Student Journeys

What it Means to Be from Different Cultures

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “Where are you from?” especially after moving to London. It’s a simple question for many; their answer might be very straightforward, like a specific country or a blend of cultural roots. However, for me, this query makes me question my entire identity. Unlike those who can easily pinpoint their cultural origins, I find myself confused with a sense of not belonging anywhere, unable to seamlessly fit into any diverse cultures that have shaped my life. Being a third-culture kid has its many perks, but it also means being “forever lost”. This is because I don’t identify with the culture that my parents grew up in and simultaneously never fit in with the culture that I grew up in. My background is quite diverse; my ancestors were from a village in Gujarat. Generations ago, they embarked on a journey to Madagascar during colonial times, arriving with nothing and navigating the delicate balance of preserving aspects of their heritage while immersing themselves in a completely unfamiliar world.

When I think about it, it’s a beautiful concept of providing future generations, including myself, with vast opportunities to explore the world. However, this privilege came at a cost: sacrificing part of our identity. In their pursuit of a better life, my ancestors left behind a part of their Gujarat heritage, making it a distant memory for the next generations. This decision left a void of ancestral connection and the essence of being from Gujarat. This void was filled with many different cultures and traditions, but I could never call it my own. Being a resident of Madagascar my entire childhood is a huge part of my identity, including the fusion of French culture where I was initially born.

This mix of cultures, languages, and people has shaped my speech and thinking. I can’t exactly say I’m from Gujarat because I’ve never lived there or visited it; nobody knows what village they were from. Additionally, it doesn’t feel right when I say I’m from Madagascar. I have lived there my entire life, but it feels like I don’t belong there, and my French roots are only tied to my nationality. Despite having the feeling of being an outsider wherever I live or travel, having to juggle between so many different cultures has taught me to adapt very quickly to unfamiliar environments. I have developed a unique blend of values, traditions, and perspectives that I hope to further as I grow older and hopefully find a place I can call home.

 Layecha Fidahoussen

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