This is a preview to the Preface from the book The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition by Tina L. Quick.
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If the college/university-bound student’s family happens to repatriate at the same time, younger secondary school-aged siblings will also benefit from the pages of this book. Many of the same psychosocial issues will apply to them as well.
My hope is that institutions of higher education will also understand the value of learning about the journey home for these global nomads in order to better support them. Since they are neither truly from their home country nor from their host country, it is too easy for them to fall through the cracks.
International students in the traditional sense – coming from their home country to a host country for higher education – will also benefit from understanding what happens during the five stages of transition. There are many books for foreign students studying abroad; however, none of them evaluates closely the psychosocial and emotional issues of being away from home in the way this one does when delving into the details of the transition cycle. When I have put on international orientations for colleges receiving foreign nationals, the session on the five stages of transition seems to be the one students most appreciate.
The other major audience for this book is parents. I highly encourage parents to read the entire book to know exactly what they can expect their student to be dealing with as an independent, young adult far away from home, perhaps for the first time. Chapter 11 addresses specific parental issues and concerns relevant to preparing and supporting your university-bound student.
Much of the phenomena I speak of in these pages will happen in whichever country you are repatriating to. As I am more familiar with life in North America, I present the information from that point of reference and add in, where I am able, information from other countries. I also invite students to transfer this information to reflect their particular experiences.
How to Use This Book
As with any book, the most logical manner to read this one is from the front cover to the back cover and that is my suggestion as the chapters follow a progression of thoughts. I would be daft to think the majority of you will follow my advice, so I have attempted to write this book for the cover-to-cover reader as well as the student who will pick it up only to find a quick answer to a problem or issue. If you sense some repetition between the chapters, be assured it was intentional.
As Chapter 11 is directed toward parents, students may opt out of reading it, but there is always something to be learned by understanding both perspectives. As I mentioned earlier, I also suggest parents read through the entire book so they can understand the issues specific to the TCK student.
Chapter 1 is a TCK fundamentals session for those who may just now be learning that there is a term for people who have lived the lifestyle they have lived. Even those well-versed in the TCK profile would benefit from the short review as it is fundamental for understanding what issues exist and why.
I truly believe that if every TCK understood four simple truths, they would have a much smoother transition. The first of these four ‘pearls,’ as I like to call them, is the transition cycle. Chapters 2 through 5 explain the transition experience as depicted by the five very predictable stages of Dave Pollock’s (co-author, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds) transition cycle. These chapters are relevant to anyone making a cross-cultural adjustment and would pertain to all families and students, TCKs or not. Each chapter includes what the international sojourner can expect to experience in that particular stage as well as practical advice for managing it.
The second ‘pearl’ worth understanding is unresolved grief. Grief that comes from living the international lifestyle of a TCK is described in Chapter 3. Students will gain an understanding of what happens when grief is not dealt with properly and what can be done to confront it and move through it.
Chapter 6 addresses the most popular topic of all international students – relationships. The chapter is filled with lots of ‘a-ha’ moments and advice, mostly contributions from other TCKs who have gone before. The third ‘pearl’ of wisdom – how global nomads relate differently from their home-country peers is fully explored in two arenas:
– why TCKs sometimes find disconnects with peers while trying to build relationships and
– a myth-buster of the supposed ‘superficiality’ of home-country peers TCKs so often complain about.
Chapter 7 introduces the latest tools and strategies available to international sojourners. The first is Dr. Barbara Schaetti’s TCK Identity Development model, the fourth ‘pearl’ global nomads need to comprehend to better understand themselves and their reactions as they reacculturate. This model explains “encounter” – when TCKs realize they are different from others which commonly occurs upon repatriation for university. Dr. Rachel Timmons’ Reacculturation rubric is introduced as a hands-on tool that will help you assess and chart your progress in repatriation adjustment.
Chapters 8 and 9 delve into practical issues of college/university life. Ignorance is not bliss. Students need to take charge of preparing for the shift in lifestyle. Parents need to plan how they will help their student deal with those changes. These chapters are not intended to give definitive advice on the issues presented, but are instead meant to guide students and parents to know which questions they should be asking and to give some ideas as to where they can look for answers and obtain the most current information.
In Chapter 10, guest author Sylvia Vreisendorp explains personality differences and how they play out on the university campus. Everyone needs to understand himself or herself before he or she can expect to get along with and appreciate others and their differences. This chapter gives you a head start.
As was mentioned earlier, Chapter 11 is specific to parental issues and concerns. The university transition can be just as difficult, if not more so, for parents. Useful advice and food for thought will help you plan out how to prepare and support your student from afar.
It is nearly impossible to cover every issue that will come up over the course of university study, but the purpose of this book is to get students and their parents underway and to help them navigate the transition with a steady rudder. I encourage students to take the book along with them to college/university and for parents to keep a copy on hand for quick reference and reassurance that all is normal – and, indeed, even expected – and will pass in time.
With this book in hand, stories of hopelessness and suicidal thinking like the one you will read in the introduction need not be repeated. This book empowers the student to be proactive in his or her adjustment process and paves the way for parents to appropriately support their offspring along their journey.