Personal Blog

Growing Up As A Third Culture Kid - Shreya Sachdev

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a nice day. For todays blog post, I wanted to talk about what it’s like growing up as a third culture kid. As many of you know, my parents are from New Delhi, India, but I have never actually lived in India nor have an Indian passport anymore. I was actually born in Marseille, France, and then moved to Paris, France shortly after. I then moved to Geneva, Switzerland which is where I lived for ten years. Due to the fact that I lived there for so long, I ended up getting a Swiss passport. As a result, I’ve definitely struggled to decide which place I call home and often hesitate to answer when people ask me where I’m originally from. That’s why I thought it would be interesting for me to discuss what it’s like to be a third culture kid and let you guys know which country I feel the most comfortable calling my “home.” If any of you are also third culture kids, then be sure to let me know what your experience has been growing up, whether or not you hesitate to call one specific place your home, and all the countries you familiarize yourself with. Without further ado, let’s get started!

As I said above, I was born in Marseille, France. Interestingly enough, even though that’s where I was born, I could never call Marseille my home. In fact, I find it so strange that I was even born there. I haven’t been to Marseille in eleven or twelve years, and I barely remember anything from there. I have blurry memories of sitting in a pram and my mother taking me to the grocery market or to the mall, but that’s about it. I also don’t really remember my house except I remember that my parent’s room and our living room had a sliding door that connected both rooms. Due to the fact that I barely remember anything from Marseille, I definitely don’t answer “Marseille” when people ask me where I’m from or when people ask me which place I would call home. The place that I would, however, call home is Paris. I suppose the reason as to why I feel closer to Paris than Marseille is because when I was in Marseille, I was too young to be able to properly remember my childhood or clearly remember my life. On the other hand, when I was in Paris, I was seven to eight years old and therefore have an easier time remembering my life back then. I remember every inch of the apartment I stayed in as well as the friends i had in my school. I even remember the different projects I did in school and the restaurants, malls, and streets that I would go to. Most importantly, however, I remember how I was genuinely sad to leave Paris and move to Geneva. That goes to show you that in some ways, I was attached to Paris since I did not want to leave.

When I moved to Geneva, I obviously had to move to a new house and start a new school. I remember that I really liked my new school and I had no problem making friends. Lucky for me, I made a best friend who was in my class and she lived just ten minutes away from me. I would sleep over at her house every other week and we would have playdates extremely often. I became not only close to her, but her family as well. Therefore, I would say that I had an easy transition to Switzerland. I ended up living there for very long (ten years) and I can safely say that Geneva will always be a big part of my life. I made lots of relationships there and because I spent my teenage years there, I learnt a lot about friendships, school, relationships, heartbreak, and a lot more. In Paris, I feel as if I only have happy memories from (probably because I was so young) whereas from Geneva, I have a lot more memories that also include pain and sadness, but in a good way. This makes sense since I spent my middle school years and high school years in Geneva. Now, if you were to ask me which one between Paris and Geneva I would rather call home, then I would honestly say Paris. This is because even though I feel very close to both places and have in fact lived in Geneva longer, Paris was always my first home and is the place where I feel as if I became a proper “person” with thoughts and feelings. To me, Geneva is more of a place of comfort than home. I know every place, every person, and every inch of my little town because I’ve lived here for ten years.

Now, India. As you guys know, my parents are from New Delhi, India, and I grew up constantly visiting India every other holiday to see my grandparents and cousins. Despite living in Europe for eighteen years, my parents were determined to teach me Hindi and as a result only spoke Hindi to me brother and I in our household. Due to the fact that I grew up being able to speak Hindi fluently, I of course watched a lot of Indian movies with my family. Bollywood is a big part of Indian culture and I grew up knowing every single Indian actor, actress, singer, and director. Even though I never lived in India, I think watching movies helped me understand Indian values and beliefs. I would always pay attention to what the Indian families in the movie I was watching were eating for breakfast, what they were wearing, and the way they would talk. This is how I would familiarize myself with India when I was in Europe, until I would go on holidays to India and see my family. Over there, I would eat lots of Indian food and my family would take me to see iconic Indian monuments. I was also very fortunate to go to an International school in which countries from all around the world were celebrated and accepted. I remember that my school always had events called “India night” and would also celebrate Diwali. I also had many other Indian children in my year group and therefore I never felt as if I was the only brown person. In other words, even with living in France and Switzerland, I never lost touch with my parent’s roots or Indian culture. The truth is that when people ask me where I’m from, I say I am from India and Switzerland. I say I am from India because I look Indian and because my parents are from India, and then I say I am from Switzerland because I hold a Swiss passport. However, if you were to ask me where my home is, the seven year old in me would still say Paris. After all, it’s where I learnt to ride a bike, to swim, and to torture my older brother.

Shreya Sachdev