I wasn’t even in pre-school when I began my life as a TCK. Born and (barely) raised in Canada, I was off to the United States at age 3. My first ever memories are from the years that I lived in the US – Canada wasn’t even on my radar. As far as I was concerned, I was American (despite the parents telling me otherwise). We lived in one of the Southern states, so “y’all” and grits were a big part of my life. We lived in the US for all of 5 years. This brings me to age 8, if you’re doing the math. It was at this age when I received the worst news of my 8-year-old life: we’re moving to Japan. Little did I know, I would grow to love Japan and all the other countries I would live in. But as an 8-year-old with a best friend I’d had since I was 4… it was traumatizing. I was going to lose my friends, my home, my sports teams forever. I can still remember the day I called my best friend to tell her that I was going to be moving. I didn’t cry. I was strong. It wasn’t until I was actually in Japan that it hit me: I wouldn’t be returning home – this was not another vacation.
These people don’t speak English… they drive on the wrong side of the road! …But they’re really nice… and the food is amazing! Authentic ramen, gyoza, tempura, mmmmm…. I quickly fell in love with Japanese candy and snacks: onigiri quickly became one of my favourites. And the stationary… oh the stationary.
Luckily, having gone to an international school in the US, I had become somewhat accustomed to kids of all ethnicities. I didn’t know back then, but international schools are a God-send to TCKs. Other kids who are experiencing the same lifestyle as you, who can relate to and share in all of your experiences in foreign countries. It was through my friends from school that I got to explore Japan from a young girl’s perspective (purikura anyone?).
What was most different about my life in Japan, was the independence. At such a young age I was allowed to bike with my brother and my friends to anywhere we wanted – my parents didn’t have to worry. I remember riding my bike a good 5-10 minues to Lawson to grab ice cream, and exploring a major street to find a flower shop to buy flowers for my mom on mother’s day. That’s something you can’t do in the US!
Good things don’t last forever, though… because 2 years after moving to Japan came another life-changing announcement….