My TCK Story: Third Culture Pilot


We interviewed our good friend @thirdculturepilot (on Instagram) about his third culture kid story!

Question 1: Where were you born?

TCP: I was born in the small town of Marburg, Germany (The Brothers Grimm, who wrote Hänsel & Gretel, as well as other famous fairytales, studied there!) while my mom was born in Austria and my dad in Sri Lanka!

Question 2: Where have you lived?

TCP: For the most of my time, I lived in Marburg, followed by Frankfurt, Germany during my time in University after high school. I then moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to work as Cabin Crew for their flag carrier. After that, I moved back to Germany to start my flight training. Once I got my first job I had to move to Amsterdam in the Netherlands for a short while, followed by Barcelona, Spain, eventually ending up in Prague, Czech Republic where I live and work now!

Question 3: Where is home to you?

TCP: Tough question, as most TCKs who read this most likely, can relate to… I lost the sense of feeling home somewhere specifically a long time ago. To me home means, where I feel happy. This is pretty much everywhere, where I get to spend time with my close friends and family. I would say I am flexible about that and I can make myself genuinely comfortable pretty much anywhere — I am always up for something new!

Question 4: Has being a TCK inspired you to become a pilot?

TCP: I would say yes to some extend. Being born a TCK in the small town in Germany meant that I had a much better understanding of the big world waiting outside of our town compared to most kids whose families had lived only there for generations. Pretty much nobody dreamt of exotic places to visit or other countries to work in.

I, however, was always hungry to see and learn more about the world around me, simply because my family and I used to travel a lot visiting relatives in the UAE, Sri Lanka and Australia. Having family all over made me feel at home anywhere and I was excited every time we boarded an airplane, as this opened the world so much to me, and also connected me with the ones I love. Having this understanding of the connected globe so early on and seeing that air travel makes all that possible and that it is something international, I knew that flying is what I wanted to do, to stay in exactly this open-world forever.

Question 5: How does being a pilot affect your lifestyle?

TCP: It affects me a lot. But in my opinion, pretty much only in good ways. I work on a 5 days on, 4 days off pattern, while being home after every day of work, leaving me with an incredible amount of time at hands, which I can use for so many things other than work. Generally, the job also doesn‘t come with much stress, as almost everything that happens at work, will be solved at work and won‘t affect me once I get home. This all would change drastically once I might decide to move to a long haul carrier, where I would be gone for several days in a row. But of course, connected to other benefits.

In the end, it comes down to you, how well you can adjust, how flexible you are and what you wish for. It can be a pretty amazing lifestyle, but only if it suits who you are. For me, that is the case — and I am grateful beyond words to be able to live this at 25.

Question 6: What is the best part about being a pilot?

TCP: I always describe the feeling that I have when I get up at (way too early) 3am, to be at a briefing at 4:45am and then see the sunrise from the flight deck at 5:30am, while sitting back and having my breakfast over the clouds. Everything is so quiet and peaceful then and once the initial take-off and climb phase is completed, and you can relax a bit, it really all comes together so perfectly and I just can‘t help but feel incredibly happy. 11/10

Question 7: What is the best learning you have received by being a third culture kid?

TCP: Understanding that the world is one big connected place. Understanding that people from anywhere are not that different. That we all share the same dreams and hopes of a better future and that if we open our hearts to everyone around us, we all live a happier life. Too many people just can‘t see outside of their country and understand the bigger picture and rather categorize the things they don't know in black or white, hiding themselves away behind the walls they build, afraid to be exposed to the real big world. I am glad I was born as part of many cultures, open to all the others, there are.

Question 8: Does being a pilot influence you to wanting to settle in one place more or less?

TCP: Probably. I actually don‘t feel like settling anywhere. I do enjoy traveling a lot and I also find joy in moving to new places, starting over new, again and again. It keeps me entertained and gives me the chance to keep learning.

Question 9: What does home mean to you?

TCP: I would refer to point 3 for this :-)

Question 10: What are some challenges you’ve faced as a TCK

TCP: It is hard being a child and growing up in a different world compared to all the kids and friends around you. Not that they were wrong, but many just couldn‘t understand my views as they have not been exposed to other places or cultures yet. This might sound weird, but I remember eating a mango in primary school and friends asking me what fruit that is, just because their parents would never buy that! To them it was exotic, to me it was the fruit my grandmother always prepared for me fresh out of her garden when we visited her in Sri Lanka.

Other than this I was of course faced with racism many times, which hurt because I felt German but then had to realize that others didn‘t agree. As a TCK you feel stuck between worlds, as you naturally integrate easily but others don‘t let you in, simply out of wariness.

Question 11: Does being a TCK help you in your career? If so, how? If not, Why?

TCP: I think so very much. Being a pilot means being part of a big multinational and multicultural environment. People from all over the world work together on the highest levels of safety and respect. Being a TCK made it easy to adapt to new people and new backgrounds. It was the perfect way to grow into this career naturally!

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