This past Friday evening, I had a chance to reflect on how we sometimes stand at a crossroad. We decide to just dive in deep and go for it (or not). Sometimes diving in deep requires very little thought, because it just feels right. At other times, we dive in deep after a well-thought through decision process. Sometimes we have to test the waters and dip our tippy toes in before jumping. Either way, we make decisions, our path takes a turn that shapes our lives, changes who we are, who comes across our path, and where we go from here.
One of those choices is what we do after we finish school, the time when we finally spread our wings and leave the nest. In my case, that meant going to the University of Vermont. On Friday, I had the opportunity to hear Tina Quick speak about her book The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition (incidentally, Tina spoke about her book at the ‘Crossroads Church’ in Ferney-Voltaire). How I wish her book had been around when I set off for the States almost twenty years ago!
There I was, eighteen years old, and thinking this move would be a piece of cake. After all, it was the first move that was my choice. After attending a few international schools, I wanted nothing more than to go the States for college. I spoke fluent English and had tons of American friends. Given my TCK background, I had learned to adapt easily to new situations. Surely I would have no problems fitting in and feeling at home, right? Wow, what an unanticipated culture/transition shock! I ended up coming home for Christmas vowing never ever to go back. Luckily, thanks to my parents’ and friends’ support, I did go back and ended up having an amazing experience.
Listening to Tina speak about the transition that TCKs go through that first year at university brought back all those ‘aha’ moments I also had when first reading Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds (by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken). Tina managed to translate the entire experience I had into a language I wish I would have known as a college student. It would have been such an eye-opener to know that the entire process I was going through, which Tina describes so accurately, was perfectly normal. Even though it all turned out to be fine, it would have helped me (and my parents) so much to have her book to refer to. How wonderful that this book is available to students (and their families) now!
The last time I found myself sitting in that same building in Ferney-Voltaire was three and half years ago, when I had the chance to listen to Ruth Van Reken speak about her work. If I had not gone to listen Ruth speak that evening, I don’t think I would have written B at Home. She inspired me, encouraged me to keep writing, and guided me towards Summertime Publishing. Needless to say, I feel so incredibly honored she wrote the foreword to B at Home. Although I am not a big believer of coincidences, how lucky for me that I had the opportunity to stand at that crossroad and make the choice to attend that evening. This past Friday, I felt like that once more.
If you are interested in reading more about third culture kids and university transition, these two books are an absolute must read! To order them, see my page on Books on Being an Expat.