Category Archives: TCK’s

The section is dedicated to the topic of Third Culture Kids (i.e. “A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.” def. by David C. Pollock)
The life as a Third Culture Kid or a Adult Third Culture Kid has many advantages but also some disadvantages. In my posts in this section I try to point out the major aspects of this kind of lifestyle.


Swiss Alps: from Disentis/Mustér to St. Moritz

Like many international families we tend to spend our summer holidays in a country where our children can meet family and discover something of one (or all) of their parents’ cultures. Since several years we spend a few weeks of the summer holidays in Switzerland for exactly this reason. We want our children to bond with family and to get a feeling of how life could be in Switzerland.

Personally, I find it important to discover Switzerland by using public transportation. If you don’t live in Switzerland or have an address there, it can be quite expensive. But there are ways to keep it low-cost (find more information on the SBB site).

The other day we chose to take a daytrip which involved a train ride from Disentis to St. Moritz (and back), travelling along the Rhaetian Railway.

(RhB Linienplan)

Coming from TIcino (near Biasca), we started our journey in Disentis/Mustér until Reichenau/Tamins and got on the Bernina Express to St. Moritz.


The Albula /Bernina lines run along 122 km of track and passes 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts and are a masterpiece of engineering. Its combination with the surrounding landscape made it to its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Rheinschlucht or Ruinaulta is also called the Swiss Grand Canyon, where the railway runs alongside the Rhine (Rhein) and the Ruinaulta amazes you with its bizarre geological formations.



Bildschirmfoto 2016-08-05 um 21.19.53


The amazing Albulaviaduct is between Bergün/Bravuogn and Preda – here below rendered by an interesting scupture that you can find at St. Moritz station.


In Bergün you can get off the train and visit the Railway Museum or decide to first admire the Albula Viaduct and descend right before the  Albula Tunnel in Preda.  The actual tunnel is going to be replaced by a new one in 2021, but will still be functioning as escape tunnel for the new one. – You want to find out more about the construction of the tunnel at the Albula Tunnel Infoarena in Preda: “packed with all manner of exhibits and facts in German and English worth knowing about geology, tunnel technology, logistics and other exciting subjects involving the region and its very own railway. Fun items such as a virtual footplate ride and children’s slides and climbing frames complete the list of attractions on offer.” – You can take a 90 minutes tour to discover all about the tunnel and the railway (I advise to book beforehand, especially in the weekends as the number of participants is limited!). Younger visitors will be delighted by the presence of Kobali the Mole, with an adventurous expedition through the construction site, „virtual blasting” and a surprise included!


We ended our journey in St. Moritz, the cradle of winter sports and where will take place the 2017 World Ski Championships.


The Bernina Express continues to Tirano through the amazing landscape up to Pontresina and Bernina – with the highest point at 2253m Ospizio Bernina) – before descending towards Poschiavo and Tirano. – We didn’t have that much time the other day, so we’ll have to return next year to complete our tour.

If you want to find out more about this route, visit the Rhaetian Railway site.


Some songs to remember

into the wild

The end of the schoolyear is the toughest time for expats or internationally living families. To the usual change of class the change due to friends moving abroad is the one that affects us the most. We begin early to build a R.A.F.T. and say goodbye over and over again… This is a very sad time of the year.

Continue reading

Enfants de Troisième Culture

Latest update 2.7.2015 / Dernière mise à jour 2.7.2015.

We can find many books and articles about Third Culture Kids – in French: Enfants de Troisième Culture – but little has been published in French up to now. This is why I’m setting up this bibliography that I will, hopefully, update regularly.

Il n’ya pas encore beaucoup de livres en français au sujet des Enfants de Troisème Culture. J’espère tout de même de pouvoir ajouter de nouveaux titres d’ouvrages, articles, films etc. ici.

Claudie Bert, S’expatrier en famille, ed. Village Mondial, 2005

Gaëlle Goutain, Adélaïde Russell, Le conjoint expatrié. Réussissez votre séjour à l’étranger, L’Harmattan, 2011

Delphine Joëlson Marteau, L’expatriation au féminin, L’Harmattan, 2013.

Gaelle Goutain et Adélaide Russell, L’enfant expatrié, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2009

Gylbert, Cécile, Les enfants expatriés: Enfants de Troisième Culture (Kindle), 2015

Livres pour enfants:

Karpathakis Emmanuelle, Pixie Déménage, Summertime, 2012. (traduit en différentes langues)

Karpathakis Emmanuelle, Les Vacances de Pixie, Summertime, 2013. (traduit en différentes langues)

Sites en français au sujet des Enfants de Troisième Culture ou Enfants Expatriés:

Psychologue pour Expatriés: posts, workshops etc. au sujet des Enfants de Troisième Culture (à Lyon). Emmanuelle Niollet propose aussi des thérapies par Skype pour les expatriés dans le monde entier – francophones et anglophones.

“Culture Shock: A Practical Guide” by Helene Rybol (a review and an interview)


We all experience culture shock to some extent and at some point of our lives. No matter if we spend only some weeks in a foreign place or if we stay for longer. Even when we repatriate after living some years abroad, we will get through this phase.

Helene Rybol compares culture shock, which once was described as “anxiety produced when a person moves to a completely new environment”, to a roller coaster. In fact, culture shock is part of the transition process and it usually comes after the so called honeymoon phase. We experience culture shock when we realize the differences, when we compare habits, languages, tastes, smells to what we experienced before. Culture shock will eventually lead to adjustment and adaptation if we deal with it in a healthy way.

The name culture shock suggests negative thoughts and feelings. Helene Rybol specifies that experiencing it is actually a chance to learn to broaden our horizons, to become more compassionate and open-minded. It is a chance to put our life into perspective.

“When it feels like we suddenly don’t control anything, everything around us simply happens and we’re not quite sure how to manage, it’s important to realize what we can control: our own behavior and attitude”

Since the first pages, Helene Rybol captures the readers’ attention by focussing on the person and by pointing out the positive effects this phase can have on our lives if we deal with it in a positive way.

In a very friendly and sensitive way, the author explains the symptoms of culture shock in terms of the feelings travelers experience while going through this phase (in the first chapter “A matter of perception”). These feeling are “only the surface” of the “emotional roller coaster” and one needs to find ways to digest them in order to adapt (p.15).

Helene Rybol’s tips are a precious toolbox that helps to “tap into our core, connect, trust ourselves, handle change”. By exploring our very personal comfort zones, we’ll be able to discover the new environment and embrace the new experience: “your own behavior can be a source of comfort”. Instead of clinging to preconceived notions, she advises and guides us to examine, relax, trust ourselves and consciously observe.

Helene Rybol gently leads us through the different stages of culture shock: when we “crave for comfort”, “process new information”, “cope without autopilot”, “deal with difficult situations” or alienation.

“Experiencing culture shock is a gift that helps us find our story within a world of stories and understand how we are connected”

By using humor and kindness as an antidote to culture shock and by focussing on our inner dialogue, by being proactive, curious and not afraid to ask we’ll successfully master this stage.

This book is a very precious guide that helps everyone who is going through culture shock to regain perspective, reassess and understand this process and boast self confidence.

What sets this book apart from others on the same topic is that instead of concentrating on the differences culture shock shows us, Helen Rybol turns the focus on what we have in common with the new culture.

“Underneath all of our apparent cultural differences, there are stories we all share, regardless of country or continent.”

“Go for it! Jump right in! Enjoy the journey!”

This book is a must read for everyone considering to spend some time abroad!


H.E.Rybol (Spain)


Helene Rybol was so kind to answer a few more questions about her book:

What made you decide to write a book about culture shock?

I’ve lived abroad all my life and I’m really interested in cultural transitions. I find the process invigorating and love those moments when you feel something shift or your perspective broaden. Writing about those moments and transitions seemed like a natural next step.

Culture shock often has negative connotations. I see culture shock as a good thing and I’m hoping this book will help people realize why while providing solutions to its challenges as well. I’m hoping this book is a comforting companion to anyone dealing with cultural transitions. Hopefully it’ll be inspiring, motivating and also something to fall back on when you’re feeling a little disoriented.

Would you recommend people who consider living abroad to follow a training where the kind of skills you mention in your book are taught?

Anything that helps ease that initial stress is a great idea!

What will you write next about? 

I’m working on my new website ( where I write about those moments when something shifted and publish interviews as well. I’m also working on a fictional story that includes some elements of cultural transitions, TCK life and more.

How can dealing with culture shock help us become better persons?

Culture shock pushes us to experience a different world view and see our own culture with different eyes. We expand our thinking and behavior. It helps us become kinder and more compassionate.

Thank you very much, Helene!



Please visit Helene Rybol’s website: Her book Culture Shock: A Practical Guide is available on her website and here.