My Third Culture Kid – Global Nomad Experience

I am a Global Nomad and have been all my life, primarily because I grew up as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) living between worlds.

From the Jungle…

The story of my birth is one of those stories that is told and retold: much to my feigned annoyance. But it is a story that expresses completely the outstanding character of my beautiful parents Dean and Eleanor Theobald and the incredible life they chose to live deep in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

I was born out in the jungle somewhere between the boat and the plane – my first form of transportation and the cause of my passionate love of flying to this day!

My parents served the indigenous people of PNG as faith-based social workers and we lived amongst the Nimo people in their Stone Age-like society where cannibalism had only recently been banned by the government.

The world in which I grew up was both carefree as I swung from vines and raced through the jungle with my village friends, and at times fearful as I watched wide-eyed while my father stood in front of drawn bows and arrows in attempt to stop a tribal war or when my mother almost died of a tropical disease with no medical help for miles.

We were separated by millennia from the advancements of the Western world. We lived beyond all roads; it was a two-hour boat ride/two-hour hike and a two-hour plane ride from a grass airstrip to reach the nearest shack that could be called a store.

I was home-schooled in the village until sixth grade when I attended boarding school in the highlands of PNG.

The Travel Bug Begins…

After graduating from high school in PNG, I swore I would never go to college and dreaded returning to the US – the land I at first viewed through a third culture kid perspective to be only ‘materialistic, shallow individualism’, which so sharply contrasted my simple, socialist upbringing where community is the root of existence.

I decided I wanted to experience more of the world and for eight months I traveled through many places in Asia, Europe and Africa. In Uganda, I had the pleasure of helping start a school for AIDS orphans.

Finally I decided it was time to face the home of my passport and skin color and I returned to the US. With braided hair and tattered skirt I arrived into the Minneapolis MN airport.

The date was December 7th, 2001 and my tropical blood and thin clothing is no battle for the ripping negative 20 degree winds of the Minnesota winter.

The US is everything I dreaded – at first – but time brings new outlooks and I grow to appreciate the US for the opportunities and rights that it offers. This is the beauty of being a third culture kid – you exist between worlds and choose the best of both, mingling them into a culture of your own.

I lived in Minnesota for a year working, volunteering with inner city youth and getting my EMT license.

College – Finally!

I finally decided to take on that thing they call “furthering your education” and began attending college in Branson, MO at College of the Ozarks.

First, I studied Education but after volunteering on the Fire department and using my EMT license to work as an emergency room technician in the Branson Hospital, I finally give in to the greater guide of my life and the inner passions He has placed in me.  I change my major to biology to pursue a medical career.

Although I have developed an appreciation for the US it is still not my home and definitely far from the culture of my comfort.

Medical School for International Health in Israel

So when I discovered a medical school that is entirely devoted to international health, in Israel, I do not fight this time – it is a perfect fit and God has me exactly where He wants me!

Now three years of medical school and living in Israel have passed (see The Promised Land and More). I am currently taking a year off and am working in a clinic in Vietnam shadowing Dr. Alkan – and outstanding teacher from my medical school in Israel.

Travels for Discovery ~

I have decided to take this year off because I have reached that point in my medical studies where I must choose which field of medicine to pursue.

I desire to work in a developing country and after being in the developed world so long, I feel the need to experience my roots once again in order to more thoughtfully decide what I want to do with Medicine.

I will work with a doctor in Vietnam for a month and have plans to travel around Asia before working for 6 months in a hospital in Guatemala starting in January – but these are Shelly’s plans. I have since given my year to God and am excited to see what crazy path He will take me on next!

My Third Culture Kid – Global Nomad Experience RELATED LINKS:

Read Other Adventures from Journey of a Jungle Girl

Read about more stories like Driving a Motorbike in Vietnam -Motorbike Adventures in Nha Trang Vietnam

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