What’s it like being a TCK in China? Interview with Eloria Pelton

Howdy, folksies! I’m SO EXCITED for today’s post!

You may have seen Eloria around the blogosphere, but whether you have or haven’t, did you know that she’s a TCK? Moreover a TCK right here in China? Now, if you’ve lived under a rock your entire life and don’t actually know what a TCK is or what those three letters stand for (like me until last year), according to Wikipedia,

Third culture kids (TCK) are kids that are raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of their country of nationality for a significant part of their early development years. They are often exposed to a greater variety of cultural influences.

If you didn’t really get that *cough* slightly redundant *cough* Wikipedia definition, basically a TCK is a child (or teenager, as is the current situation) who lives in a different country from what’s on their passport. Eloria, who by the way is an amazing writer/human/math-study-partner, is interviewing me on Halfway Home. It still remains a mystery whether or not I am actually a TCK by true definition, but if you want to hear my side of the story, check it out on her blog!

Now, before we get started, Eloria, please introduce yourself!

Hey! Thank you so much Merie for doing this collaboration with me! So…. Hi everyone! I’m Eloria Pelton, a TCK who has lived in China almost whole life. I love everything about my life here and would not change anything for the world. And now, without future adieu, I’m gonna answer some questions! Here we go! This is gonna be fun! 

What’s the most-asked question you get about being a TCK?

I’m not sure if there is just one specific question I always get asked buttttt there are a few things I hear a lot like “Can you speak Chinese?” or “is it fun to live in china?” But the one that I hate the most and hear often is “Aren’t you happy to be home honey?” and to me this question is just the worst because I’m kinda like “Ummm ok first of all I’ve lived in china for my whole life, and second, America is nothing close to my home so… what do you exactly mean by that question?” 

*points at you people* So NEVER. ASK. A TCK. That question. Please. Thank you.

Tell us what your favorite thing about being a TCK is!

Ah, ok so this is a hard question because I just love so many things! But one of my favorite things about being a TCK is all the adventures I get to go on and how lucky I am to be able to experience a whole new culture and live in such an awesome place, which most people don’t have the privilege of doing. 

Also, that puts us in the same time-zone so. You know. Count your blessings. xD

How (and here’s my favorite question, besides the fairytale one which is kinda irrelevant) has living in two totally different countries affected your idea of patriotism/Stuff Like That?

Ok so actually this is a great question. So for me being loyal is very hard, because I love China but I am technically from America. So honestly I think that it’s hard for me to be loyal to either of the two countries but truly I think that mostly I would defer to more on the side of china and be more loyal, just because I have lived here for so long and it is truly my home. But also at the same time, I kinda have an outside look at both of the countries and have my complete own options on China and America, because I know that lots of people’s opinions are swayed by news and what it says, but because I have first hand experience in both countries I, over time have formed my own personnel opinions about each country. 

YES, I love your answer, and it’s very true! TCKS have both an outside and an inside look on each of the cultures they experience. It’s… pretty interesting.

Do you speak Chinese fluently? Are you still learning it?

I would say that I know Chinese pretty well, I mean I have lived in china for 15 years. But I’m not quite fluent. And sadly, now that I’m older, I hardly ever use it anymore because Chinese teenagers have so much homework and don’t have time to hang out so my Chinese is a bit rusty now and I’m not quite improving like I used to. And yeah I do have a teacher who is teaching me to read and write it. 

Well, high-five, because me too. Heheh.

Favorite thing about the Chinese culture?

I love how friendly people are. One thing about Americans is that they are often standoffish and like “Oh if a stranger talks to me then they must be a serial killer, or some kidnapper weirdo.” But in china, no matter where you are, you can just go up to people and comment on how cute their baby is or ask them directions to some place, and they won’t runaway from you, afraid you’ll kill them.  

This one made me grin 😀 For introverts like me, it can be startling (especially when you’re not sure they’re talking to you, you know?). I actually think a lot of Americans are this friendly too? Not all, of course, but I’ve also had my share of being yelled at by unfriendly Chinese people, so… xD

Oh wait– THIS is my favorite question to ask. Your opinion on American Chinese food? 😉 😉

Ugh! just put me out of my misery now! American Chinese food is so gross! first of all it has hardly any flavor compared to actual Chinese food. Also it’s not ever spicy. Americans are weak!

I WAS LAUGHING SO HARD when I read this one. Once another TCK friend of mine actually looked up an article about whether or not American Chinese food is actually Chinese food, and ever since I’ve been hooked on knowing China TCKs’ opinion on it. *By the way, American Chinese food refers to foods invented in America and labeled “Chinese,” and also Panda Express. Authentic Chinese food restaurants are awesome.*

Are there any stigmas about TCKs that really get on your nerves and why?

I absolutely hate it whenever people think that all TCK’s miss their passport country desperately, and that their life in their host country is just horrid. This rubs me the wrong way because I love my life in china, and I think it’s amazing, so whenever people have the expectation that I should be soooooo happy to be “home” it really makes me mad because why would I miss America if it was never my home in the first place?

*applause is all the commentary necessary*

Favorite Chinese food! (another favorite question lol)

This is so hard! because there are so many good Chinese foods out there! I think I’ll say that cauliflower dish is close to one of my favorites, I have no idea what it’s called but here is a picture:

pot of heaven

Also I love, love, love tiger salad! that one is so good!

*is trying to translate tiger salad into Chinese so I know what you’re talking about* Ahem, that cauliflower dish is really delicious (at least I know what that is)!

Last question– do you like to travel?

Interesting question… and I have no idea how to answer it XD! 

(Thanks, Eloria, I’m really good at asking interesting questions nobody can answer. xD)

So I guess I kind of do but also at the same time I also don’t like it at all. I think that I like the thrill of seeing new places and flying in air plains but I don’t really like leaving my pets behind. You guys have to understand that my dog is kinda(but also kinda not) a special needs dog, he has extreme anxiety problems and is so attached to me. Whenever we leave the country we always leave him with super kind and really nice people but he ends up missing me so much and last year when we went to America for the whole summer, he missed me so much that he went into an extreme fit of anxiety and pulled out all his tail hair… yes he is a very strange dog… thankfully it’s all grown back now!

Your dog is adorable 😛 And that’s understandable. Kipling has zero trouble when we travel, because she’s a cAt and has no sense of loyalty whatsoever (somewhat), but. That’s understandable. xD


Hope you guys enjoyed getting to know my friend Eloria! Go follow her at Halfway Home and check out her half of the collaboration, linked above!

Always be a happy camper y’all.

Until next time,

~ Merie

11 thoughts on “What’s it like being a TCK in China? Interview with Eloria Pelton

  1. Your dog sounds like a cutie! Is he the one in your profile picture? We have a disabled dog with a bad leg and she is so sweet.

    Stop making me drool on the keyboard with all the food you’re talking about, Merie! XD Seriously, that cauliflower dish looks so good.

    That’s interesting what you say about Chinese people being more approachable at times than Americans. I think it might depend on where you are in America? My mom said that in a state she used to live people would always start talking to each other in a store or a restaurant even if they didn’t know each other, but where we live now, that…barely happens. Like Eloria, I’m very much an introvert, but that does sound really nice in China. I do like it when I know people won’t glare at me for saying something to them. XD

    It was SO interesting to hear all your thoughts. I enjoyed reading this so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such a cool post! I’m not a TCK since my ancestors are all from China and my parents immigrated from there to America but it was really interesting seeing this different persepctive

    Liked by 2 people

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