I Bring Something Different: Interview with Adult TCK Liz Lovelace (part 3)

I got to interview a close family friend, who is also an adult third culture kid (or ATCK). She shared about loneliness as a third culture kid in college, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. This is the third part of a multi-part interview. You can read part one here, and part two here.


Breanne: So, in college, what was your experience as a TCK in college?

Liz: College was hard. Especially the first year. Like I said with high school, the beginning is always an adjustment. By the time I got to college, I had already had those experiences of being in the States and going back to Argentina. Going in, I knew I could adapt and learn. I had that in my mind.

Breanne: That’s such a TCK thing, though… adaptation. When you said, “I would just wait on the sidelines, and wait and watch and learn.” I know that a widespread TCK reaction to a new environment is kind of not doing anything for months. Watching and learning and studying the culture and setting, and then starting to interact with it. So that makes sense.

Liz: I mentioned I was fourth out of five children. I ended up going to the same college as my older siblings. That helped me going in. I had seen the college before; when we dropped off my siblings, I was there. That was an advantage. My next older brother was in college when I arrived, so I had somebody. I knew I had support – I wasn’t completely alone. It was the middle of the year, January, when I started college. I ended up rooming with my now brother-in-law’s sister. She knew I was coming, and she requested to room with me, so that worked out. I made some terrific friends in college. One of the friends I met that first semester ended up being one of my very best friends. Going into college was a little different for me than for my siblings.

The academic aspect, though, I was going from homeschool to college. I actually hadn’t finished high school. I had to take a GED exam to have a high school diploma. It was daunting. There was the question of “Will I do okay… will I be able to do the work?” High school is supposed to prepare you for college and for writing a bunch of papers. I had to write an essay about whatever, five to ten pages, for every class. I don’t remember doing that when I was homeschooled in high school. That was a big thing for me to learn to do. Thankfully I did well in college. And I made good friends. A lot of the socializing that people do in high school, I did in college. Actually, no, When I was in ninth grade in the States, I played team sports, but I didn’t again till college.

Some of the aspects of playing on a team sport are where I got most of my college experience, traveling to play other schools, things that you learn in those environments. I didn’t have that for most of the high school. In Argentina, I didn’t play any sports. Not because it wasn’t allowed, at that time, soccer wasn’t… I don’t know if I was interested. I was introverted, so I think I was too shy to find a sport I wanted to do. It wasn’t something my parents encouraged me to do either. For my brother, they saw it as something he just really loved. He played soccer. I didn’t have a sport that I loved playing or that I had to play. I think I would have enjoyed it if I had done some kind of activity. It was common as a teen to be part of a sports thing, at school or at a club. But girls’ soccer wasn’t a thing back then.

Breanne: I mean, we’re talking about Argentina. Haha.

Liz: Right. Back in the 90s. So girls soccer wasn’t a thing. I don’t remember it as something I wanted to do. College was my first experience of playing on a team for several years in a row. Many people who play sports in college played sports in high school, so they already have played sports on a team. That was new to me.

I do remember having this my first semester: This moment where I felt very alone. I think it was a free period; I was in my dorm room by myself. I guess I was journaling or reading the Bible or something like that. I just remember crying… sobbing. I felt very alone, out of place, stressed. It’s not just getting into a different culture. It’s a different culture, but all of a sudden, you have college classes and responsibility. It was this level of pressure I wasn’t used to. I remember praying and crying, and I felt so alone. I remember, specifically, God being with me in that moment. It was probably the first time in my life where I was alone, and I had to call out to God. Until then, you’re with family, when you live at home, it’s different – you aren’t alone. College was the first time I had to rely on God for companionship. Even though there were other TCKs there at that time (my brother was there, there were Spanish-speaking TCKs there, who I could talk to. Those were still new friendships too. There were actually two TCKs there, one from Uruguay and another from Argentina. She was a pastor’s kid who lived in Buenos Aires who we knew, but we weren’t really friends. She was at my college for a year and then dropped out. I had some friendships, but they were new, and being an introvert, it wasn’t easy for me to break out of my shell and be myself and make friends. So that was an adjustment. As I got through a couple years of college, I could see a benefit in being a TCK in that… I remember going through this time during college where I was like, “Who am I, how do I fit in? I miss Argentina, but what’s home”… that whole struggle. I think, at some point, I accepted me for myself. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Breanne: No, yeah, totally.

Liz: I think any differences I had with other people my age didn’t matter anymore.

Breanne: Whereas before, they really mattered. That was like the switch.

Liz: Right. As a teenager, being different wasn’t something I relished or something I wanted. As I got older, as I matured, as I gained experience… I don’t remember an “aha” moment, but as I grew, fitting in and relating to other people wasn’t crucial anymore. I was able to accept that I am the way I am and, knowing that I bring something different to the people around me. I have different life experiences, and that is a good thing. That doesn’t diminish other people’s life experiences of mine. It’s just different.

Breanne: That’s so good.


This interview has been amazing to unpack and chew on! Don’t miss the last part that I’ll post next week. (And honestly, I’m saving the best for last.)

What has stood out to you in this interview? I’ll be replying to your comments!

Global Nomad, Think You Are Accepting? Think Again.

Do you ride camels there?

I pause. And groan inwardly. These people – they have no idea.

No. We don’t ride camels. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in my country.

No kidding. I live in a huge city. The poor camels would continuously be run over by cars and hit by motorcycles.

No Different

I’ve heard it said that Third Culture Kids are some of the most accepting people in the world. 

With all the exposure we’ve had to different cultures, ways of thinking, and kinds of suffering, you’d think that’d be true. 

But are we, really?

Many Third Culture Kids have extreme feelings about their passport culture. They could go on and on about how wrong people are, how close-minded they are. Now, some of that is valid. There are definite faults or problematic aspects that TCKs can realize about cultures, and especially cultures of passport countries, that most people can’t see. But the fact that TCKs can see them doesn’t make TCKs inviting or open-minded. Most often, Third Culture Kids really struggle with being kind to their passport culture, with finding the good in it. 

And when we belong to a God who has called us to love our enemies, that’s not ok. 

Whether enemy or not, the people from our passport culture are just that – people. Created to mirror God’s glory. 

‘And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

Matthew 5:43-48

You must be perfect. 

That’s hard. It doesn’t mean we will be perfect – it means we should strive to be perfect. 

Because as believers, if we hate or pridefully shame ignorant people with a more “closed” worldview, we are no different from unbelievers. 

Love When It’s Hard

TCK, your insight and your experiences are valid. Your passport country does need your perspective. But as followers of the one who counted his equality with God as nothing and who became a servant, we should be nothing less than that: servants. 

We should use the experiences God has given us to kindly and humbly help others think differently. 

We should be humble enough to recognize that we can learn from those who haven’t traveled or interacted with as many cultures as we have. 

Everyone has a story. Everyone is going through trials. 

Jesus loved the least of these. 

Will we think we are better? Or will we follow our humble Savior?


TCK, what things do you complain about when interacting with people? What pride might you be holding onto in your life? Bring it to the Lord.