July 23, 2017

I never DID fit in...

If you ask me where home is my answer is Switzerland. I spent most of my life living in the four different lingustic parts of this tiny little country and Swiss German is as much part of my identity as English.

I'll spare the details if it might be American or British English because it is a mix of both as I am what nowadays you call a TCK. The term of Third Culture Kid was still not invented when I grew up, it would have made things a whole lot easier because I could have fit in.

Being a foreign kid in Zürich in the 1970s was not always an easy affair not even with a perfect Zürischnurre (the local dialect) which sounded so local my high school friends later teased me about it.

As a young teenager I would have given everything for my mum to speak German rather than English to me while in public. My dad loved speaking Swiss German with his broad American accent only to embarrass me in front of my friends.

I never quite fit into the Swiss German mould. I did not know how to define myself but I remember wishing I could find some like-minded peers.

Turns out the two companions I made during my Primary years - who both seemed as exotic to the Swiss as myself thanks to a foreign parent - are still my two closest friends today.

Looking back on my dad's efforts and my mother's total insouciance of adapting to the locals makes me smile. They had moved to Switzerland with the goal of carving out a better future for their kids allowing us to grow up multilingual and feeling at home in various cultures.

Today I am proud and comfortable to be different. All those childhood experiences made me the person I am now. I speak different languages and enjoy adapting to foreign cultures but it hasn't always been an easy ride.

However, the world has become a much smaller place and it is so much easier for my kids to fit in... mainly because somewhere along the line the mould has been thrown out!

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