Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympics are filled with TCKs

Stock image taken from Pixabay

The Rio Olympics is underway and so many elite and inspiring athletes from around the world are competing at their highest level to be the best in the world. Its been a rising trend that so many of these athletes are globally mobile and travel to get the best training in the world. So many athletes as a result become Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and Expats as a result.

Sports has a long history of soft-core diplomacy for countries. The exchange of good sportsmanship between athletes, the inspiration these elite athletes give to budding athletes, the athletic rivalry in competition, and the pride in representing a whole nation.

Wait... Patriotism among TCKs can be a tricky thing.

As a spectator, TCKs are torn between multiple countries. Who do we root for?

I recently asked my mother this question and she responded by saying "I don't have a country to root for"

To which I replied "I root for the winning athletes and the countries they represent"

She responded "So we should have multiple country flags and wave the winning flags"


Its trickier for athletes. Some are third culture kids early on in their childhood and had their training all over the world. Some move because they need to get the highest training they can get to make it to the top of their chosen sport. Some move because they would have a better chance at representing a country at the Olympics.

With global mobility becoming easier, an elite athlete would be able to get the best training she/he needs to make their dreams come true. There are so many critics to this tactic as it may be seen as un-patriotic. But what is patriotism these days for the global nomad? Global nomadic athletes train hard to push themselves to realise their dreams for competing with the best for an Olympic gold.

We should support the athletes and their hard work, sacrifices, and for having the determination that many of us lack to push through many long hours of sore muscles, injuries, etc.

Cheer on for the athletes that moves from Singapore to the USA, from China to Germany, from Greece to Austria, from USA to Georgia, from USA to Sweden, etc.

Celebrate the diversity of cultures mixing and healthy sports competition.

Stock photo taken from Pixabay

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The hardest thing about being a TCK

When your friends are scattered all over the world. Long distance friendships and relationships are hard. You're always missing a places and faces.

Life becomes complicated when you're always on the road traveling every couple months. The first question I get asked is "Where are you?" Its like the game of finding Waldo in the pictures. 

I have itchy feet. I feel stuck when I'm in one place for too long. Perhaps, I haven't been able to find that place where I can call home for a while. 

The thing is, I like the slow travel movement. Taking time to slowly take in the culture, sights, people (or lack thereof), scenery. I also like being in my own little space and being on my own whether typing up blog posts, researching articles, writing articles, dancing/choreographing, and cooking up all kinds of recipes. 

Social media is supposed to make it easier to connect people. An online world of connectivity. However, I find that people become a bit lazy to write each other. When I was a child, I had penpals in different countries and wrote letters to them every month. It was a joy to receive a letter in the mail and sometimes we even sent pictures and gifts. 

It took effort to buy a long distance phone card, write and send that letter, print pictures for sharing, etc. Now we have everything at our fingertips. As long as the internet connection is solid. I've been fascinated with how one can have a career online and work remotely from anywhere in the world. 

We as a society have become smaller yet more distant in human relationships. With all the distractions of the modern world and bombardment of online connectivity how does one maintain healthy connections with friends from around the world? 

Just something I've been thinking about lately as I'm working mostly online and connecting with my friends via social media.

P.s. I love getting letters and postcards so if you feel compelled to write to me send me an email! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Digital Nomadism for this TCK

A vicious cycle for a TCK: Packing up, Unpacking, Moving, Transporting, Goodbyes and Hellos
My tiny hands are worn from carrying multiple bags
My arms are filled with big bruises
I beat myself up with my luggage
My heavy load. 
Head heavy, eyes tired. 
Thinking: "I hate this moving business"
Like a drunken haze, we have all said "Never again"
Do not believe it. 
The stares from other travellers at the train, bus, plane
I'm embarrassed and flushed. 
Sweat beads form and my clothes are starting to stick to me. 
Why, oh, why me!? 
Moving again. 
Saying good bye to beautiful places. 
See you soon to my dear friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
Hello again to another location.

My unsightly bruises on both arms. June 2016.

I've been a digital nomad for the past few months and my body is weary but I am also a typical restless TCK who just can't seem to find home or stay put. A few things, I've learned from being a digital nomad and working from "home" is that 1) I like being able to be mobile. 2) I can live a peaceful existence and work efficiently on my own. 3) When I need to see people, I need to make an effort to see them. 

Working remotely from the Swiss Alps. May 2016.

I question myself every single day: how did I get here? The past several years has been such a challenging and trying time for me. A career change is difficult. Combined with a changing world and never being satisfied with where I am.

The world is changing and becoming incredibly volatile. I'm uneasy about it all because it is affecting me on a personal level. I have such an awful time when it comes to applying for visas and whatnot. Sigh. This is not a post for my rant. I am sure there are TCKs out there that can empathise with me on this. Feel free to drop me an email or a Facebook message if you'd like to commiserate.

Atomium, Brussels, Belgium. June 2015

Digital Nomadism. 
Its a thing and so many more companies should embrace this. If there is anything I've learned from my internship is that THIS is possible. I wish more companies would embrace this concept. For starters, I'm currently "funemployed" so decided to embrace this concept of digital nomadism and expand my network reach around the world through my social media channels. Its a dream of mine to be able to work anywhere and inspire others to embrace travel and adventure.
Can one truly work remotely and live a comfortable life? The answer is YES. Its been done and there are so many successful people doing it. I aspire to be able to do this so I'm not a prisoner of location and limited in my career and life aspirations. I just need to find the strength to shut everyone who tells me that its impossible, that I can't do it, that I'm too old, that I'm wasting my time, that I'm running out of time, and to settle down to a mediocre life that everyone else has that I don't want so I can be miserable. I don't want to be miserable.
There is really nothing tying me down and I'm not in the rat race so why not embrace a life that is colorful.
Another thing I learned in 2016 is that I cannot plan my life beyond a few months at a time because something is always going wrong and sh** hits the proverbial fan. Too many things have happened this year in the micro and macro scale that have affected and impacted me on such a personal level that all I can say is c'est la vie.

The life is short, death is inevitable, seize the day.
Malmö Slott, Malmö, Sweden. Feb. 2016

I am a Nomad
Wandering planet earth
Stopping for shelter, food, drink, company, and stories.
Neither here nor there.
Belonging everywhere and nowhere.
Learning languages
Studying cultures
Observing people
And making friends wherever I go.
Missing friends around the world.
I want to be there, there, and there.
I want to go somewhere far 
Finding little rocks I can settle down on for a while.
Settling my weary body, mind, and spirit. 
Blending in
Not blending in. 
Repeating my story. 
No, I don't want to give you my life story but you asked
"Where are you from?"

Are you actually interested?
Or is that a form of small talk and you don't really care.
Or you could also be a wanderer too.
Lets talk.
Lets be friends.
Keep in touch, k? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Why I grieve for places I've lived in.

I left suddenly due to complications with visa (always my TCK conundrum) and it hasn't been easy dealing with it.

Tragedy struck Brussels.

For many days, I went through the gamut of emotions from feeling really lucky to sadness to anger to guilt.

Yes, Guilt. I feel guilty for having narrowly missed this kind of terrible acts of terror.

Then I started to feel helpless and isolated. As the city of Brussels is coming back together and breathing a new and beautiful community, I wanted to do something to help.

As I watch the security alerts and emails flow through from work. I wanted to do something. I needed to do something. The only thing that I can do is remain in contact with my coworkers in the office and continue working with the mantra "business as usual" and post images that give others inspiration.

I complained about my life in Brussels but it was all due to not adjusting to living there. I feel guilty for all of it. I started to adjust to life and had to leave when it became a new normal. We all go through periods of adjustment as a expat when moving to some place new.

Jakarta. There were explosions in January in the centre of the city near an area where there was the first McDonald's that opened in 1990 and I spent after school hanging out there with my childhood best friend eating happy meals then going to her house to play until I got picked up to go home for dinner. I was shocked at the explosion. Though I was so young when I lived there, the memories of that area really came flooding back. I grieved.

When hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, just a month after I left. I felt the same emotions of feeling helpless. I made a dance. I donated money to the red cross.

An ode to NYC danced by my lovely students. I grieved for leaving, I grieved for New York. I spent most of my adult life starting out in NYC and have so many stories and memories that I felt I needed to do something.

As a mobile Adult Third Culture Kid, I am very tired of hearing about acts of terror around the world, Mother Nature will do what she wants so I forgive her. But I hope to never have to 'mark myself safe' on Facebook ever again due to an attack.

Peace to the world.
Make love.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How many times do I have to tell "my TCK story" before it gets tiring

I moved again in December. Every move comes with the period of adjustment and I feel like I'm still adjusting. Along with that, is meeting new people. People mean well when they ask about "where are you from" however, its a small talk conversation for non-TCKs but a confusing long winding conversation for a global TCK. I keep thinking about... asking the person what they think about the weather, favorite color, where to eat, etc. just to deflect the question.

It seems like some people glaze over when I tell them my story. I sometimes think I'm boring them and/or think I'm boasting or lying... I don't know. Even more complicated to the "where I'm from story" is also the number of different kinds of jobs I have done thus far.

So here's a bulletproof summary:

  • Singapore->Indonesia->Singapore->Los Angeles->New York City->Singapore->Switzerland->Belgium
  • Multicultural heritage and culture family background with family scattered around the world
  • Attended private International and American Schools for K-12
  • Pitzer/Pomona ->UCLA
  • Performed as a contemporary dancer for various dance choreographers and dance companies in LA then New York City
  • Formed a dance collective
  • Founded a dance company
  • Performed, Choreographed, Directed productions and did some touring to festivals all over the New York area, Toronto, Washington DC, Edinburgh, Singapore, LA, etc.
  • Taught dance all over the world at studios, community centres, public schools, private schools, etc.
  • Speaker at 3 Families in Global Transitions conferences in Houston, Washington DC (twice)
  • Recipient of a grant by a private foundation (3x) for my productions of Chameleon and Habitat
  • Worked in nonprofit management (grant writing, Public relations, digital marketing, design, photography/videography, booking agent), telemarketing, retail sales, make up artistry, events, fine dining service, front desk for a hotel gym, lifestyle blogging, TV/Film extra, weddings, street team marketing for a yoga studio, and of course teaching dance - just to name a few - sometimes juggling 3-5 jobs
  • Postgraduate in Hospitality Management from Les Roches
  • and now... I'm a full-time social media intern for Carlson Rezidor group
This reads slightly like a resume (Check out my LinkedIn profile: PS. I am looking for a job starting in July/August) . But this is the most concise I've ever told my story publicly. I confuse myself sometimes. My hobbies and passions are many. I've not had a dream goal that I haven't accomplished yet. You know, I have to step back at life and take it for what it is. Its not a walk in the park. I have never taken an easy way. I have the choice to take an easy route but that has many consequences that I am not willing to sacrifice my independence for. 

I have always fought my way through to make things happen. I stress myself out sometimes with the winding difficult paths I tend to take even though there are easier ones. 

I just want a full life of little regrets. The older I get the more weary of answering "Where are you from?" as small talk. Or perhaps I'm disillusioned to think that people just want to make small talk and when it isn't... they are overwhelmed and can't handle it. 

I fall down a lot in life and feel very sad. Then I push myself through. The life I want to lead in my head and heart is simple. But somehow I always find myself in sticky complicated situations so I just stand and fight through life. Grit my teeth and just do because c'est la vie. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Favorite Travel Outfits

What constitutes as a favorite travel outfit? To me it is an outfit that is comfortable to walk around in all day, makes you feel confidant because you know you look cute, not too trendy because you want to be able to not feel like you're a walking anomaly. But comfort is of utmost importance when talking about shoes. I like to walk everywhere when I'm traveling so I don't want to be complaining about my feet when the blisters show up or getting sharp knee pains because the shock absorbancy of pavement is nonexistent.

Visa applications are my nemesis

I am buried in a sea of tabs open looking for jobs/internships/trainee programs in hospitality, travel and tourism, and even looking at alternative sectors that need hospitality related jobs such as events, F&B, conferences, etc. Anything and everything. Such is the conundrum and woe of the Adult Third Culture Kid that wants to live in countries other than the country of my nationality or my residence or where my family live. Sifting through every possibility. I'm once again reading carefully every requirement and job specification. I'm looking at visa requirements which are usually not listed. Language requirements. Getting a terrible headache from it all and manifesting the stress within my physical self as hives and illness and insomnia. Sigh. Gloom and doom.

I think TCKs can relate to the visa conundrum. Navigating the legal documents, appointments, etc. Not to mention, convincing your potential employer that you are worth the hassle. I know I am worth it but how do I convince the potential employer and a governing body?

I want to live in a place where I can feel relaxed, stable, comfortable. Where the quality of life is high on the balanced living richter scale. I want a steady career, no more hustling, and juggling for low-paying gigs for me. Thats a big draw for me to make a dramatic change of plans. A possibility to settle down and have children. (Children should always be exposed to different cultures and languages in this day and age - it will be my part for my future children to make sure they are multicultural polyglots)

I wish this world was an easier world to live in. Yesterday was the anniversary of 9/11. I remember that day vividly. I had just started my freshmen year of college in California and someone was yelling in the dorm hallways to tune into the news. Classes were canceled, people were walking around crying, we were all glued to the news and the tv, we sat talking for hours in the floor of our hallways, patriotism, candelight vigils. We were all very lost. But since that day, a lot has happened in the world. So much turmoil. Racism and discrimination is alive.

There is no such thing as utopia and a truly peaceful world unless it begins with us and our immediate surroundings. All of us have to do our own part to be more human. The pointing fingers and fear amongst us has to stop. It will make societies even more closed off.

Border controls will get even tighter and there is a bunch of global people like me that aren't there to make anyone's life a living hell. I can't help to get political on border controls because it affects my personal life. There are also some places that open too much on people without proper screening that does cause problems.

I'm going to stop ranting now. All the worlds' problems cannot be solved by ranting. All I can do is just hope for my personal sake that I am not left wandering the world alone with my suitcases because no country wants to take me in next year. (I'd like to stay in Scandinavia/Northern Europe so if any of you dear readers have contacts please help me!)

Note: I apologize for this rant. Next post will be more positive.

Berlin wall. East side Gallery. June 2015