Meet Jerica Xu (QST ‘22): Founder of Third Culture Club

Meet Jerica Xu, a sophomore majoring in Information Systems with an Entrepreneurship concentration in Questrom. Having grown up in Shanghai, Delaware, and Switzerland, Jerica is the president of Third Culture Club at BU, a club that seeks to foster a community on campus for those who identify as "third culture" to thrive and embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Her Campus BU sat down with her to learn more about her experience growing up in several different cultures and more about Third Culture Club.

Credit: Jerica Xu

HC: What was your childhood like?

JX: "I was born in the U.S, then moved to Shanghai when I was 2, and went to three different international schools there. When I was 12, I moved to Delaware, where I attended an American school. Then I moved to Basel, Switzerland for the second half of high school, and that is where my family lives right now. So, I grew up in a mixture of Chinese, American, and European cultures."

HC: When people ask where you’re from, what do you say?

JX: "I generally say I’m from Switzerland, but I moved around growing up. When people ask me more, I just say I grew up in Shanghai and the East Coast [of the U.S.], and went to high school in Switzerland. If they ask where my parents [are] from, I say I’m Chinese American."


Credit: Jerica Xu

HC: Why did you decide to start the Third Culture Club?

JX: "I decided to start the Third Culture Club because the experience of moving around and attending international schools growing up has shaped a large part of my identity. Growing up, I faced identity crises often, not feeling fully belonging to a certain cultural group. I was never Chinese to the local Chinese, but I was not fully American when I moved to America, and when I identified myself as a Chinese American in Switzerland, people [still] saw me as full on American.

However, as I embraced my own unique identity as a multicultural Third Culture Kid, a sense of self-confidence has replaced my previous sense of lostness and doubt. When I came to BU, I realized that there are many others like myself on campus, yet I noticed there was a gap in our community for a group of students like us. I wanted to create a community where TCKs can find each other, find a place to call home, and feel like they belong. So with a group of other TCKs, we started TCC at BU."

HC: Can you explain what the term “third culture” means, and what the purpose of TCC is?

JX: "Third Culture Kids (TCK) are people raised in a culture other than their parents' or the culture of the country named on their passport for a significant part of their early development years. They are often exposed to a greater variety of cultural influences. The three cultures of Third Culture Kids refers to the expatriate culture in which the student often grows up in, the culture of their passport country, and the culture of their host country.

TCKs often do not have a culture or geographical group that they can identify themselves with. Most TCKs do not know the answer to the question “Where are you from?”. Many have moved around several times growing up, and have had experience living in many different cultures. TCKs often understand the struggle of having no permanent identity and experience alienation from other cultural groups because they consider many places, or none of them, home.

As globalization is on the rise, there are more and more TCKs in our generation and among our student body. We hope to foster a community where TCKs feel like they belong and allow them to realize that there are many others who have had a similar childhood experience around them."

Credit: Jerica Xu

HC: Where was your favorite place you’ve lived?

JX: "I have really enjoyed all the places I have lived, so it’s really hard to say where my favorite place is because each place has pros and cons to it. For example, Shanghai just has so much to offer, and I love being in a big city and being around lots of people. There are always things going on around me. Delaware was the opposite, but it taught me what it means to have a supportive community, to dedicate time to service, to value teamwork through my sports teams, and to appreciate nature. Basel, Switzerland gave me the opportunity to be in the center of Europe, and be surrounded by so much diversity and so many global citizens.

It is really hard for me to choose, but if I had to choose one, I would say Shanghai, because that’s the city I lived in the longest and many of my fondest childhood memories are there, such as eating freshly made xiao long bao and shao bing from street food vendors or neighborhood BBQs to celebrate China’s Mid-Autumn Festival."

HC: In the future, where do you plan on settling down?

JX: "I don’t have a plan to where I would settle down. Perhaps right after college, I would stay in Boston for a few years, because I also really like Boston and it’s a great place to get started. However, I actually hope that I can continue to move around to different countries and places. I really enjoy meeting new people, trying new things, and having diverse and different experiences. I think by moving to new countries it has forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Everytime I move, I learn more about myself and build stronger self-awareness. I think I would like to try living in cultures and environments that I have not yet lived in; no solid plan yet though."

HC: What do you miss the most about wherever you consider to be “home”?

JX: "Every time I attempt to take the BU bus, I miss the clean and efficient tram system in Basel where the trams are always on time and come every 7 minutes. I miss all the 10 yuan [less than $2] xiao long bao from street food vendors in Shanghai. I definitely miss all the food in Shanghai; all the options!

Jerica Xu's experiences and decision to start the Third Culture Club helped her embrace her own unique identity. You can learn more about Third Culture Club via their Facebook or Instagram.

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