

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