About

Thank you for visiting,  I hope you will stop back often.  The stories in my blog are, for the most part, not in my book.  I also have a second blog at Eclectic Global Nomad.

“By the time I was 18, I had only lived in the United States for a total of three years. When I started college in  California, I experienced severe “reverse” culture shock.  At the time I had no way of understanding it or preparing for it.  Because I had grown up overseas, I had had a completely different experience than American kids my age.

When I arrived for my freshman year in college, I talked about traveling around Europe, hiking up Swiss mountains, and living in Africa. My college peers talked about football games, high school proms and television shows I had never heard of.  I could not relate to them at all and they thought I was bragging about all the places I had been.  It never occurred to me why they would think that; to me my life was ordinary.  To them I was like an alien landing in their dorm room and talking about visiting the rings of Saturn.

After college, I spent the next 19 years in the U.S. and although I had many close friends and good experiences, I never got over the feeling that I was different.  I always knew I really wanted to live abroad – that I BELONGED somewhere else.  Of course during those 19 years, I lived in six different cities and 10 different apartments. I think I was always looking for that place I belonged. I always had the feeling that I was searching for something.  I was different. I wasn’t really American and I wasn’t really foreign. What was I? I was an ex-pat. I was an ex-patriot by birth and by culture and I was looking for my com-patriots.

When I was in my 40’s, married, and living with my son and husband in Moscow, I discovered a group called Global Nomads. Global nomads are also called Third Culture Kids or in common parlance, Ex-pat brats. The definition of a Global Nomad is someone who grew up in countries other than their passport-country due to their parents’ jobs.  I was cruising the Internet and came across an article written by Norma McCaig about being a Global Nomad.  I had spent my whole life thinking there was something wrong with me and this article described me in a detail nobody could have known.  McCraig felt everything I felt.  She had the same experiences I had.  I didn’t think there was another person on earth who understood how I felt.  It was truly my “ah ha” moment.  This is what I had been looking for.”

93 comments

  1. I absolutely love your new blog, and the name “Expat Alien!” So glad to have found it. I’ve added your blog to my blogroll section on Third Culture Kids, and I will try to be a regular reader.

    1. I read your opening blurb of your book with much interest. You mentioned a physician in Burma by the name of Dr. Dunn with the SDA hospital. I happen to be Dr. Robert Dunn’s daughter, and grew up in Burma myself. I identify with a lot of the emotions you describe for ExPats who have lived much of their lives overseas.

  2. So glad to meet you! I’ve lived most of my life overseas as well and now I’m dragging my two-year old twins around the world, too, and I wonder how this life-style will turn out for them. I look forward to learning from you, not only for my own experience but looking forward to my kids’ as well.

  3. I’m a journalist who’s interviewed TCKs and am fascinated by them. I grew up in Canada but have lived in five countries. I think the cultural ease TCKs acquire is very cool.

  4. Many of us who never felt we quite fit in for whatever reason are “finding our tribe” in cyberspace. Writing memoir is a powerful way to uncover the value and power of those differences. Welcome to the Tribe of Life Writers.

  5. I can relate closely to your experience as an Expat Alien. I was born in England, but have spent my life back and forth between England, mainly Mexico, and five cities in the U.S. – and never belonged anywhere. While I feel more Latina, my appearance and accent identify me in the U.S. as British. I feel and am seen as a foreigner wherever I am , have never voted, had a home of my own, or set down roots, and felt lost and different until I heard about Global Nomads and found many others like you and me.

  6. I love your story! I can relate a bit–I was part of that expat community for a few years when we lived overseas (and I–unwittingly– STILL bore my friends with comments about life abroad). I remember discussing with other truly roaming expat mothers what the consequenses would be for their children. It was determined (with the aid of a magazine article) that these children would grow to be easily adaptable, tolerant adults with wonderful people skills. So—are you? :-)

  7. I love your blog. I can relate to almost everything that you say, although I left USA through my own choice when I was an adult (more or less an adult—I feel that prior to leaving I was still a child in a lot of ways). I’m sending your blog addy to my two daughters whom I raised abroad; I know they’ll relate completely. Best of luck in your memoir.

  8. Incredible. Such a familiar theme to my life (although you have been to so many different places than I have and for much longer….and I find myself envious, haha). And that “where are you from?” question? Is always so hard for me. Made even more difficult by the fact that I now live in Maine, where “where you’re from” can be a real sticking point! So glad I found your blog via my guest post on Emma’s — so nice to meet you!

    1. Yes, the eternal question. My brother was born in Nebraska so he always told people he was from Nebraska. Then one day he met somebody who was actually from Nebraska and they asked my brother all kinds of questions he could not answer!

  9. I just commented on your Mills post; should have started here first. I’m an third culture kid too! I may have been born in Southern California, but I don’t really feel like I grew up there. Although I went some to an American high school in England, it really wasn’t your typical American high school experience. Will definitely look up the McCraig article.

    And now we’re almost neighbours! Small world this is.

  10. Wanted to share another TCK memoir with you: Anthony H. Roberts’ Sons of the Great Satan. He was all set for his senior year in Tehran when his world fell apart in the face of the Iranian Revolution and American Hostage Crisis.

  11. ….will follow with interest as I have 2 expat brats in the making! (living in Belgium and France, with a dutch father and english mother) who are already talking about living and learning all over the world. I agree, it’s a great experience, and I see my kids already as ‘Europeans’ and world citizens! Keep up the great blog, I’ll be passing by often…..

  12. Hi! I would love to review your book when it is finished! I’m a third culture kid too and just like you I suffered a severe “reverse culture shock” when I went to university in the Netherlands. Recently I have a started writing about my experiences on my blog. Just like you I can really identify with the books about third culture kids and written by TCKs.

  13. I am so happy to have found this blog. Being a global nomad, I have lived out of the USA for more of my life than I have lived in the USA. Now I am raising my children the same way. My son leaves for college to the US in a few months while I will still be in Malaysia. I do believe that the cyber space has closed the gap a bit compared to when I was growing up, but I don’t kid myself for a moment. He will experience reverse culture shock too. I can’t wait to browse your site. Thanks!

  14. Kathy–I loved your blog! Corbin was excited to read it also. Please come visit us–we are so close! I will be expecting to hear from you with a date of your arrival!

    Cousin Jennifer

  15. I know how you feel. I left my home country decades ago, visit regularly, but have never lived there again. Lived in many other countries, and now feel rather foreign in my own country. I don’t know where I belong anymore. Actually, I do, but it is not a geographical place, it’s in the company of other expats and global nomads in any location. We share a similar background and similar experiences and that’s what makes me feel I belong.

  16. Hey, thanks for the blog award! I just arrived back from holidays, what a superb surprise, and much appreciated. Glad you thought I was worthy. :)

  17. I felt like an alien, too, when my parents emigrated from England to the U.S. and plopped me down in Pennsylvania, and my being shy made it worse. England was all I knew, but talking about it made the other kids think I was bragging. They made fun of me, so I never really fit in. Oddly enough, I finally felt at home when I moved to another island—Hawaii. Until then it was quite a struggle. I’m so glad I found your blog so that I can read everyone’s “moving” and adapting stories :)

  18. Thank you for following me on Twitter :) Isn’t it an amazing ‘ah ha’ moment when everything you’ve felt and experienced actually makes sense? My major in intercultural communication definitely helped me learn more importantly about myself, and how our identities are shaped through culture. If you’re interested, please feel free to read my guest blog post on Melibee Global: http://melibeeglobal.com/2012/06/reflections-on-being-a-third-culture-kid-tck/ I currently intern through Melibee and will be writing a second post within the month.

    Thanks again!

  19. Hi Kathy,

    I just read your book. I enjoyed it and of course resonated to much of it. I have five countried of childhood and lived in Moscow from 1968-9. We may even have met at the 2003 GN conference! Poor Norma was really in a lot of pain then – do you remember?

    I am just discovering EFT and wanted to tell you about it because it could help you completely clear the trauma you experienced in the plane crash, and it could do so in just a few sessions. Try googling it: Emotional Freedom Technique. There are experienced practitioners who will work with you through Skype. It’s a fabulous technique, and one I am planning to learn.

    I wish you a speedy recovery!

    Shasha

  20. What a fascinating life! I grew up here but traveled a lot and have always felt different from my friends as I don’t have many that travel like I do. I can only imagine what a shock it was to come here at 18! Where do you live now?

      1. Cool! My husbands family lives in Virginia and used to be in Maryland so I’m familiar with that area. It is much more international than MN but Minneapolis is getting better. I do love living here for now as the quality of life is great. Wonderful nature and lakes, culture, restaurants and more diversity. I’ll be out east for Christmas this year. My sister and her family live near Williamsburg then we head to VA for the rest of the family. :)

        1. It is a diverse area and I like that. My son goes to one of the most diverse high schools in the country. Plus there are a lot of museums and stuff. I hope you have a good time!

  21. Wow, you lived in the US for 18 years after HS? Wow! I too am a TCK, US born with US parents but moved away at 3. I lasted in the US post-Certenago for 5 years until I finally graduated from college then immediately joined the Peace Corps. I’ve been working around the world since then, currently in AT/EG (what a combination to fly back and forth to). I just ordered your book from Amazon, I look forward to it!

  22. Hi Kathleen, thanks for introducing yourself by following our site. We look forward to exploring yours! One of our team is an “airforce brat” and now our own work has brought us to live on 4 continents over the years. We’re now in India, but when we lived in Paris we learned about “third culture kids”, which really had an impact on our 2 sons’ lives. (This post might resonate for you too: http://raxacollective.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/pico-iyer-global-soul/) Cheers!

  23. I love ex-patriots! Is that a weird thing to say? The idea of someone being brave enough to brake the mold and say that they love their country but love the world in general is simply inspiring. And embracing your label and running with it is even better. Definitely following your blog!

    1. I’m glad you found me! I hope you enjoy the book. Best of luck in China – it could be a challenge with three children but as long as you stay open and positive you will have a blast.

  24. Hi Kathleen! So sorry I hadn’t replied to your message, I have been crazy busy with my wedding and honeymoon! I saw your book on the Tasis website, and wow! You truly define our experience there! Amazing! So glad to meet you!

  25. Hi,

    I really enjoyed reading through your blog posts on Expatalien.com.. I got a real sense of enthusiasm and passion in each post. Actually, I run Travelingtripster.com, a blog about my travel experiences. If you’re interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Just shoot me quick a e-mail and we can begin this potentially exciting affiliation together. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Bob

  26. It’s been too long since someone commented here. Just wanted to say I read your book twice and, aside from being a fascinating tale, it is very well written and remarkably free of grammatical errors and other suchlike that mar self-published books. I think you should kiss your editor if you had one.

  27. I just found your blog via you finding me on Goodreads, and am so glad. Love your story and will now check out your book. I feel many of the same things you feel, and I think my kids are going through some of that too. Instead of everyone being wowed by their having ridden on elephants and hiked Kilimanjaro and swum with sharks, they are regarded as weird because their accents sound funny and because they don’t quite fit in. But trust me, they’re trying their best blending in and becoming more American than everyone around them, which is really a pity but that’s what kids do.

    1. Yes, we adapt to survive. But have no fear, we don’t forget. My son was six when we moved back to the USA and he is 18 now. He is still a little “different”. I suppose it is partly the parents’ fault as well. :)

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