Right now I find myself living 'in between' worlds!
England is 'home' to us but having lived in the States for three years, so much about there has become almost more familiar and normal to us ... but it is no longer home for our family. Tanzania will be the next place that will be home ... but yet not for a couple more months! So it leaves us floating somewhere in the middle!
Over this last week I've been acclimatising to what was once very familiar but as the years go by, living out of the UK, has become less so. In fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit at the moment there are probably more things that I prefer about life in the States than in the UK!!!
I miss the sheer space and size of things where we were in the States ... right now everything is feeling really small, closed in and claustrophobic. Houses are much closer together, roads narrower and much busier, shops smaller and more expensive, parking spaces minuscule and difficult to manoeuvre into ... and much more!
On the flip side there is a charm and quaintness about things here that I never found in the States. Little things are more familiar for example knowing which shops will sell the things you need (if they are still where they were last time you were back!). Or being able to eat different types of food that I haven't been able to get hold of since our last trip to the UK.
I have found myself using American English rather than British English expressions many times over the last week and today when we were out shopping we even went to an American chain restaurant for dinner so that we could enjoy the little familiar things, like booth's and free-refills!!! So, I guess there is some element of living in both places at once!
Being here in the UK is only temporary though and soon we will find ourselves in a culture which is neither American or British and I'm sure we'll find things that we miss from both cultures ... and find others things that we will enjoy even more about life in Tanzania once we become more accustomed with it.
I often wonder what the girls are making of all of the differences especially as they have never really had a chance to be 'at home' in the UK to begin with. They aren't fully familiar with their parents culture or the ones we have been living in but have their own 'in between' one.
That is where the term Third-Culture-Kid (TCK) comes from. Dr Useem coined the term and describes the third culture as ...
... a shared, or interstitial way of life lived by those who had gone from one culture (the home or first culture) to a host culture (the second) and had developed their own shared way of life with others also living outside their passport cultures.
Making the girls feel as 'at home' as possible, is one of the roles as both a missionary and parent that me and my husband take very seriously and are trying as hard as we can to make the girls as comfortable and as familiar with the different cultures as possible. No doubt there will be many an occasion where we will get it wrong and other times when we make our own family traditions that will cross the cultures instead of embracing any particular one.
Right now though, it all seems a bit strange as I'm feeling a little like an outsider in my own 'home culture'. I know from previous years that that will pass as we familiarize ourselves with everything again ... but each year it takes just that little bit longer!