I am from Georgia, an old country with ancient history and traditions. My father is a diplomat so I have been living in different countries my whole life. I was born in Turkey, but I only lived there for four months. After that we moved to Greece, which was my first impression of life in a foreign country. I remember how happy I was when my parents took me to an international kindergarten, but it all changed when I realized that nobody could understand me. I had to mime and use my hands to explain what I was trying to say. After a few months there, I started to speak English. Even though I was very young, I still remember the Acropolis and the beautiful seaside where I’d go with my brother and my friends. It’s a pity that I didn’t have the chance to learn Greek.
From Greece, we went back to Georgia. I was pleasantly surprised that everybody around me was speaking Georgian. Everything was going well and then my dad was appointed as the Ambassador of Georgia in Czech Republic. I was sad to leave Georgia, but still looking forward to being in a new country.
My great first impressions of Prague were followed by complications. My brother and I had to go to a Czech school, which meant we had to learn a completely new language. We rushed to take language lessons, so we could catch up with our studies. The situation was made better by our Georgian friends who had already lived in Prague for many years and our teachers who tried to help us overcome the language barriers.
When it seemed that everything was starting to go well, suddenly my father got appointed to a new post in Georgia. We had to leave everything that we had worked so hard for. Once again, I had to re-establish myself in my hometown. It was very surprising for me, because even though I was in my home country I felt like a foreigner. Everybody thought I was different from them.
Less than a year later, the war between Russia and Georgia broke out. My brother and I were on holiday in Turkey at the time and the road between Turkey and Georgia was under heavy bombardment. It was impossible for us to go home, so our uncle took us from Turkey to Germany. We didn’t plan on staying there for a long time but we ended up staying for two years. My brother and I already spoke a little German. It didn’t take us a long time to get used to everything and learn the language, probably because we’d done it so many times before. Our uncle was very supportive – he tried to be our mother, father and uncle at the same time.
During these two years, my father was appointed as the Ambassador of Georgia in China and my parents moved to Beijing. My brother decided that he wanted to go to Beijing, while I chose to stay-on in Germany. After a while I wanted to be with my family again, so I decided to move to Beijing as well. I have been in Beijing for almost a year and so far it’s been great. I am happy with my school, my teachers and my friends.
The hardest part about being a third-culture kid is constantly adapting to new environments and having to make new friends – especially as a teenager. The positive side is that I get to learn about different cultures and have friends all over the world. Being a third-culture kid has taught me how to adapt to new communities, and I have to say, it is quite fun.
Niko Sikharulidze is 15 years old and attends Beijing World Youth Academy.