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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Scattered memories

I define home as the memories I created, create, and will create instead of a physical location. It is that state of being when I get to be myself wholly. What happens when you create scattered memories everywhere? I'm in a constant state of always going some place lately. Its a weird state to be in. I'm not sure if I wake up in Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, New York City, Germany, Finland, Holland, or some other country. (Been traveling a lot lately...)

I went back to Singapore this summer and it was certainly weird to be back there. I saw some of my friends but things are different. I am different. Its like watching a film unfold before my eyes. Nothing like going back to a place you used to live in and realizing you have changed.

When TCKs "return", there is that feeling that you can never go back to what it used to be. One does not simply relive a memory because life passes by and that memory is put into the vault of other memories.

Home is simply a changing concept for me. I am more and more at ease with feeling at home where I can feel comfortable.

At the present, I'm comfortable just being in my little corner of the world in the mountain. Not sure where I'll be next year. The uncertainty is quite nerve wrecking. I can't wait to settle down to a life less crazy than the one where I juggled a million jobs to support my creative habit ;-) (PS. I'm looking for a job! ;-) )

Brännö island, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden