Sighs of Knowing not Knowing #thirdculturekid
Whenever people would ask me where I was from, the dreaded “sigh, here we go again” would enter my mind. It was never an easy one-liner-answer-and-move-on-to-the-next-question kind of reply, it always started with
Person: “Where are you from?” Me: “I’m from Manila”
*Person stares at me weirdly, as if thinking “How??”*
Actually, that happened to me one time. Someone asked me HOW I was Filipino.
They were referring to my chinky eyes, that were seemingly not Filipino. Understandable.
Me: “I’m half-Chinese, half-Filipino”
Person: “Ohhhh, okay. But your English is so good! Did you study in Canada?”
Me: “No, but I moved to Hong Kong, and it’s quite international so I believe I picked it up from there.”
It seemed like an interesting situation, except since it happened every. single. time…it would make you want to print out one of those cards and just hand it to people upon meeting.
Fellow TCK would understand this common scenario. The trouble would be more so when you travel together, TCK’s from literally all parts of the world.
I went to Bali one time, and of course, being a friendly Asian tourist spot, the locals would always, always ask us where we’re from - cab driver from the airport to waiters.
In the beginning, we all voiced out where we were from “Hong Kong” “Singapore” “Indonesia” “Malaysia” “London” “California”. Told you, all parts of the world, almost.
Eventually, we all got sick of it and someone would just respond with “Everywhere, we’re from everywhere.”
Being with TCK’s is always an adventure. The conversations never end, because each one has something interesting to share, from culture, food, politics, everything and anything.
Probably that’s where I got my mixed accent, which changes often, depending on who I talk to. It’s as if I slowly pick up the accent of whoever I talk to all the time.
Thus, it could be quite confusing, trust me. I would be out with my friends, then my mother would call me, and poof, as if there’s a button that automatically switches the language and tone of voice. Once the call ends, poof, back to my other accent.
It’s a struggle whenever I travel (since I constantly hop from Manila to Hong Kong). There’s always this “adjustment period” (my friends know this) that happens. I always get the side of the escalator wrong, the position of the driver’s seat, name of the trains (It’s called MRT in Manila and MTR in Hong Kong), as if I have no sense of direction.
The constant hopping from one place to another messes, not only with your directions but also your connections.
It’s difficult for me, personally, to click with local Hong Kongers. Rarely have I built a connection with a local, except if he, too, is a TCK. It’s just so different with locals. Don’t get me wrong, they’re nice people, but I’ve never built a strong bond with a local local before.
My personal dictionary:
Local Local = a super local Hong Konger that has lived in Hong Kong all his life, proficiency in English is not so great
International Local = a local Hong Konger but studied abroad - London, US and Canada (top 3)
You would be able to see the difference in Hong Kong Island side and Kowloon side. Hong Kong Island side is more of an International Local hub while Kowloon side if more of a Local Local spot.
(For those who aren’t familiar, here is a diagram) I tried clubbing in Kowloon side before, in this place called “Why Club” and after my experience, I asked myself the same question.
“WHY. Why did I do this” It felt so foreign, from the way people looked, to the way people danced, to the type of music, and the tables in the club - they had dice games (very Asian). It was so different from my clubbing experiences in the Island side.
On the Island side, it’s the typical scenario, dancing, Top 40 hits playing (normally I wouldn’t approve but after my experience from the other side, I would gladly settle), just drinks and all fun.
All fun until your TCK friends have to leave again, which is the downside. By the time you’ve built a strong bond with them (which often happens in a short span of time), your TCK friends have to hop to another place.
(I know I can’t be a hypocrite about it but that’s just the sad truth) But no matter what, Warning: Cliche incoming. I truly know these people are the ones that I can always count on.
Except when they’re mid-air traveling from one place to another.
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