Change and the City
For the past year I’ve been forced to adapt to a city that is supposedly my home. I’d never lived here until the age of 19, but because my family was born and raised here, it’s supposed to be my home too. The truth is, that’s not how it works. I’ve lived in three different countries with diverse and contrasting cultures, and up until now I’ve felt only the slightest bit argentine.
I’ve lived in three different countries with diverse and contrasting cultures, and up until now I’ve felt only the slightest bit argentine.
That’s when my adaption skills kicked in, as they do: I’m easily adaptable. I try to make the most of every move, so my time in each place is something memorable. But the difference with this move was that it could be the last. My parents were coming back soon. If I didn’t make the effort to somehow fit in and adapt to Buenos Aires, it would mean that the rest of my life could be spent somewhere I disliked: and that’s the last thing I wanted. Regardless, I was still not happy to leave India.
There are various stages to this. The first, is assuming you’re going to hate the new city because people will expect you to be a certain way, and you most definitely won’t. After that, comes making friends, getting to know your surroundings and realising that it’s not as bad as you thought it was. And finally, is realising that as much as you refused to even step foot in this place, you ended up adoring it and truly calling it your home.
I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone. Some TCKs (Third Culture Kids), can never really find a place where they feel comfortable, apart from with other TCKs themselves. But for me, I found that although as hard as I tried to distance myself from the new city, it inevitably grew on me. I went through a process of regeneration, almost. All those things that you were told when you were growing up, the particular way you were raised, which you seemed to share with almost no-one, suddenly made sense.
However, the question which haunted me from the beginning and still does to this day, is “Where do you come from?”. I know this is a typical TCK problem, but it really does matter. If I were to say that I’m from India, people would call me ridiculous, if I call myself English, people would think I’m trying to show off, and dare I say I’m from here, I’ll get asked what school I went to (to which I have no response but to say I finished high school in India) — setting off another set of questions.
Nevertheless, as much as I tried to fight it — the sense of fitting in here — I couldn’t. I had to start from scratch, make new friends, build a life. Now, people don’t believe that I’ve lived elsewhere, or that I’m actually made up of a melange of contrasting cultures, or that some native things still sound strange to me in my “home” country. Change in our lives is inevitable, and even though many times we try to fight it, it catches up with us. This doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all I’m made up of. I still have an open mind, and feel partly English and Indian, because living 12 years somewhere that is not your parents’ culture isn’t the easiest thing to forget, in fact, it’s an incredible base to grow from.
You have to look at the new stage in your life as something that enriches your life experience, not something that drags you down.
The best way to deal with change, therefore, I believe, is to let it take you where it has to. Going against it won’t get you anywhere- you’ll just end up in a slump that you can’t get out of. So what if it means changing your mindset slightly? You have to look at the new stage in your life as something that enriches your life experience, not something that drags you down. As unexpected or as planned as it could be, there’s always a way to make something out of it — even if it’s against your will. Buenos Aires seemed like the scariest jump yet, and now it’s turned out to be my biggest life lesson so far.