This book will benefit any teenager transitioning out of one culture and into another for university, as well as parents looking for advice on how to help their children enter this new phase of their life. Though there is no way to completely eliminate the challenges that a TCK will face, having this knowledge beforehand and keeping Quick’s useful suggestions in mind will undoubtedly make the transition easier.
Why is it so hard to go back home? Why do students who grow up abroad – third culture kids (TCKs) – have such a difficult time when they return to a place they have grown up calling ‘home?’ David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken explain in their book, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds that their cross-cultural, highly mobile lifestyles impact children in more ways than one could imagine. The benefits reaped are numerous, but certain challenges become apparent as soon they step out of the third culture – the expatriate culture where they have a sense of belonging with others of shared experience.
It has been my experience that there are four main areas that can create stumbling blocks for TCKs facing the college/ university transition or repatriation and if they are aware of these ahead of time, they end up having a much smoother adjustment. I talk about these and much more in my book written specifically for the TCK student and other internationals and the parents who prepare them and come alongside them in this transition, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Education.
TCK Identity Development
Dr. Barbara Schaetti has done extensive work on TCK identity development. She clearly explains what happens to many expat kids when leaving their host country and the expatriate culture. She says most TCKs will have an experience that wakes them up to the fact they are different from others. Typically they don’t take into account that their international experiences make them different. All they know is that they don’t fit in and don’t belong. If they come to the realization their life experiences have been very different from most of the people they are surrounded by, they can learn to be comfortable with who they are. Suggested reading on TCK identity development can be found in Raising Global Nomads by Robin Pascoe.
Anyone going through any type of major life transition goes through five predictable stages. Every first-year college student will go through these same five stages as they adjust to life as an independent adult, but TCKs and foreign students have a cultural adjustment to make too. Each of the five stages and the associated emotional responses that take place in each is described in my book. Knowing what takes place in each of these stages not only prepares us but also helps us to appreciate that it is expected, normal, and temporary.
The high mobility lifestyle of a global nomad means there is a lot of separation and loss.
When we lose people, things and places that are important to us we need to grieve over them. Allowing grief to run its course is considered ‘good grief.’ When TCKs can put a name on their loss, spend time with it, and mourn over it, they can come to closure and move forward.
The most common complaint of repatriating TCKs is feeling as if they don’t belong, don’t fit in, can’t connect with their peers. There are many reasons for the disconnects but to begin with TCKs need to remind themselves they are different from their domestic peers – not as human beings, of course, but because their life experiences are very different from someone who grows up in a traditional, non-mobile community. They need to find commonalities with their home-country peers. That’s one reason we recommend groups such as USA Girl Scouts Overseas – it’s a place to find others who have had the same shared experience wherever they have lived.
Not every TCK is going to have a difficult time making the adjustment back home or to college/ university. In fact, because they are used to change they often tend to fare better than many of their domestic peers. But for those who are not prepared, it can be difficult to recover from the unexpected challenges. Advance preparation can significantly ease the adjustment process and allow these wonderfully gifted students to use their international experiences to make the most of the college years and beyond.
For an extensive list of other useful resources, visit International Family transitions
Tina L. Quick, author of The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition
Whether you’re a diplomat, missionary or study abroad student, “The Expat Activity Book” (CreateSpace, 2014) will give you new tools and insight for personal growth.
Whether you’re a diplomat, a military family member, a recently returned volunteer, missionary, study abroad student or intern, The Expat Activity Book (CreateSpace, July 2014) is designed to give you new tools and insight for personal growth. Written in an accessible, conversational style, The Expat Activity Book draws on author Jodi Harris’s years of experience as an expat, social worker and life coach. Each of the activities addresses a specific experience commonly faced by people who move from one country to another, including: understanding how to better live outside your comfort zone, cultivating awareness in the face of culture shock, developing community, preparing for transition, and many more. The self-paced activities can be revisited as needed and repeated any number of times. This book’s twenty activities will help you get unstuck, look at things anew and home in on what matters most to you…wherever you are.
Expat Bookshop’s comprehensive list of the best TCK and CCK blogs and websites! (A to M)
Have we missed anything?
Let Jack know at email@example.com.
ALIENS AT HOME
Reflections, discoveries, and a search for deeper understanding from Harmony, a 20-something TCK with an American-raised mother and Greek, Egyptian-born father who was raised in Quebec, Canada. Harmony was born in Thailand before moving to America when she was 8 years old. She currently works in Thailand as a boarding assistant (i.e. a guardian/supervisor) for 15 missionary kids attending school away from home.
DR ANISHA ABRAHAM, MD
Anisha helps teens, parents, professionals and organizations navigate adolescence successfully.
CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH NETWORK
Covers a range of mental health challenges for kids, including TCK challenges.
Third culture kids, cross cultural awareness, and Chameleon project – a multi-disciplinary dance production.
As a TCK, Lauren Owen grew up in Taiwan before relocating to the United States for college. Since then she has lived in Massachusetts, USA; Italy and North Carolina, and travelled briefly in Thailand and Haiti. A former teacher turned social justice advocate, she enjoys incorporating her TCK perspective into social justice issues through writing.
CHRONIC-ILLS OF RACH, THE
Rachel chronicles her life with a progressive form of the rare disease Dysautonomia. Sharing her life experience always includes discussion of her nomadic childhood as a TCK. Sometimes opinion pieces, sometimes nostalgic memory pieces and a lot of talk about the issues Rachel faces currently.
COMMUNICATING ACROSS BOUNDARIES
A space for thoughtful dialogue in a polarized world. With essays on third culture kids, cross-cultural communication, faith and more, the authors invite others to join the conversation.
CROSS CULTURAL KID
Blog of Ruth E. Van Reken, a second-generation adult TCK and mother of 3 ATCKs. Ruth speaks and writes on issues related to global family living. She is co-founder of Families in Global Transition.
Reflections on language, culture and communication, including global nomads and third culture kids, international students and families, international transition, and intercultural communication.
An online magazine and community dedicated to the global nomad. Has personal essays, studies, and interviews with third culture kids.
DIARY OF A MOVE
A story about crossing borders and cultures. Addressed to all those who have been foreigners at least at some point in their lives. Katia describes herself as “a Greek by birth and a perpetual foreigner by choice”. She has lived in eight cities and seven countries in the last 20 years.
DIPLOMAT’S DAUGHTER, A
Focuses on Third Culture Kids, boarding school, university life in Cornwall, and Annabel’s stories from around the world.
“All about kids growing up in other cultures. Third culture kids. Expat kids. Refugee kids. Immigrant kids.” Of Dutch parents, Janneke was born in Zambia, schooled in Malawi and Zimbabwe and today lives in the Netherlands.
Adventures and reflections from an adult TCK and global nomad. Kathleen had lived on five continents by the time she was 18.
EXPAT MUM: OBSERVATIONS FROM THE U.S. OF A
The irreverent blog of Toni Summers-Hargis, a Brit who moved to the US and is a certified “observer of Pond issues”. Also the author of Rules, Britannia and The Stress-Free Guide To Studying In The States.
Find Toni’s book, The Stress-Free Guide To Studying In The States, here on Expat Bookshop.
Founded by expat and psychologist Vivian Chiona, Expat Nest offers professional online counselling to internationals, as well as regular and relevant support and inspiration through Vivian’s blog. Expat Nest’s articles are written by both experts and expats, and cover a range of topics unique to the expat life (e.g. relationships abroad; developing/maintaining
EXPATPSI – EL CONSULTORIO DE PSICOLOGÍA ONLINE PARA EXPATRIADOS Y MIGRANTES (Spanish)
A tool for Spanish-speaking expats/migrants/ATCKs. For Paula Vexilit having enough information to either make informed decisions or know what to expect is to take a prevention-oriented approach. As a clinical psychologist and researcher, she has listened to many people suffering due to the lack of resources in Spanish. Topics include: the TCK experience, accompanying partners, managing the grieving process, expat parenting and other classical challenges of the expat lifestyle.
EXPAT SINCE BIRTH
Reflections from an “expat-since-birth multilingual mum” living in the Netherlands with her Swiss-German husband, son and twin daughters. Ute writes about multilingualism, multiculturalism, TCKS and ATCKs, parenting and expat life in general.
EXPAT TEENS TALK
By the authors of Expat Teens Talk. See the archives for personal teen experiences and contributions.
Find their book, Expat Teens Talk, here on Expat Bookshop.
FAMILIES IN GLOBAL TRANSITION
The global leader in cross cultural education and training to support the entire expat family. FIGT offers information-packed conferences and year-round benefits through its Membership Program and expanding educational website.
GATHERING MUSTARD SEEDS
The musings, dreams and prayers of a TCK raised in Japan, Australia, and Romania.
Written by an adult TCK, a broad look at what it is to be human, from an international perspective. Poetry, articles and songs.
Intentional Expat is a blog presenting topics related to mental health and well-being among expats, ATCKs and other globally mobile individuals and couples. Articles are written by Dr. Melissa Parks, a psychologist working with this population, who is an expat herself.
one of the best resources online with information on seminars, books, articles. Also home to the Among Worlds magazine. “Today’s voice for third culture kids and internationally mobile families.”
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF MISSIONARY KIDS
Organisation dedicated to equipping MKs educationally, emotionally, and spiritually through the challenges they face.
Jenna currently lives in a small town in Indiana, but grew up in four different countries: Canada, Indonesia, Brazil, and the USA. She writes about her growing identity as an ATCK, life as a young adult, career development, faith and spirituality, and general thoughts about life.
JSIMENS – HELPING FAMILIES WORLDWIDE
This blog has a large following of international educators and global families. Julia writes about things that benefit the global family and about her own two TCKs life as they both have lived abroad since birth.
As an educator, speaker, author and consultant, Julia has a gold-medal global perspective on children and parenting. She and her family have navigated nine international relocations, which has provided her the opportunity to work with over 8,000 families on five continents.
Find Julia’s book, Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, here on Expat Bookshop.
KID WORLD CITIZEN
Activities that help young minds go global. This site is a fun and educational site with constant updates of activities, articles, and general resources.
LAST BOARDING CALL, THE
A blog about caregiving, aging, death and disability for adult TCKs and global nomads and the globally mobile family. Penned by a second-generation TCK, writer and educator.
MANGO TREE REFLECTIONS
The audience of Lois’s blog is Adult TCKs and expatriates, and the therapists who work with them. The purpose is to gain insight into the world of ATCKs and expatriates.
Find Lois’s book, Belonging Everywhere & Nowhere, here on Expat Bookshop.
MELISSA WRITES OF PASSAGE
The website and blog of Melissa Dalton-Bradford, author of Global Mom: A Memoir. Features articles on anything from relocating to global parenting to TCKs.
MODERN LOVE LONG DISTANCE
Lisa McKay is an ATCK and has lived overseas her entire life. She gives great tips and advice for keeping relationships alive across the miles.
A fraternal association for MKs.
Rita Rosenback offers support and advice for families with more than one language. Rita is the mother of two multilingual daughters and has extensive experience in working with bilinguals.
MY THIRD CULTURE
For TCKs and those willing to learn more about TCKs. Includes world recipes, articles, photographs and more, as well as contributions by TCKs.