Perratt on what is like to live around the world.
Ludovica Pauline Ardente: Your life has been an interrupted journey around the world. Born in Tokyo to a Japanese Mom and English Dad, you then moved to Beijing, Auckland, Tokyo again and now England. Where do you call home?
Jenny Perratt: If I had to choose, I would call Bristol home now. Basically, wherever my parents live is home to me - I don’t assign any physical location to it. When I was younger and living in New Zealand, I thought Auckland was “home”. But after I moved to Tokyo, I realized it was only home because my family was there - I didn’t actually end up missing the building or the neighbors.
Ardente: What has been the hardest part of changing countries so often?
Perratt: Not being able to identify with a specific culture. For example, when I lived in Beijing I told people I was British and Japanese. But now that I live in England, I don’t feel British. I haven’t learnt British History, and the British accent I thought I had actually sounds more Kiwi! But then again, I didn’t feel particularly attached to New Zealand while I was living there...
Ardente: You also had to adapt to different school systems, how did you benefit from this?
Perratt: The fact that I have been exposed to various teaching styles has made me more experienced. I was able to see that there is no ‘right way’ to learn - Tokyo, for example, was much more academic and grades-focused than New Zealand. It also has made me appreciate the British system I’m in now, which encourages discussion and independent thinking a lot more.
Ardente: How did you find the right balance between making new friends and keeping in contact with the old ones?
Perratt: Well, this is why I am thankful to technology. Through social media, I managed to keep in contact with my closest friends. In fact, the amount of dedication that they have shown in regularly messaging and calling me has only strengthened our friendship further. If I hadn’t moved countries, I would have never realized how committed our friendship was. As for making new friends, it was hard at first because I was a naturally shy person. When I moved to New Zealand, I only made my first friend halfway through the school year! But moving countries frequently has forced me to improve at this, so when I moved to Japan I didn’t have the same problem.
Ardente: What impact did these experiences have on you?
Perratt: I now know from experience how one’s environment can shape one’s opinions. I’ve also realised that identity is entirely self-defined, and that my parents’ nationality does not affect my identity. For me, my strongest influences are my peers and the schools I am in. I do not really believe in the concept of saying you are a nationality because it is subjective.
Ardente: So, if you could go back and choose, would you do it again?
Perratt: Yes I would. Even though it may feel lonely at times, it’s been a very interesting journey to meet people with so many different life experiences and opinions. I couldn’t imagine living in one place for my whole life, without connecting with the variety of cultures and people who’ve interacted with me as I’ve grown up.