School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Alexandra Barnett


Third, Culture, Kids, Repatriation, Higher, Education


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Higher Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand, as a lived experience, the impact of repatriation on Third Culture Kids (TCKs). For this study, repatriation was generally defined as the transitional process of an individual moving from a host country back to the home country to attend college. The central research question for this study was aimed to gain insight into the lived experiences of TCKs whose lives were impacted by repatriation for higher education. The research sub-questions were designed to gain an understanding of the perceptions TCKs have about the preparedness of higher education institutions to meet the needs of repatriating students. The theoretical framework for this study was based on Berry’s (2003;2005; 2006) acculturation theory. Berry ‘s (2003) theory was based on TCK attitude towards the home culture and host culture. Berry’s (2005) acculturation theory suggests the individual’s TCK upbringing in a host culture impacts values, beliefs, and identity. Berry’s (2006) theory suggests that the level of acceptance from the host society will impact the repatriation process. There were 12 adult participants who participated, all over the age of 18 and who have spent a minimum of four years living in a host country before repatriating for higher education to the United States. Data collection included a screening questionnaire, semi-structured individual interviews, a single focus group interview, and personal artifacts. Data were analyzed using NVivo to create themes based on repeated words and phrases from the collected data. Five themes emerged: (1) TCK Benefits, (2) Social Repatriation Challenges, (3) Personal Repatriation Challenges, (4) Cultural Repatriation Challenges, and (5) Services and Supports. Several sub-themes also emerged from this study.