Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Sociology (SOCL)

First Advisor

Rachel Washburn, Ph.D.


Rapidly increasing globalization, couples with the growth of multinational corporations, has led to more and more people choosing to pursue international careers and move their families abroad, assisted by the rise in international schools across the globe and the development of technologies that allow for connections to be maintained over large distances. Indeed, this trend has given rise to a swiftly expanding group of individuals who have spent a significant portion of their developmental years outside the culture of their parents and who are identified as Third Culture Kids (TCKs). While there is significant research that has studied TCKs who are still in school as well as adult TCKs in the workforce, there has been little investigation into the lived experiences of elderly TCKs. To explore this, in-depth interviews were conducted with 15 female participants aged 60 years or older who were of European descent but had spent the majority of their lives in Africa. An interpretive phenomenological analysis revealed the diverse ways in which the transition to life abroad played out, the consistently transformative impact of the transition, and the unique blended identity participants adopted that balanced ties to the home country with a strong connection to Africa. These findings contribute to more nuanced understanding of the long-term impacts of life as a TCK and its effect on identity and self-fulfillment.