Looking back at part 1 of this series, we can see how Madi Soler’s life as a Domestic Third Culture Kid within different states in the United States affected her as a whole. As we move forward, we’re going to take a look at immigrant kids who have lived internationally and moved to the United States during their youth.
From Sea to Sea
Susan Hsin, twenty-year-old college student attending Colorado State University, has experienced first-hand just how impactful moving internationally can be. Hsin moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, U.S.A. in 2004 at just three-years old all the way from Taipei, Taiwan. Despite her young age, Hsin still faced the struggles any immigrant child would.
As I sat down for an interview with Hsin, she opened my eyes to how despite her young age when moving, she still struggled adjusting to U.S. culture. She explained how upon hearing about the move, she felt infuriated. Nothing about coming to the US sounded appealing to Hsin due to the foreign nature of it all. She had to deal with separation anxiety from her parents during preschool and felt as if they were the only ones who understood how she felt.
According to Sally Yolanda from InterNations in an article titled “The Triumphs and Tribulations of being a Third Culture Kid”, when raising a TCK or immigrant child, “you really need to be in their shoes to understand how they feel.” Hsin felt her parents experienced the same emotions she did and therefore latched onto them. Having someone you are close to experiencing the same hardships makes it easier to transition and feel heard.
Moving into elementary school, Hsin began adapting to US culture a little bit more. However, in doing so, she found herself giving up some of the aspects she loved about her Taiwanese culture. For example, she felt like she should be bringing a specific type of food to lunch like the other kids. She gave up her mom’s food that she loved for food she did not like, simply to fit in. Assimilating to the host country can often feel like putting on a front. This idea from “ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE: Third Cultured Kids and Their ‘Stabilizing Factors’” expressed by Aman Singh illustrates how Ko, TCK, puts on a cap by “acting more Japanese…in order to assimilate to the Japanese culture.” So many TCKs and immigrant kids face the struggle of pretending to act a certain way in order to avoid unwanted attention.
Finding the Balance
As Hsin grew up more, she started to see the intertwining of U.S. American culture and Taiwanese culture within herself. She had a well-established life in Colorado, while still incorporating Taiwanese culture into her life. Hsin discloses that her mother encouraged her to utilize her Chinese language within their home. She also continued to eat traditional Taiwanese food at home made by her mother and practice Taiwanese values like respecting your elders. Additionally, with frequent trips back to Taiwan, Hsin continued to feel connected to Taiwanese culture.
Although the adjustment period proved to be difficult for Hsin, she confirms her appreciation for how her childhood turned out. Hsin explains how “western and eastern regions have such different cultures which expanded [her] knowledge and experiences by being able to be a part of both.”
“I am absolutely so proud of my multicultural background and I’m so grateful that I am here. I truly appreciate this reality with every cell in my body.” -Susan Hsin
Susan Hsin, 2021 on the benefits of being an immigrant child.
Through comparing Madi Soler’s feelings about her life as a TCK and Susan Hsin’s feelings about hers, we can easily establish the immense similarities. Both women recognize the value in their cross-cultural lives and share a great appreciation for them. As we progress into the third article of this series with immigrant child, Daniella Nietzen, we will dive deeper into how cross-culture can affect how a child grows up.