3 Things All “Third Culture” People Will Have Experienced

“Third culture” adults are fairly unusual in society. There’s every chance you are one and haven’t even realized it. Third culture adults are defined as people who fit into the following circumstances:


  • Your mother is from a country different from the one of your birth.
  • Your father is from a country different from the one of your birth and different from your mother’s country.
  • You grew up, and now live in, a country that is neither of your parents’ home countries.


Okay, so that definition seems a little tough to wrap your head around, so let’s simplify with an example:


  • Your mom is from France
  • Your dad is from Poland
  • You grew up, and now live, in the USA; your “third culture”.


Third culture adults have fascinating life experiences, influenced by three different cultures all at the same time. If you are a third culture adult — or you know someone who is — then the experiences below will sound very familiar to you. Sometimes, it’s nice to know you’re not alone…



#1 – Your Cultural References Are Incredibly Varied

If you’re a third culture adult, you’ve probably gone through a few house moves in your time. You may have lived in other countries for awhile, or just followed your parents as they move– parents of third culture adults are more comfortable with moving to seek a better life. All of those moves combine together to give you a unique set of cultural reference points.


You might occasionally find yourself having to explain a pop culture reference to your non-third-culture friends, but for the most part, it’s incredibly exciting to have so many cultural references in your life. It gives you a varied, interested perspective that is unique to you and your experience.


#2 – You Have Family Spread Across The Globe

… which can make family reunions tricky! You might spend much of your time talking to your relatives via Skype rather in person. Your experience of life will be wildly different to your cousins, but there’s a benefit to this too– you have more insight in the world around you than your peers.


You’re also placed in the position of being able to help your overseas family if they need it, be it with access to information to help improve their lives or even consulting an asylum lawyer should they need to move from their own country. This experience gives you a real insight into how a truly global community can work, and that’s to your benefit.


#3 – You Build Your Own Blended Customs and Traditions

There are different customs throughout the world, from the way different countries celebrate Christmas to what’s considered a good birthday gift. Your experience as an third culture adult will ensure that your traditions are incredibly personal to you, often blending different cultures and adding a little sprinkle of your own homeland too.


While it can sometimes be tough, there’s no denying that the benefits of being a third culture adult far outstrip the downsides. Your unique insight into the global culture ensures you’re informed, intelligent, and always ready and willing to offer a hand to a distant family member in need.



Where are your ancestors from?

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