Turkey Kalkan Roads

EXPAT KID: Help your expat kid in a Global Pandemic!

Your Road Map to Working through Culture Stress with Your New TCK (aka- Third Culture Kid)

September is well underway, which means that a new school year is upon us. This year in particular, school may look very different from years prior. You may find that your kids tire quickly, are more easily frustrated, and gravitate towards their comfort items more.

*[Ahem… You may notice that you do as well!]

One of the reasons for this is with so much changing in the day to day ways we interact with our world (geez, thanks COVID-19) that our brains no longer work on “auto-pilot” and now have to spend more energy to make decisions. 

The same is true for those entering a new culture, which is why this blog post is helpful for not only ex-pats raising TCKs (Third Culture Kids), but also all parents during the coronavirus pandemic.

This concept is explored more in this article shared about how the stress of living through the COVID-19 pandemic is comparable to culture shock.  Also, I recently read Lauren Wells’ book “Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids” and I highly recommend it for any parent of a TCK.

In this post, I want to share a guide for working through culture stress with TCKs that I learned from this book and from my research and observations of TCKs in general.

Read on for your 3 tips to work through culture stress with your TCK.

Turkey Kalkan Roads

What’s the destination for TCK? What is the goal of working through culture stress?

The first step to reaching any destination is knowing where we are going. The goal of working through culture stress with our children is that in the end, our children are integrated aTCKs who love diversity, are highly adaptable, resilient, and emotionally healthy

Let me break down what I mean by that a bit.

  • Integrated: our kids are a part of the community in which we live, they have a place and feel a sense of belonging and capability in their environment.
  • Love of diversity: one day our children will be adults who either fear or are excited by diversity. In working through culture stress with our TCKs, we are teaching them to become people who see the beauty and effectiveness of diversity, and who cultivate diversity in the spaces they occupy. 
  • Highly adaptable: by teaching our kids how to adapt to their new culture, we are giving them tools to adapt to any culture and any circumstance that life may throw their way.
  • Resilient: children are not naturally resilient in the way we often assume. They have to be taught resilience, and that’s where parents, caregivers, teachers, and mentors come in! We can teach our kids how to handle difficult situations.
  • Emotionally healthy: Children who can name and regulate their emotions will become adults who are not ruled by their emotions.

Now, how do we get there? 

A destination is a good place to start, but without a plan, it’s very hard to arrive where we want to go. So what is the “roadmap” to reach the goal stated above?

Below I walk you through 3 tools that will enable you to reach that goal.

1. Prevention: 

“An ounce is better than a pound of cure,” the saying goes. And it’s true!

Having a car that has been maintained properly makes getting to your destination SO much easier, and prevents innumerable disasters that could come up along the way. 

But what does prevention look like for culture stress?

The most important thing is to have systems in place to talk about feelings without invalidating those feelings, but teaching kids to work through emotions in a healthy way.

What does that look like?

  • Make space for kids to voice their needs and listen to what they’re really saying.
  • Have a time during the day when you check in with each of your kids; what are they experiencing, and how do they feel about it?
  • Practice asking good questions of your kids and really listening to their answers.
  • Maybe every night at dinner, everyone in the family shares the high and low points of their day.

Another prevention tool is helping your kids set expectations. Verbally prepare your children when you are going into a new situation, and give them ways to appropriately communicate their feelings to you.

  • Maybe your self-conscious child gets stared at for their different skin or eye color when you walk to school with her, or even has her skin or hair touched by strangers.
  • Maybe your sensitive child gets overwhelmed by the all the sights, sounds, smells and textures of the market.

As much as possible, give them a way to know what to expect and how to communicate what they are feeling in those moments with you. Of course, since you are also still learning what to expect in your host country, it is important to do the work of learning together.

TasteslikeTurkey.NiaMcRay.Izmir.Turkey.TCK.culturestressroadmap.2.JPG

2. Partnership:  

When I’m taking a road trip, I always prefer having someone with me, experiencing things alongside me, helping me navigate my way to the next pit stop, and just for the company on what could otherwise be a lonely ride. 

The same is true of entering a new culture.

We can do the work of being a student of our host culture together, alongside our children, rather than excluding them.  Talk about your observations of the culture with your kids, being careful not to pass ethnocentric judgment. “What is something you’ve noticed today that happened differently than you expected?”

We can learn together how to navigate this new way of life, and present it as an exciting opportunity for our children.  You may be surprised…kids are incredibly observant! Two (or three or five) heads are better than one. Your kids can be great assents to your own culture-learning process, and you to theirs, if you partner together in this opportunity. 

Also, help build a community for your kids with local friends who can help you and your kids learn more about the culture you’re adjusting to. Making friends with families with kids similar ages as your own can be helpful in allowing the whole family to enjoy time together in your host language and culture, making your kids feel more at home in their new culture.

Basically, the more you can do together, the better!

TasteslikeTurkey.NiaMcRay.Izmir.Turkey.TCK.culturestressroadmap.4.JPG

3. Parroting: 

Teaching by modeling to your kids is like giving them a clear map with a highlighted route, or clear road signs that show our kids what to expect ahead. 

When it comes to parenting, you already know: much more is caught than taught.

With regard to cultural learning, it is especially important to remember this. Your response to culture stress informs the way your children will respond to culture stress in a greater way than the way you tell them to respond to culture stress.

In other words, kids are much more likely to “parrot” your responses to the culture, whether they are positive or negative. When you are frustrated with the stress of the overwhelming feeling of just wanting one thing in your life to feel normal again, remember to be careful with how you respond. 

Be honest with your kids about your feelings: “Mom is feeling frustrated right now because I’m still learning to navigate the systems in this culture. But I’m going to take a few deep breaths and try again tomorrow.” Narrate your own feelings as well as your child’s, and remind them (and yourself) that emotions in themselves are not bad, but are indicators to us, like road signs.

Just because we are frustrated with the way our host culture does something, doesn’t mean that your feelings or the culture are wrong. The more we can identify our emotions without attributing blame to our host cultures, the more healthily we can interact (and model interactions for our kids) with our host culture.

This also works with narrating your kids’ emotions. “It seems to me that you are disappointed right now. Would you like to talk about what you were expecting and what happened instead?” Keeping the door open for communication is key to parenting, and especially when navigating a new culture. 

Let’s sum it up!

The more we learn to read the road signs, the more aware we become of our subconscious beliefs and motivations. Using these three tools of Prevention, Partnership, and Parroting will ultimately, enable your TCK (AND you too) to become the most emotionally healthy TCK they can be!

Your Turn!

  • Do you have TCKs?
  • What do you find is most helpful when working through culture stress with them?
  • What books have you read on the topic?
  • What from this blogpost have you found most helpful?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nia McRay from @Tastes_Like_Turkey

I am a lover of words and stories, student of culture, amateur photographer, adult cross-cultural kid, English tutor to TCKs (Third Culture Kids), and aspiring foodie. We will probably be instant friends if you give me good coffee, invite me to cook with you, or start a conversation with me about personalities, culture, and how the two intersect. I’m a life-long nerd, believer, and creative-in-the-works. I am all about the journey, so traveling and cross-cultural living is always something that has captured my heart and inspired my imagination. 

In 2016, after teaching in an inner-city school and needing a change of pace, I spent a year abroad in Izmir, Turkey with a friend. I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people. The conveniences of a big city with a friendly, slow-pace-of-life atmosphere is all found between the mountains and the sea. What’s not to love? So, after my year of adventure, I knew I wanted to come back to Izmir to live. 

Positioned on the perch of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, Turkey is both a mix of cultures, and a unique culture all its own. The more I learn, the more I want to learn, and this desire to learn is what drives me to write. As a pretty quiet person, I write to learn, to discover, and to process. As someone who grew up in a cross-cultural context, Turkey’s diversity and mix of cultures is something I personally relate to. Plus, if you’ve ever tasted Turkish food, you know that it is definitely something to write home about. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Funks’ blog and to grow and learn in the process.

Episode050-FunkTravels-Podcast-Website

Episode 50: When you move on to new things

Episode050 is our LAST (regular) episode! We have LOVED being a part of your lives and appreciate all of our listeners. THANK YOU for supporting us and following our journey! Don’t worry though, our website will still be around sharing travel and expat articles.

This episode wraps up a few life updates about language and our experience with buying a bed here. It also covers our 4th year anniversary weekend getaway to the Greek island of Chios just off the coast of Turkey.

Questions for the listeners:

  • Have you ever bought a brand new bed?
  • What is your anniversary tradition?
  • Have you been to Chios? If so, what did you love there?

Listen to Episode050 and let us know what you think! Links are below!

Mentioned links:

3rd Anniversary Travels to Cyprus – Episode030

Recent 4th Anniversary Travels: Chios, Greece

Bus company we should have reserved tickets on if the website worked…

Our AirbnbOur sign up code for a discount off your first stay!

Hatzelenis Tours – Car rentals

Larimar Boutique Hotel in Cesme

Mastic Museum

Volcanic Rock “Black Lava Rock” Beach

Olympic Village

Lidl Market

Upcoming Travels:

Lesvos

Rhodes

 

If you are just now joining in:

We encourage you to go back into the archives and listen back to our first episode.  And we encourage you to go back and listen to Episode009 which explains why we made the international move!

Since we won’t be releasing regular episodes, please join our newsletter to get future updates and news and follow along with daily updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

Enjoy this? Share it!

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WRITING: Snowy Weekend in Cappadocia in Lale Magazine

Lale Magazine featured my article titled Snowy Weekend in Cappadocia in their January/February 2018. The article covers a romantic weekend getaway to the snowy land of Cappadocia. The curved canyons of speckled volcanic rock jutting 2 to 3 stories into the chilled winter air were dusted with the recent fluffy snowfall!

The expat magazine, Lale Magazine, is produced by the IWI, International Women of Istanbul. The bi-monthly magazine is shipped to over 600 private home, as well as all advertisers and sponsors. The readers are comprised mostly of Turkish nationals married to foreigners, but also foreigners living in Istanbul. It is full of helpful information about local schools, exhibits for art and workshops, and experiences with IWI groups. There aren’t a lot of English print magazines in Turkey, so this is a fun magazine to have available!

Here is the start of the article:

While most tourists prefer to visit Cappadocia, in central Turkey, in the warmer summer temperatures, our winter travels there proved much more rewarding. Snow covers the usual brown facade and dresses the rocks in white, giving the area a beautiful, wintery glow.

The area prides itself on its carpet-weaving, wines, and the distinctive red pottery of Avanos. The snow and colder weather didn’t stop store owners or their warm rooms from inviting customers into their galleries.

Tour agencies in the region offer four tour routes labeled Green, Red, Blue, and Purple. To best explore Cappadocia you can choose a self-guided, well-traveled tour using a map in a rental car, or via a tour company.  Private day guides are always available and cost less during the offseason. Your guided tour may or may not include the entrance tickets and lunch, so be sure to clarify this before agreeing on a price. Take the Green and Red Tours for the more popular sites or, the less-traveled, Blue and Purple Tours if you have been before.

Continue reading here… or scroll down (flip to page 42).

Catie FunkTravels Istanbul Lale Magazine Cappadocia Turkey

Catie FunkTravels Istanbul Lale Magazine Cappadocia Turkey

Catie FunkTravels Istanbul Lale Magazine Cappadocia Turkey

 

You can also view the article via the link below. Flip to page 42.

 

Thank you, Lale Magazine for the feature. I am honored to be working with you as a writer.

 

See my past work published in the Lale Magazine:

For more pictures and my other accounts of our weekend in snow-covered Cappadocia, read more via the links below:

Episode027: When there is plenty of room at the Inn

Now to you:

Did you enjoy the article?

Would you go in the winter?

 

 

GOING HOME SERIES: 7 self-care tips and why it is important for expats returning home

With all your de-stressing, prepping for your travels, and organizing your responses and expectations for your expat return ‘home’, you should feel completely ready to go home now! Just one last article left and may be the most important one. Which brings me to my last post of the GOING HOME SERIES, 7 ways to schedule in self-care and why it is essential for an expat returning home.

Just like self-care is vital for everyday life, it is also important, if not MORE important for your travels home. Scheduling even one of the items below with give you a little breather from visits and help you care for YOU!

Here are 7 tips for self-care during your expat visit home:

 

    1. Read about reverse culture shock.

      Read about how to deal with your transition and reverse culture shock. Consider reading other blog posts of people who have gone through it as well and learn about how they coped. Find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Let yourself feel, recognize the feeling, and then, perhaps laugh a bit at yourself. Consider keeping a list of gratitudes during your visit or writing in a journal to help process your thoughts and feelings.

 

    1. Make time for a couple of real ‘vacation’ days with just your family or take a personal retreat.

      I talk about this here as well, but I will also shout out to this as a great way to care for yourself. Jason usually works while we travel, but we try to make sure we are clear on our actual ‘no work’ vacation days. We also try to travel and explore someplace new in the states we have never been. When you take these days, make sure to work in good ‘debriefing questions.’ I will write more about those in a future, but for now, here are 10 questions your friends may ask you when you return home for a visit.

 

    1. Do something you CAN’T do in your expat country.

      This could be going to a water park or camping. In our case, we eat lots of good pork products (ribs and lots of bacon), fresh blueberries on the cheap, and drive a car everywhere (we don’t own a car in Turkey!).

 

    1. Pamper yourself a little.

      The first time I lived in Turkey, I was so afraid to get my hair cut by the hairdresser. In fact, I only went to the salon ONCE in the whole two years I lived there. Maybe that was vain of me, but I was so scared I would come out with crazy hair. This time around I have found a hairdresser that I love and trust, but that is nothing as good as a hairdresser you trust and love back home. Or better yet, get a pedicure/manicure with a friend. Guys, get that massage you have been wanting!

 

    1. Eat some good food.

      Put your diet on hold and eat all the food! There is nothing like getting the food you love and have missed from the true source. For me, it can be a favorite local restaurant or our family recipes.

 

    1. Don’t forget to exercise.


      This may seem like a silly one, and you may debate me and say… “I’m on vacation!” With all the eating and visits you will be making, trust me, just a good 30 minute walk a day will help give your body some movement and keep your systems semi-regular! (You can thank me later.)

 

  1. Consider processing your past year with a counselor.

    YES! While you may not want to admit it, this is an excellent form of self-care. The great thing here is that they are there to listen, not to judge, and to give you the space you may need to express these deep-seated feelings that friends and family may not be equipped to handle.

Here is your FREE worksheet to make sure you cover your expat visit home well!

 

Questions for you:

  • Are you an expat living in a foreign country? If so, where?
  • What self-care tip did you like the most?
  • What self-care tips do you have? What would you add to this list?

 

Like this post? Pin it for later.

FunkTravels-Going-Home-Series_-7-SELF-CARE-TIPS-WHY-IT-IS-IMPORTANT-FOR-EXPATS-RETURNING-HOME


P.S. – This is the first post of a 6 part series called EXPAT GOING HOME SERIES. Stay tuned for the following articles:

Going Home Series: 10 thoughtful questions to ask your returning expats

Going Home Series: 8 ways you can bless your returning expats

Going Home Series: 6 ways to make your expat visit ‘home’ more enjoyable (Part 1)

Going Home Series: 6 practical ways to destress your next expat visit ‘home’ (Part 2)

Going Home Series: 5 expectations to explore before expats return home

Going Home Series: 7 self-care tips and why it is important for expats returning home

 

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir Pies

HOLIDAYS: How do expats celebrate Thanksgiving abroad? Glad you asked!

Thanksgiving celebrations in another country are NOT for the FAINT OF HEART. After celebrating 5 Thanksgiving in a foreign country, I have learned to be resourceful!

Last Thanksgiving we totally escaped up to Istanbul and celebrated with American friends. Don’t worry, I was not excluded from my share of the cooking, or eating, for that matter. In fact, I may have done MORE cooking because we were staying with the host of the Thanksgiving dinner.

This year, however, we decided to brave the holiday ourselves. Not alone though. We invited 30 of our friends and neighbors into our little apartment to celebrate the day with us!  Instead of the traditional Thursday celebrations, we waited until Friday night hoping it would be easier for guests to come.

This is what our actual Thanksgiving day dinner looked like… eating out and watching a movie at the nearby mall.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

And unlike almost all events in my life, I actually started early with the planning, menus, recipes, and activities for kids. I was very impressed with myself, and if you know me well, you would be too.

Turkey and all the stuffings: 

While the list looks ambitious, (and it was) we did NOT cook all that was on this list. ‘A’ was to assign out, the boxes were some I were to do… but of course, nothing happened like that. Almost everyone did bring something, but the Americans were the only ones I assigned a traditional Thanksgiving item too.

Jason was responsible for the turkey and gravy. I made a veggie tray and cheese tray for appetizers. My main course dishes were sweet potato casserole, corn casserole, and roasted veggies (which just collected juice from the turkey while it cooked).

We spent our weekly ‘Turkish’ cooking class prepping for the Thanksgiving party instead. I could not have made it through that week without my helpers that day! They cut up veggies, boiled sweet potatoes, made pie filling, and a list of other things I can’t remember right now. I had great ambitions to make green bean casserole, but unless you have those handy french onions or just a lot of time to fry your own… it just didn’t make the cut!

Our hardest prep work went into making the pie crusts. Yes, we made them from SCRATCH because Y’ALL, we can not get ready made pie crust here. It is just NOT A THING and it has yet to reach here. If you have ever made homemade pie crust, every stinking recipe calls for shortening, and well, yet again, it is not here in Turkey. Yet, somehow our brave American friends ordered a massive box of it from the local METRO (think SAM’S Club or COSCO) and they shared some with us!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Going to the store looks a little different here… I usually only buy what I can carry. If I know I am going to the weekly market or will buy a lot, then I bring my handy Pazar arabası or market car (no, I did not forget the ‘t’. The actual translation is ‘car.’)

Later that evening, I had a sweet friend take me to METRO to pick up our special ordered turkey. The people of METRO are my heros! I had given up on a whole turkey after asking several big stores, but METRO came through with a special order for us last minute. In Turkey, the stores do not start getting them in until the end of December to be used for New Year celebrations.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Our kilos of shortening: I stored the stuff on the left for later, and the right we used for the pie crust.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

P.S. – It also makes great turkey pot pie crust with leftover turkey!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Pre-cooked! I never got an after picture! While we make our own pureed pumpkin, an Australian friend of ours picked up 2 canned of Libby’s canned pumpkin on a recent trip to Ireland for her American friends living in Turkey! Crazy, huh?

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Jason did an AMAZING job with the turkey! I was so impressed. Everyone raved about the gravy he made from the turkey broth.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Having a 68 cm wide fridge means we had to be very creative with our storage!

 

Decor

Because of all the prep work, the day of our Thanksgiving party was actually calm and somewhat relaxed. I mixed up a few casseroles and my neighbors cooked them for me since our oven had the turkey cooking.  Jason and I worked together to rearrange our furniture and prepare a kid area in one of the back rooms.

I love decorating for the seasons, and thanks to the internet and a printer, I already had prints hung up for the season.  And thanks to $10 and a Dollar Tree in America, I decided to get plates, napkins, tablecloths, and a few other fallish items. The Dollar Store is one of the things I miss most here!

To seat 30 people, we had to be a little creative with our seating arrangement. And while it wasn’t ideal, everybody was great sports about it!

 

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Thanks LB for letting me borrow the banner!

Guests

Our guests were amazing. With over 7 different countries and a mix of English and Turkish, I was a little anxious to see how it would turn out. Our friends were warm and open to one another and I was very thankful to see conversation flowing freely between groups of people.

Due to the amount of food (people are so generous), we had 2 rounds of eating just like any good Thanksgiving. After Jason made a short speech and prayed over the food, I explained how it works (buffet style complete with Thanksgiving decor paper plates). Everyone enjoyed the first round of ‘savory’ foods and then we pulled out the sweets!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Finished turkey. We also had some extra turkey breast cooked for extra meat.

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

 

 

Overall, our first time hosting Thanksgiving was a huge success. Yes, it was work, but we LOVED sharing this experience with our friends. Thanks to all our friends who came and made this a special time we will ALWAYS remember!

For a verbal account of our Thanksgiving party, listen into Episode042!

Episode042: When you host your first adult Thanksgiving

 

Your turn!

How was your Thanksgiving?

How do you celebrate?

If you are an expat, what do you like to make? What is easy or difficult to find in your country?

 

Here are a couple a pics from the day after!

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

I spent some time on my winter cross-stitch with tv and coffee. Yes, that would be leftover pie on the table.

Not pictured: me in my jammies

Expat Thanksgiving Turkey Izmir

Leftover dishes that need to be returned! Poor Woody has a tendency to get left behind.