The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

Introduce Me - The Entering Stage

This is a preview to the chapter Introduce Me - The Entering Stage from the book The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition by Tina L. Quick.
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The fourth stage of the transition cycle is the Entering stage. This stage begins when you decide, either consciously or unconsciously, that you are going to settle in and connect with this new place. Unlike the leaving stage which ends when you land in the new place, the Transition stage does not have a clear-cut ending. Many of the emotions and reactions we talked about in the Transition stage continue on into the Entering stage.

What makes the Entering stage different from the Transition stage is:
  • The chaos has settled down.

  • The storm is over and the dust has settled.

  • One day it dawns on you that you know how to get from point A to point B without stopping and asking directions.

  • You know where to find the best pizza in town and now know much more than the newcomer.

  • You have routines in place.

  • You are not constantly bombarded with new information that needs to be processed.


You have pretty much done what processing needs to be done, although there will still be times you are caught culturally off-guard and need to review the operative rules in this new place. Transition is a constant learning activity. In fact, some will say that you have finally finished your adjustment once you understand the jokes!

Unpack and Connect


This is the time you feel ready to unpack your mind. Up until now you have been in the survival mode and getting all your settling-in needs met such as
  • finding out where to shop,

  • arranging all your banking and communication needs,

  • sorting out classes, finding clubs and activities to join, and

  • figuring out how everything works in this new place.

You’ve been busy taking in all that is new and different, learning the social and cultural rules of the new community. Things are no longer overwhelming and chaotic, but you may still be feeling a bit marginal, vulnerable and uncertain.
Don’t be surprised when, after the dust settles from the chaos of transition, you begin to succumb to coughs, colds, flu or other physical ailments. Your body has been producing constant amounts of epinephrine to respond to the stress associated with this stage and just when you are beginning to feel a bit more comfortable in your new environs and are more relaxed, you start feeling the effects of being in such a heightened state of alertness and readiness for so long.

Your protective reflexes are down, tired out and you start to feel fatigued or become ill. This too will pass. Now is the time to take care of yourself.
Once the heightened alertness of the survival mode settles down, you begin to find the time, energy and interest to really connect with people. Up to this point your relationships have been fairly superficial. You have been meeting so many people at once and been receptive to all of them, but you haven’t had the opportunities for developing deep relationships just yet.

…or Disconnect?
When you are ready to start developing friendships, it may come as a surprise to find yourself having difficulties making those connections. Because you can speak a variety of languages, have strange values and world views (comparatively speaking), and tell far out stories, your international upbringing has made you different from your home-country peers. You have no shared experience with them. You may not know their pop culture or common jokes. Some young adults never learned the childhood songs or games that their peers did. You may understand your peers to some degree, but they certainly don’t understand you. They have no frame of reference for you and they really aren’t quite sure what to do with you.

Feeling Different


Besides the unexpected reality of having to deal with culture shock, particularly when it is their home country, the inability to connect with their domestic peers is one of the major preoccupations of TCKs. In a 1998 research study of 698 ATCKs, Ruth Useem and Ann Baker-Cottrell of San Diego State University found that three-fourths of adult TCKs feel different from others who have not lived abroad as children, and especially from those who have had no international experience.

Not Belonging


In all the discussions, interviews and forums when I have asked TCKs what issues they struggled with at college or university, the issue of not fitting in/not belonging is what immediately surfaces. Global nomads feel different from their peers and therefore, aren’t quite sure where they fit or belong. They know they aren’t really American, British, German, or whatever their home country is, but they can’t really call themselves a foreign national even though they may feel like it, unless of course, they have continued on to yet another new host country for university. In some respects, those students have a somewhat easier adjustment because they expect the culture will be different, but they still suffer the same relationship issues.

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What else is in the chapter 'Introduce Me - The Entering Stage'?

Who Am I and Where Do I Belong?

As you may remember from before, Katrina, my middle daughter, had a difficult time settling into her new school when we repatriated. We left the U.S. when she was just ...

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Identity in Belonging

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Double Whammy

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Rootlessness

Too often, TCKs do not have the time they need to develop lasting relationships that affirm them or stay rooted long enough to develop a sense of belonging. This is ...

Where are You From?

TCKs come to dread any version of the question which petitions where they come from or what is considered home to them. How do you answer the question, “Where are ...

Answering the Question

Some transition experts suggest a good way of dealing with the ambiguity is to respond with, “Right now I am living in (name of place).” If the person is interested ...

Restlessness

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Hidden Immigrant

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Look Alike/Think Differently

It is easier as a foreigner to enter a new culture when you do not resemble the dominant culture at all. Because you look different, the host culture people will ...

How You Look Matters

In the U.S. as well as many other countries, it matters how you physically look to the dominant culture. People don’t think about culture, they think about race, about how ...

Not Just Re-entry

The hidden immigrant experience doesn’t just happen with re-entry. If you are a FS or TCK going on to another host culture and you look like the dominant culture, you ...

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Nor There

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Loss of Control

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Embracing Your Experiences

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Marginal, Introducing, Vulnerable

Marginal

Just like our semester abroad student mentions in her journal entry, self-doubt can set in when you feel you are not relating well to others. You can become self-conscious about ...

Introducing

The Entering stage is a time when: ...

Vulnerable

This is a vulnerable time for all college freshmen as they sort out their personal identities, but it is especially so for TCKs who are not only dealing with the ...

Emotions Still in Flux

It is not at all uncommon in the Transition and Entering stages to have really good days interspersed with down days, blue days with happy days, wildly exciting days with ...

Entering Well

The hustle and bustle has settled and you are committed to making this place and this experience work for you. There are a few things you can do that will ...

Expect Surprises

Things happen all the time that take us by surprise. Remember the water fountain story? I laugh at another story an ATCK tells of landing back in the US and ...

Find a Mentor

The saying goes, “You need a mentor to enter.” The key to negotiating the entry stage is to find someone you can trust who will introduce you to the community ...

Embrace the Journey

Make the most out of your time wherever you end up. Embrace your experience. It is a journey. You chose this place for some reason that perhaps initially escapes you, ...

Stay Positive

No matter how irritable or hostile you may be feeling, don’t give in to the temptation to mock or belittle your culture. It is very easy to get caught up ...

Home Again – Re-involvement

How Long Does it Take?

At one of my “Transitioning Successfully for University” seminars, a student asked the question, “How long does it take to get through the transition cycle?” So we directed it to ...

Finding Friends Frenzy

The search for friends starts immediately upon hitting campus, especially during orientation – almost in a frenzied way. Everyone is looking for that new best friend. No one likes being ...

Changing Relationships

Some of you will find your best buddy right away and keep him or her for life. Other friends will drift away in the Entering stage. They go in search ...

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"One of the greatest needs of an adolescent is to belong. Place on top of that ‘coming home’ where you..."

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