I'm purposely placing the video first, then the explanations... Why? Because I'm betting that many readers who have never lived overseas will hear what she says and not "get it," thinking some stuff she says sounds odd or even spoiled. She won't come across as she actually is, and I bet she'll be misunderstood... And that's the point. TCK's are often misunderstood!
So, here goes... And then PLEASE read the explanations. I'm curious to hear how many of you will have reactions that then are explained to you below -- perhaps changing your reactions.
This is only Part 1 of the interview; I'll include Part 2 in a separate post.
The Concept of "Home"
Uncertainty about what the word "home" means. She's not quite sure where her home is, a typical response by TCK's. The confusion comes from hearing us say, "We're going home to the USA in the summer," giving the idea that "home" is the USA -- but when we're there, we don't have an actual "home," a house that's ours... We go from relative to relative... Then, while in the USA, we get ready to go "home" back to Russia. In Russia we know we're here temporarily, so we don't have "roots" here -- and we rent an apartment that isn't ours in a lasting sense. This leads to a sense of instability -- or you can look at it positively, saying that it leads to great adaptability in TCK's.
Concept of Future/Future Time and Concept of Travel
Uncertainty about where she'll live when she's a grown-up. This is quite common in TCK's: unlike non TCK's who grow up in one country -- and perhaps in one town -- she has two countries, and the whole world, actually, in front of her as a possibility. By the age of eight she has already formed friendships with kids who are expats from around the world, making those other places "real" to her. Non TCK's tend to imagine their lives in a linear fashion, with natural progressions: grade school, high school, college, first job, marriage... And they usually can imagine the backdrop to such things. TCK's live in the moment, not sure what the background will be for those events in their lives. They know they don't really have any control over where they'll be until they're grown-ups, so those spaces stay nebulous in their minds.
She just assumes that traveling will always be a part of her life, since she has crossed the globe frequently since the age of three. TCK's tend to remain in motion for the rest of their lives -- if not in practice, in mind (through literary interests, friendships, for example).
She is aware that her non-TCK friends in the USA have never considered the question of where they'd live, since they've always lived in once place their whole lives -- or at least in one country. She doesn't see this as a negative -- but she does realize that it differentiates her from them.
Multilingualism is the norm to her; she has grown up thus far surrounded by people actively speaking a variety of languages from all over the world. Her friends here have been from Sweden, Argentina, Israel and Japan -- in addition to being from English-speaking countries from all over the world and Russia.
While learning Russian wasn't initially easy for her, she now has confidence that she could learn any language if necessary... It's simply what people do if the occasion arises. Interestingly, she thinks of learning Russian as being "as easy as eating a piece of cake" -- mixing up the English idiom and being unaware of it!
Not Feeling Completely Understood by Peers in Native and Adopted Countries
She knows that her friends back in America can't quite grasp her life here; without actually living it, they can't understand what it's truly like. As a result, she sometimes says she feels a bit more Russian when in America -- and more American when in Moscow. This is also common; TCK's identify with both cultures -- their native one and their adopted one. When in one country they tend to be more aware of the other one -- and how it differentiates them from their peers.
TCS's Identify Most with Other TCK's
TCK's tend to identify most with other TCK's -- even if the other child's native culture and adopted one are different! Studies have shown that the simple awareness of what it's like growing up with that sense of a blended culture creates a very strong bond. Her best friend for two years in Moscow was a Swedish girl living as an expat here. Even though that friend spoke almost no English and only a few words of Russian when they met, they quickly became friends because they both realized that they were in the same boat. They never were able to carry on elaborate conversations, but they understood each other's feelings perfectly.
Her best friend now is Agatha, another TCK, an American girl growing up in Moscow who attends a Russian school. Even though that girl is half Russian, she has lived in America and goes there frequently enough to identify herself as a citizen of both cultures. They have told each other things such as, "You are my friend in my heart because you understand me on the inside."
Like most TCK's living extensively in their adopted country, Katya can fit in almost unnoticed with her Russian peers -- so she does have many good Russian friends. Those friendships are different than her relationship with Agatha; she knows that her Russian friends don't know all of her, they don't "get" the American side of her.
She's aware that there is a huge part of her life that family and friends in America just can't understand -- and that what those people in America might think of as odd is completely normal here. She knows that there are different cultural practices in each country, and she adapts when in each place.
Differences in Lifestyle
It's common for lifestyle issues to differentiate TCK's from their peers in their native countries. American kids living overseas are often there because their parents are businessmen or diplomats; as a result, they usually live a lifestyle that is more privileged than that of their peers "back home." Their parents' salaries often include cost of living adjustments, housing in a safe area, travel allowances, some kind of domestic help to aid in adaptation to the new culture, private school tuition in an English-language school. In many countries it is normal to have a driver, maid or nanny. (We're not living a life with all those perks, but some of it applies to us! Even though all of that doesn't describe our life, Katya knows that such perks are normal for many of the other expat kids she knows here -- so she does consider them "normal.")
For example, many expats in Moscow are forbidden by their employers to drive because of their insurance package -- they are required to use local drivers. Life is also so much harder here than in the USA that I really do need someone to help me in the home; otherwise I wouldn't be able to give my kids as much attention as I would were we in the USA. Too much of my time would be taken up by the long, long hours necessary for grocery shopping, traffic jams, and constant house-cleaning due to pollution. Hired help is also much cheaper here than in the USA, so it doesn't mean that you're a really rich family if you have some.
Travel once a year back to their country of origin is the norm, and usually families travel much more than that to get a break from the stresses of living in their foreign country. Many expat families make it a point to travel extensively while overseas, aware that the chance to "hop a train" to a different country as tourists won't be available to them once their time overseas comes to an end.
Even missionary families we know in Moscow travel often to get a break from being in Russia, aware that the stresses of living here are so great that they need to get away a few times a year. Getting away from the pressure of living here is something expat families on a variety of budgets do, so the idea of "needing a vacation" is very real to Katya -- and not a "spoiled" want.
Travel and Vacations
It's also important to point out that visiting relatives when in America really does not qualify as a vacation. The travel is lengthy, tiring, and then they have to deal with jet lag. There isn't much "down time" when we're in the USA since we're always staying in someone else's home (for the most part) and we need to be careful to follow their rules. They can't just "let go" and relax. There's also the stress of getting everything done that needs to be completed before we return to Moscow -- all the medical visits and shopping for the next half year/year. When we get back from America, they're usually relieved to be back in their own apartment.
TCK's also have more stress because they live with parents who are going through the stress living in a different culture; most expat families realize this and that's why they make an effort to have more vacations for the whole family's health.