Life as a 4th cultured kid



**Sociologists will love this**

What is a 4th cultured kid? It’s someone like myself who was born in the jungle, raised in a Brazilian community with American traditions who now lives outside of Brazil in the United States. 4 cultures in  me.  There aren’t many of us, but the ones I’ve met have been nice and it’s great to be able to share this unique upbringing. The closest people I can relate to are the 3rd culture kids who have similar upbringing. 85% of my friends are 3rd culture kids. They come from all over the world and I was blessed to know and have known them.

Who are those 3rd culture kids?



What do we all have in common? What makes us tick? How are our lives different from yours? Or the same? We aren’t better than anyone else, it’s just that our lives are different.  Here are some examples.


Your accent changes depending who you are talking to.
That is true. Especially when I suddenly speak Portuguese my tone changes. Portuguese is a lyrical language.  I’ve picked up small accents from different countries.  


We sometimes replace English words with a foreign word in a middle of a sentence leaving people confused.
-To us, it makes sense because sometimes we think in two languages in our brains. We can’t find English words in time so we slip into a different language to replace that word we were looking for. Sorry!


We are great at calculating time zones from around the world.
This is true because of how often we call our relatives who live in a different country or friends from around the world. It does get tricky when the time zones change in the US and in Europe.


Our passports are well worn.
-I love my passports! I keep them all as sourvenirs of places I’ve gone to.


Some of us even have multiple passports!
So jealous….I had two Visas though. Some of my friends had multiple Visas and Passports. That’s a lot of documents to carry around. Ha.


Being constantly asked which country we love more.

-I still find this annoying and have learned to either dodge this question or expertly change the topic.


We are constantly asked where we are from.
-I still get asked this question and I’m sure I will until I’m old and ancient. Depending on my mood and who I’m talking to, I will either tell them Brazil or New Jersey. If I have plenty of time on my hands I will say Brazil because I know the next question will be “Then how did you end up here?” which will then lead to a half an hour conversation. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll just say NJ and they’ll stop at that unless they want to know what town.




We have spent many hours on airplanes and know which airports around the world are the best.
-I always loved comparing the tarmac and seeing if there was an open space for visitors to wave goodbye or hello to their arriving visitors. The waiting areas are all so different too. The air coming off the airplane is always different with all the temperatures from each place. I used to collect all those little “wings” from the American planes (they stopped giving them out) and we can easily tell you which planes serve the best foods.


We are known to be global daters or eventually marrying a foreigner.
My ex-boyfriends have been Swedish, American, Arabic and Russian.


We are culturally sensitive.
-Due to having many cultures in our classrooms or having sleepovers at our friends home, we quickly learn what is acceptable and how to show respect to our hosts.


Filling out papers for permanent address can make us sweat or  nervous.

-Why? Because we’ve moved so many times in our lives, it’s hard to fathom actually being in a place for a “permanent” time. This is one of the reasons why I’m taking longer than usual to buy a home. What if I decide I want to move again? This just scares me. Wherever I end up will have to be top notch and somewhere I can see myself living at for a very long time. I’ve moved 15 times in my life. I’ve learned to become extremely adaptable to my surroundings and I always end up falling love wherever I go. Watch out Bermuda, Haiti and St. Maarten! 😉 I just know I’m going to fall in love with your country this summer.


Converting currencies is a must you learn from an early age, especially when your foreign friends come to visit you.

-Better yet, if you can also convert the money that is constantly changing in your country. In Brazil, we used to have the “cruzeiro” which then changed to “reis”. So imagine changing the money bills and then having to mentally convert how much something costs in American dollars? Crazy. Another reason why I hated math. But at the same time, I do love the stock market and all that jazz. I’m strange, I know.


We dance and sing to music where we don’t understand the language other than the one we were raised in.

-I’ve always found myself watching and loving music from India, Arabic and small independent Japanese bands. I have no idea what they are saying, but it’s fun to think I can sing along. My ipod has multinational music on it.


The end of a school year means saying goodbye to friends who move away.

-Sometimes our friends or classmates were diplomat or military kids. Other were only there for a year or two before their business parents moved to another country. Saying goodbye is learned early on as a Kindergartener until our Senior year. It never gets easier. But then the cycle would then resume with a fresh batch of friends who would stay longer and bless our lives once again.


We may look like everyone else, but we still don’t fit in.

-I still struggle with this one. I used to get strange looks when I’d cut my pizza with my knife and fork. Down in Brazil, they don’t like eating with their bare hands, so we use utensils for everything. Even eating a hamburger, they wrap a napkin around half of it as not to get their hands messy. I don’t eat fast food hamburgers anymore, so I don’t need to do that now. A lot of the American sayings I don’t “get”, especially from sports. I feel left out, but that is life.



We see the calendar year differently.

-This was new for me when I arrived in the US. Down in Brazil we put the day of the month first, then the month followed by the year. This caused some confusion with some of my friends when I’d write them letters or they would tell me a certain date to do something. I was still using the Brazilian method instead of converting my dates, months and years in the order of the American way.


We’ve watched American shows in a different language before hearing it in English!

-I think I watched MacGyver and the A-Team dubbed in Portuguese before I heard them in English. It was a beautiful day when I finally heard Mac in his cute Minnesotan accent.

Don’t claim to be an expert in our country if you have never stepped foot there.


So that is a little about me.



 Photo credit: Google





4 thoughts on “Life as a 4th cultured kid

  1. It all sounds very adventurous to me. For those of us who have been in one country all our lives…we must be boring, indeed.
    I noticed you did not list an Irish boyfriend. You need to meet a nice Irish lad to make you smile. Consider visiting Ireland.

    1. It is adventurous! No, no!! People who have never been anywhere are NOT boring to us. In fact, you guys provide us stability and a sense of being a rock in the friendship/relationship. If we do end up dating or marrying someone who has never been anywhere, they just have to be open to traveling with us in the future. You know that movie “Aladdin”? “I can show you the world”. That’s how it is with us. We want to show and share the world with the ones we love. If we end up with another world traveler, then that’s cool too. I know for myself, it doesn’t really matter if they have never been out of the country or even State. As long as they are open to see the world with us in the future.

      As for the Irish boyfriend. I don’t think Irish guys even notice or like me. I can’t compete with the porcelain and red haired beauties in Ireland. It would take a guy who is attracted to exotic people like myself for me to even have a chance. Lol. I think I may have better luck with Scottish guys. My bestfriend who is Scottish ended up marrying a Brazilian girl. So….. But I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland AND Ireland. Maybe in the next 2 years I will make my way to the UK!

    1. Hooooooooollllllyyyyyy cow! That was amazing! I want to learn to speak like her–with the snap of a finger. Her Portuguese was European. I had no clue what she was saying, but it wasn’t Brazilian Portuguese–which is much more lovely to hear. Sigh. I’m trying to learn Hindi this year. Probably while I’m on my cruise and laying out on one of the days we are at sea for the day. Her Japanese was good, Arabic went well and Spanish too. I have to watch this one more time. That was fun! 😀

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