‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCK) Thrive Living On-Campus
Image above: TCK and Housie, Tjeard van Oort, far right bottom row

“Where are you from?”
This question sparks frustration for many international UQ students, known as ‘Third Culture Kids’ (TCKs). These are students who grew up moving all around the world, before finally landing at UQ for tertiary study. Personal identity can be tricky for TCKs, but International House an inclusive, multicultural, on-campus residential community helps TCK residents establish a sense of belonging and home through lifelong friendships.

TJEARD VAN OORT has lived in the USA, China, and now resides on-campus at the University of Queensland, at International House (IH). Tjeard is the very definition of a Third Culture Kid (or TCK), a term coined by US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem, to describe children who spent their formative years in a ‘foreign’ culture due to their parents’ working abroad. Globalisation has made TCKs more common.

Tell us about growing up Tjeard?
I’m 19 years old and was born in America but lived in China for most of my life. I went to the Western Academy of Beijing | International School, and am now studying a Bachelor of Engineering with a major in Mechatronics at The University of Queensland, in Australia.

TCKs are mostly children of expatriate workers and often develop an identity that’s grounded in people rather than places. TCKs are sometimes called citizens of everywhere and nowhere, why did you choose International House?
I chose to live on-campus at International House (IH) because it’s an inclusive college community where I’ve made lots of interesting friends from Australia and all around the world. This year, I was appointed as an IH Senior Resident (SR) and in this role, my goal is to help everyone feel at home, just like I was made to feel welcome as a Fresher (1st-year resident). I also love the convenience of living on-campus at UQ.

Being a Third Culture Kid I know what it is like to move around a lot and be the new guy, to feel nervous about settling in and making friends. Here at IH anyone and everyone is free to be themselves and immediately welcomed into a multicultural, diverse, and accepting community.

What do you like about being a Housie (IH resident)?
I enjoy playing table tennis and pool in the IH games room and sharing meals with other Housies in the dining room. My favorite IH events are sports activities, everyone joins in even if they’ve never kicked a footy or hit a tennis ball before, it’s just a great way to get to know Housies or other UQ students and have fun.

Studies show many TCKs make their first move before the age of nine, speak two or more languages, and have lived in an average of four countries. This makes them attractive to future employers, has IH given you any leadership opportunities?
Yes, I’m the 2019 SR and the IH Student Club Male Sports Convener. I want to encourage more Housies to participate in sports, so they can meet new teammates and enjoy UQ’s green grounds. Winning is nice, but camaraderie and sunshine are even better. I also really enjoy our cultural events and celebrating all the different international festivals, it reminds me of living overseas in places like in China. The more you give to college the more you get back.

Did you know…
Notable TCKs include former US President Barack Obama.
Viggo Mortensen, the actor famous for his role as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
‘Love Actually’ British actor, Colin Firth.

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