‘Don’t you feel uprooted?’ I have been asked this multiple times in my life. Due to my father’s work, my family moved to a new country every few years. I continued this habit (and it does feel like a habit, I still suffer itchy feet every so often) after I left home. In total I have lived in 8 countries some of them on more than one occasion. I have made 13 international moves, and many more internal moves within each country.
But, no, I do not feel uprooted – and I feel quite passionately about that. I am Swedish, and in addition to Sweden I have lived in the USA, Uruguay, Italy, Austria, Belgium, the UK, and Costa Rica. I have loved it, and cherished every experience, every language learned, every culture embraced and every person met. As a result, however, I have no real concept of traditional family home, or what “going home” means. And I am more than OK with that. I can choose what I consider home and who is included in that.
I fall under the category of “Third culture kid”. It’s not a label I particularly care for or embrace, but it does explain my background. I understand and appreciate that my experience is a hugely privileged one (although not everyone would see it that way, and consider the life style a burden, being repeatedly removed from friends and patterns). I’ve never had to worry about whether I would be allowed to be in a country, never considered limitations or burdensome applications.
Interestingly, however, it wasn’t until I entered the field of migration that I started considering myself a migrant. I’m probably as migratory as they come, but that label was never given to me, said to me, or really explained to me as something that I would fall under. But it certainly applies, even though in my younger years the decision to move was not mine.
I have 4 siblings. We are all now spread out all over the place, with two determinedly returning to and staying in Sweden, one settling in the USA and one on Jersey. I currently live in Oxford, where I have been for the last 10 years.
As a Swedish citizen, I am waiting with baited breath to see what will happen with Brexit. Growing up, and in my adult years, movement has always felt like an optional, positive thing. I have often moved at whim (both within and outside the EU) and enjoyed the results on my arrival. Brexit may now make that move a must. This is a new relationship to movement for me. But I am still aware of what a privileged relationship I have to migration. I still have options and choices.
One can of course not be blind to the fact that my ease of movement is connected to my country of origin, my race, and my economic social status. Why should that be so?
By: Ida Persson