Marta has realized her kids are TCK - but what does that even mean? Find out about the TCK concept and how it might impact your own expat family. Plus, she shares some tips for any expats moving to Turkey...
I’m Marta, from Barcelona, married to my Italian soulmate Davide and raising our two beloved boys cross-cultural. We first met in Switzerland and lived in Italy, Holland, and Barcelona.
The last two years, we enjoyed our first expat experience with our kids in Istanbul and now are waiting to take the next plane to start our new adventure in Brazil.
TCK + Expat Kids
I must admit that everything changed when we moved with kids. As a mother, living the change through their eyes has been really meaningful and got me from the first day. I just was so impressed by the way they adapt, behave, and feel.
Right away, they wanted to understand more: what were the advantages they could experience in international education but also the challenges we were exposed to.
So I learned the TCK (Third Culture Kids) and ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kids) concept and started to work with them to exploit it.
I was fascinated by how, as a mother/educator, I could help these little ones to develop and grow to be their best. Or maybe I was just looking for protection. I wanted to be sure that their childhood would not be different from others due to all these changes or at least that they wouldn’t feel it that much.
At the same time, this was also the first time I stopped working and become a full-time mother and an expat wife. I understood what it was to spend so many hours with myself and kids and had time to reorganize priorities in life.
I’m an easy-going person and adaptable to any environment but, to me, the real big change was the one I experienced inside. Any expat move gave me a bit of this…when I moved alone, I become my own best friend, now I feel I have become a better mother for my kids.
Then I started sharing all this and looking for information and other experiences…and I found the perfect place online. And this is how ‘lostinculture’ was born only some months ago! I already feel that, for this move, I’m not alone and maybe a bit more prepared to help my kids and overcome the difficulties!
Regarding the experience itself, Turkey is a country of contrasts. Expectations were really high since Istanbul was one of my fav cities as a tourist. The experience overcame all expectations, even if at the same time culture and language were sometimes challenging.
Tips for Expat Kids in Turkey
Here are some TCK tips if you move to Turkey with your family…
- You will be unnoticed. Your kids will take all the attention. I knew Turkey was a ‘kid-friendly’ county but I couldn’t expect how much they love kids. I need to admit that when we were traveling back to Europe, our sons were surprised that not everyone was playing and talking to them in the streets.
- Enjoy the food. All local food we tasted was amazing, starting with sweets but also bread, vegetables, yoghurt, and cheese.
- Learn the word ‘tamam’. It means ok, but be careful and patient, not always the literal meaning was applied…be familiar with Google translation and go father to that ‘tamam’, schedule concrete appointments.
- History. You’ll feel the importance that this city had over the centuries in every corner. Architecture, colors, smells and the influence of being in the middle of two continents with the mix that it represents. Enjoy it!!
- Private health care is pretty good. You’ll be at home or even better in many hospitals!
- Deniz (sea) and Bosphorus. As ‘Orhan Pamuk’ said: ‘Life can’t be all the bad’ I’d think from time to time. ‘Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the Bosphorus’…please just do it! And take a ‘vapuru’, you will feel a local and enjoy fantastic views!
- Stray animals. Even if you will get used to it with time, be ready to find dogs and cats all around!
- Learn to maneuver. Prepare to find any crazy maneuver even in highways and be ready to dodge any street seller or animal including cows and horses.
- Say YES. Don’t say no to chai, simit and Turkish coffee, they are just worth it.
- Explore. Take time to discover it little by little - there are many cities in one! Remember there are 18M people, so sometimes will feel crowded.
- Be ready for ice cream. At every corner, you’ll find them and they are really tasty (and this comes from an Italian family). They love to tempt you and kids will be pushy about it.
- Fitting in. Even if is a Muslim country, secular Turks are really close to us. They are welcome and warm, you’ll be part of the locals really fast!
- Hammam. Take a hammam at latest once, Turkish baths are excellent.
- Farther afield. Go out of Istanbul if you have the possibility, the whole country deserves a visit.
- Feel at home. And, these days, my older son is telling us that his flag is the Turkish one, not mine, not my husband’s…he has his own and it is the Turkish flag!! So be prepared for a big patriotic impact on your family.
What has been one of the most memorable experiences for your TCK? Would love to see what else you would include in this list.