There’s a term for those who grow up among worlds: third culture kid (TCK), coined by US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950s. The longer definition is an individual who was raised in a different culture from their parents’ or the culture of their country of nationality, or those who spent a significant part of childhood living outside their passport countries.
A culture-hopping phenomenon and a by-product of globalisation, TCKs often deal with the question, “Where are you from?”, which usually requires an in-depth explanation of one’s life story. And while they feel intensely connected to their host countries and cultures, some struggle with their identity and a sense of belonging.
But not J Lou, the Eurasian rice-obsessed content creator who’s thriving as one of Asia's many TCKs.
Born and bred in Hong Kong in a French-Chinese family (French father, Chinese mother), Lou attended both local and international schools growing up, which meant that she had a head start in mastering her linguistic ability while experiencing two different kinds of education systems.
“I grew up in that environment where I had to learn different languages. The cultures and languages were all muddled together but I’m super blessed and privileged to have these cultures behind me and to observe the differences between the Western and Asian cultures which not many people can experience,” says the 26-year-old.
In 2016, two years into her study at City University of Hong Kong (from where she would later graduate with a Translation and Interpretation degree), Lou began posting up bite-sized videos about her bicultural upbringing and life, which she calls her 'mou liu pin' (Cantonese for nonsensical videos), on Snapchat.
After earning a following, she decided to create a YouTube channel and Facebook page where she can host longer-form content. "I love that I’m able to share those experiences with humour through my content. It’s great that there are so many people like me in the world, TCKs or Asians in Western countries. They grew up experiencing both cultures and that’s most of my audience–the Australians or the Americans. That’s why a lot of people in these places can relate to my mixed culture content," she shares.