A third-culture kid (TCK / 3CK) or trans-culture kid is "someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more cultures other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture."


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Packing – Human Kind’s Arch Enemy

On the summer of 2007, I was accepted to my number one choice to undertake Masters’ studies in Barcelona. Laws of attraction were in the works I suppose. Like most individuals who have grown up as a TCK, my travel shoes were getting itchy after spending over three years in one place. Although I enjoyed my time in the nation’s capital, I welcomed this new opportunity for a brand new journey overseas.

Among the least pleasurable aspects of concluding your affairs and transitioning to a new life is the move. Public servants and business executives that get shipped off to fulfill a greater mandate are certainly well looked after - even though they moan about the stress of moving. Just slap those post-its on what boxes destined to to storage, items shipped by sea and the rest via air cargo. Easy as pie. Their primary concern is whether they will be walking distance to the office and good shopping.

As a regular citizen, I think we can all agree that the moving process is as much fun as stapling your hand to a wall. Yes, ouch indeed. You are not going on vacation, and if you are a tall fellow like myself (I’m not fat… just big boned), a pair of shoes fills up your suitcase and you may have some space for dental floss. It’s not all dread though. Imagining what awaits you and the situations you may need to dress for, such as a new job, a date with a special Catalana or even just to go out for a jog.

Another element that would give more wrinkles to a dried prune is wondering, “Where am I going to stay?” You will soon realize that Loquo is filled with scam artists. I met a British expat over this online classified who was interested in renting a room out as long as I paid him through a charitable organization in Nigeria. Be careful out there people. I am not saying don’t trust others… just be a little extra careful or your adventure will seem like another chapter in Mr. Magoo’s diary.

I was lucky as well. Through this same service, I met a friendly Argentine gentleman with a room to spare for a month and was a property manager in a few buildings in the urban area. I did of course HAVE to trust that human nature was to be charitable. I discovered later on, he had been in my same shoes several years before when he moved from Argentina to the old world. As I have said before, there are always angels around you especially when you least expect it. Patience is key.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lisbon – The Queen Of The Sea

Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, Lisbon is not only a city with an exciting history dating back to the Roman and Phoenician Empires, but boasts a modern vibrant culture. Lisbon is a global city as it is an important finance, commerce, arts, international trade and tourism hub. The metropolitan area of this capital city actually houses a whopping one-third of the country’s population.

One of the many pedestrian walkways of Lisbon

Of course, my only point of reference for Portugal before visiting in 2007 was Brazil. Silly, I know but there are some very interesting similarities to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo – besides the fact they speak Portuguese (wink wink). When you walk along the many pedestrian walkways and preciously manicured sidewalks, it doesn’t take much to imagine these same patterns that decorate the boardwalk of world famous Copacabana beach. Another common misconception is that Portugal as a whole is just an extension of its Iberian neighbour.

The city centre is quite packed in – for lack of a better explanation – and the advantage of this is that the main touristy locations are a short walk away from each other. There really is no better method to get a better sense of life in the capital. The churches are prime examples of a rich architectural history if you happen to overlook the Roman walls. The Sé Cathedral of Lisbon dates back to the Reconquista in 12th Century and the Castelo São Jorge uses foundations from the Roman Empire but was originally erected in the 11th Century, just to mention a couple of examples.

One of my favourite sites is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an immense Manueline-style monastery named after Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators. This was very fitting as at the time since I was a translator and interpreter (as opposed to an “interpretator” which I am not sure exactly what they do). The building is lavishly decorated, as it was once a Royal funerary during Spanish occupation, noticeable by the many tombs (I have a keen eye for detail). Vasco de Gama is also buried here for all you discovery nuts!

The Monument to the Discoveries and the monastery of Saint Jerome in the background

Walking along the Tagus River, there are two more pieces of eye candy. The more obvious one (you’ll know what I mean when you go there or if you have been there) is the Golden Gate Bridge’s sister, the 25th of April Bridge, connecting each end of the bay. The second, another personal favourite, is the Monument to the Discoveries, a proud display of heroic Portuguese ventures across the mean seas on raggedy boats. Discover this true sovereign of the Atlantic… I highly recommend it!