Glossary of Terms

Adult Third Culture Kid:  Adult TCKs (ATCK) or Adult Third Culture Kids. These are TCKs who are now adults.  Mr. Barak Obama is currently one of the most famous ATCK in the world.  He lived in Hawaii and Indonesia during his formative years.

Cold-Climate Cultures: are usually more task and time oriented which results in more activities planned and an emphasis in completing those tasks more efficiently. Being on time and direct, honest communication are highly valued as a signs of respect.  The importance of individualism creates a desire for privacy and a need for personal space and time. Hospitality is a more rigid and reserved mostly for special occasions that require planning.  Guests usually will pay their own way when visiting from out of town.  Examples of places that may have more cold-climate cultures are Germany, Israel, New York City, Buenos Aires, etc.

Culture Shock:  feeling of confusion, doubt, or nervousness caused by being in a place (such as a foreign country) that is very different from what you are used to.  For example, a foreigner coming from a very crowded city (New Delhi, Tokyo or Cairo) may wonder why the streets in a Georgia suburb are empty and quiet at 10 p.m.  They may ask themselves, “Where are all the people?!”

EFL: English as a Foreign Language is the study of English by non native speakers living in a non-English-speaking environment.  You are learning English in a country where the primary language is not English. For example, a locally born and raised student at an international school learns English in his or her own country of birth.  He or she does not need English to function properly in his or her local society; but it is a great benefit and may result in securing a higher paying job in the future.

ESL: English as a Second Language.  You are learning English in a country where the primary language is English and not your native language.  For example, an elementary or primary school student whose parents have immigrated to the United States and whose primary language is not English, will be provided with ESL classes in many public schools.  They will need English to function properly within the majority English speaking society.

Hospitality: the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.

Hot-Climate Cultures: Relationships are more important than tasks or goods to be exchanged. Indirect communication and “saving face” is preferred to avoid shame or embarrassment. Group identity is most important where the individual conforms to the groups expectations and roles.  Hospitality and time orientation are more relaxed and flexible. Examples of places that may have more of a hot-climate culture are: México, rural areas in southern USA, Tanzania, (most of the developing world, actually) etc.

Immigrant: A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country:

International Student: it is the term used when referring to students crossing borders for the specific purpose of studying.

Reentry: (1) a second or new entry; (2) the action of reentering the earth’s atmosphere after travel in space

Refugee: a person who flees for refuge or safety, especially to a foreign country,as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.

Reverse Culture Shock: The shock suffered by some people when they return home after a number of years overseas. This can result in unexpected difficulty in readjusting to the culture and values of the home country, now that the previously familiar has become unfamiliar.

Third Culture Kid: “A third culture kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.”

Transition: A change from one thing to the next, either in action or state of being—as in a job transition or as in the much more dramatic example of a caterpillar making a transition into a butterfly.


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