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.