When I was growing up, I moved around a lot. I didn’t have one place to call home, and that definitely impacted my friendships. I didn’t have one set group of childhood friends throughout the years; rather, I had many different cities and countries that were “home” to me during different phases of my life–and different friends that went with each place. Although this was difficult at times, my “Third Culture Kid” background kept my life interesting. And I was proud of it.
A Third Culture Background
As I was applying for college, my upbringing and international friendships were both things I took into consideration. Although on the one hand I had a desire to move back to the United States and embrace the typical American “college experience,” on the other hand I felt like something would be missing if I did. I didn’t want to go someplace where the students were all from the same country, or even the same city. To me, the idea of moving to my passport country made me feel more foreign than moving to another foreign country.
During the college application process, I reflected a lot, and always came back to the same conclusion about my friends. Although we all had very different backgrounds, and came from different corners of the globe, we had one significant thing in common–we were all Third Culture Kids. We had gotten used to moving around and adapting to new cultures; it was the norm for us. We knew that coming and going was a part of our transient lifestyle. And we understood that our paths would most likely cross again one day.
John Cabot Friendships
That is exactly why I knew John Cabot University was the right place for me. I felt like my whole life had prepared me for JCU’s global atmosphere. When I got there, right away I felt at home. John Cabot was like a Third Culture Kid’s dream. I met fellow students from all over the world, including many of the countries I had grown up in. I got to practice and learn new languages with them, discuss cultural nuances, and share life stories. And, all in all, I got to make even more connections that I knew would last a lifetime.
Although I love my TCK friends from the many phases of my life, something about my John Cabot friendships were different; more tight-knit. The years spent at JCU were the most impactful and influential years of our lives. We learned so much about ourselves and each other, discovered the world, overcame hardships, and grew in so many ways. We all brought our own complicated, international stories with us, and become one giant group of global citizens.
And it is these very friends from John Cabot who are the ones I call in times of trouble, when I need advice or someone to talk to, or just when I’m traveling and planning to meet up with someone in whatever city I find myself in. It was at JCU that my understanding of the value of international friendships reached another level, and it was there that some of my most precious relationships and bonds were formed. I will forever be grateful.
Alexa Vujaklija (Shearer)
Class of 2015
Grew up in the United States, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Russia, and Bulgaria