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Eye of the Tiger

Global, family experiences shape freshman

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(NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

NICOLE KHUDYAKOV

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Many tourists deem their visits to foreign countries memorable, once in a lifetime experiences, but freshman Megan Bischof has an intimate familiarity with globetrotting.

Bischofs’ father, Daniel Bischof, is a vice embassador for the United States in the small country of Timor-Leste — also known as East Timor.

His initial status as a foreign service officer, and later a district mission manager lead Megan to live in multiple foreign countries growing up, along with the rest of her family.

“He wanted to travel and he grew up in one town his whole life,” Megan said. “He just wanted to go out and see things.”

Less than a year after her birth, Megan was whisked off to Seoul, South Korea. There, she and her family lived on a military base for several years.

According to Megan, life on a military base was closed off and much more isolated, which made it was difficult to understand the culture of the country around her.

“It was hard to get out and experience stuff,” Megan said. “The second you leave the military base, it’s so hectic.”

Following a stint back in DC, Megan and her family moved to Laos.

(COURTESY/MEGAN BISCHOF)

According to Megan’s mother, Dana Bischof, moving was both a nerve-wracking and exhausting endeavor. No matter where the family was headed next, the experience remained a difficult feat.

“It’s stressful, but it’s also really exciting to be able to experience a new place,” Dana said. “ There are downsides of course. It’s hard to make friends [and it is] especially hard to make friends quickly.”

Megan’s sister, Madison Bischof, agreed with the sentiment that certain parts of moving to each new country were made especially difficult by any previous ties they may have had.

“Hav[ing] to leave all those friends you just made is heartbreaking,” Madison said.

Settling in was also no easy task, as it required attempts to get to know the culture, in order to not be caught completely off-guard.

Developing a regular routine was a key method employed by the family, in order to settle in.

“Sometimes, you really love it and sometimes you’re counting the days until you can leave,” Dana said.

As the youngest of three siblings, Megan was in good company no matter where she and her family were headed. Her siblings’ presence mitigated much of the loneliness she would have otherwise experienced.

Madison Bischof found that traveling with her siblings led to a stronger bond and appreciated their positive influence.

“I really think it strengthened the relationship between me and my siblings,” Madison said. “The only thing that stayed the same was our family.”

Megan treasured the close relationship she was able to form with her siblings due to their unusual circumstances.

“My siblings were there with me a lot of the way [and] it made it easier to know we had each other,” Megan said.

After living in Laos, Megan once again moved back to DC for another two years.

She found that moving back to the United States and adjusting to life there was very difficult, because she wasn’t well-versed in American history and was unfamiliar with much of the culture.

“It’s the hardest thing about being a third culture kid,” Dana said.

After DC, Megan and her family moved to the Philippines for about three years. She greatly enjoyed the Philippines’ beauty and her time in the capital. Megan was able to make many fond memories in this time.

“It was the best years of my life, in the Philippines,” Megan said. “[The] most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, I have to say.”

The family’s next move brought them back to the United States, more specifically, to Washington DC.

They continued living in DC for a few years and moved to California a year ago, as many of Dana’s relatives live in-state.

“It’s really relaxed [in California],” Megan said. “I’m used to living in big cities.”

According to Megan, her father most likely plans on staying in East Timor for another two to three years.

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