Backpacking Teacher

Travel, teaching and things in between. Saigon is the focus for now.

Are expats a different breed? Why do we expatriate?

with 2 comments

2803117556_0283268b7f Whilst doing some more reading up on living in Vietnam I came across this fantastic blog called Dreaming of Hanoi. The blogger concerned is an expatriate by culture. A so-called third culture kid (3ck). 3ck’s are generally children who have spent a substantial time living in a culture different from their birth culture. Whilst I wouldn’t classify myself as a 3ck I certainly did experience growing up in two distinct cultures and have lived long enough in another two distinct cultures to have taken on some of that 3ck feeling of knowing and feeling comfortable in more than one culture.

What I loved so much about “Dreaming of Hanoi’s” blog was this section where she links this feeling of cultural rootlessness to phrenology (the pseudo and long since discredited “science” of determining personality traits by the bumps on our heads).


Perhaps, as the doctor in Heart of Darkness believes, the truth lies in phrenology: should we measure expat skulls to find some peculiarity that activates the urgency to expatriate? ( and will I ever succeed in writing a single expat-related post without referencing this novella?):

“‘Ever any madness in your family?’” asks the doctor as he takes calipers to the cranium of Marlow, our fictional counterpart. “‘I have a little theory which you messieurs who go out there must help me to prove.’”

This post made me laugh out loud. I identified with a lot of it but mostly I was taken with the idea of my head being felt up, a la Marlow, to find evidence of 3ck madness.

The original post can be found at

Photo used under creative commons licence:


Written by backpackingteacher

October 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for reading my blogging and appreciating this post! It’s one of my favorites:) Can’t wait to explore more of your blog!


    October 27, 2008 at 11:27 am

  2. I can see why it was one of your favourite posts … definitely a laugh out loud component to it


    October 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

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