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weird culture kids

Ngoc considers herself a Weird Culture Kid – so much so that she decided to write a book about it! Weird Cultures Kids will be officially launched on Saturday 19th December at 3pm CET (you are all invited, click here to join the event). While we wait, we asked Ngoc to introduce herself and her book to Expatclic. Thank you Ngoc and best of luck with your book!

The idea of writing Weird Culture Kids had always been in my mind growing up because from a very young age, I have always felt like I never belonged to any group concretely. I was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to Hanoi at the age of three only to be enrolled in the French international school shortly after that. Thus, I benefited from a very French rearing at school for the most part of my life (3 to 15 years old and from 8:30am to 5:30pm) and a very Vietnamese upbringing at home from 6pm onwards.

Even though I loved my childhood (it is still my favorite place to travel back to! 😉 ), I still remember vividly feeling awkward at countless moments – short though memorable ones – when my French friends would use a word that I didn’t understand or refer to cultural references that I didn’t get. And it didn’t stop there because the same thing happened when I was living my Vietnamese life in the evening when I was very often told that my handle of the Vietnamese language was very weak because I couldn’t fully understand all the jokes that were made by those my age.

weird culture kidsEventually, with time, I started to realize that I wasn’t fluent in either French or Vietnamese, but the combination of both languages made me feel “enough” somehow in my own little world. And journaling empowered me a lot because I could write in both languages, mixing words together, and understanding fully what I was trying to convey. I also highly enjoyed the action of writing in my diary in moments when I felt most confused until I was no longer so simply because the words are now written on a piece of paper — I, now, had control over them.

And I believe that was the origins of Weird Culture Kids, a diary of a little girl lost between different worlds and cultures.

This book is first and foremost a tribute to all of the Weird Culture Kids out there, wherever they might find themselves in the world today. Through this book, I wanted to not only celebrate all of the cultural weirdnesses that we have accumulated throughout our relocations and international schooling, but also demonstrate to the world that despite our rootlessness and our seemingly constant state of unbelonging, our tribe does, indeed, exist.

Consequently, anyone who is interested in the life of a weird culture kid and who belongs to a WCK’s support system, this book is also for you. It is a love letter and a thank you note to you all for seeing us through all of the fantastic moments, as well as the heartbreaking ones. Thank you for forgiving us for all of the times we might have blamed you for our identity crises. We, too, forgive you for not fully understanding the privileged pains that we endure as a WCK.

And for anyone who is about to embark on the journey of an expat – especially when you’re bringing your family along with you for the ride – I think that this book will be a great companion in your journey of transformation into something weirder than just your nation-based identity. I wish you the best of luck and the greatest of adventure.

After countless sleepless nights of identity-seeking and over a dozen of relocations, I have concluded that identity building is a fluid and never-ending process. In fact, with every new relocation and every new encounter that I’ve made over the year, my identity changes constantly because I find myself adopting once again “new” local rituals and customs. All of these elements that I pick up on my journey through life have slowly formed the identity that I now carry within me.

And I think that is exactly the definition of a Weird Culture Kid’s identity:

A WCK is a person who takes bits and pieces of the traditional and nation-state cultures previously experienced while growing up and mixes everything together to create their own customized culture. These customized cultures are deemed “weird” because, objectively, they have many different and conflicting elements within them, but somehow, for the WCK in question, things just seem to fit and flow.


Ngoc Nguyen
Paris, France
November 2020
Main pic: Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
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