How do you respond to “where are you from”? seems like a simple enough question to answer right?
Well, wish I felt the same way about it. “Where are you from?” has always been the one question I dreaded answering the most. So what about that question I find so dreadful? Well, I was born and raised in Italy, by Nigerian parents who blessed me with lots and lots of melanin – which I love – but that does not match my “italianness”.
Needless to say, I was asked where I was REALLY from countless time…sigh… annoying but eh…I’m sure it will be better when I visit my family in Nigeria right?Wrong. “Oyinbo” is a yoruba slang word for white, talk about irony. I was not Nigerian enough because growing up abroad apparently gave me a privileged look that had to be pointed out at site, and took away how Nigerian I should have been.
Well, just to add a little more flavor to the cultural clashes I decided to move to Texas. I am not going to lie, until I open my mouth this has been the one place where my provenience was not questioned at site, however, my accent never really let me be great, cue the” oh where is your accent from?!”. Like honestly can a girl just find a place where she can belong without having to give a whole life history dissertation to simply answer “where are you from?”.
Well for a very long time I thought I was alone in this feeling of frustration and longing, not literally, but non the less I didn’t have a definition for what I had been feeling. That was until I found out about Third Culture Kids (TCK) – BEST – FINDING – EVER.
TCK are people that are raised in a culture that is different from their parents. You know that awesome feeling when you find a random article and it’s totally talking about you? That is how I felt about this write up explaining what are the top 10 struggles of TCK. I was able to truly relate and see in plain english what I have been feeling all these years! Well now that I have some validation here is the list and how I related to it!- I strongly urge you to read the original article.
1. Answering the question “where are you from?”
We already went over this: it’s an anxiety inducing question and I pledge to find a place on this planet where that question will not be required – going to Cuba next week and I am low key hoping that will be it!
2. Explaining your “international” accent
I have been told multiple times that my accent does not sound Italian, maybe a hint of Nigerian, but almost sound like you could be from the islands – which one people, WHICH one – I usually simply respond by saying that I have my own trade marked accent and when my parents, my brother and I speak, we all have completely different sounding accents from one another, so there’s that I guess.
3. Mixing up your languages
I count in Italian- honestly do not know why, but I lose count after 5 in English. I randomly replied in Spanish to a non Spanish speaking co worker, simply because I over heard someone speaking Spanish in the hallway. My autocorrect is the absolute worst – ok, I am a REALLY bad text proofreader to begin with- but my keyboard is often on something other than English which does not help at all.
4. Planning holidays
Let’s just say I wish my Nigerian family would get on a plane rather than me planning to go over there, but then again is one of me and a lot of them…
5. Long-distance friends and relationships
Can you say never booking an hotel EVER? I absolutely love having friends all over the globe, I have a good time, a tour guide and accommodation all in one and of course so do they when they come to visit me!
6. Dealing with ridiculous questions
Yes I speak Italian- I’m italian. No there are no tigers in my backyard in Nigeria…also tigers are Asians. No I have not ridden an horse on the highway in Houston.
7. A constant need to travel
One of my closest friends loves to tell me : “You just don’t know how to sit down somewhere and be still, do you?” Well, no I don’t! Cue my next solo trip to Cuba after a quick New York pitstop (one week to go!!!! Yes I am quite excited lol)
8. Passports and immigration
Well, on the bright side I have two citizenships (American pending further consideration!) which means two passports. Even tho the Nigerian passport does not have that much visa power around the world, it will get the job done for those African countries I am itching to visit ( Ivory coast, South Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, Ghana, Mauritius are on the short list) for the rest of the world, the Italian passport is like the magic key of travel!
9. Explaining your lifestyle
It sounds weird when I say out loud that I don’t actually miss my family, but is not that I don’t love them, I am just used to being on different time zones, different countries and continents.
10. Different currencies and costs of living
Let’s just say when I was in London everything was so freaking expensive, the simple act of buying bread pissed me off! But also, did you know that when you have foreign exchange left over most places will not change coins? Well I put all my foreigner change to good use and turn it into a part of my art work – It’s all on her jacket.
While it does feel good knowing that I am not alone in feeling “lost”, at times I still do hope to randomly stumble across a place where I just am, no questions asked and I finally fully belong!
Are you a TCK? do you know anyone that could relate? I would love to hear your experience!
Until next time,