Much has been written about, discussed and documented concerning moving abroad, but the return home has received relatively little attention, especially for students returning "home" for college or university. These teens and young adults have the double whammy of not only having to adjust to an entirely new and different lifestyle, but also to a whole new culture as well, for their passport culture will be foreign to them in many respects.

Up until now, very few books on readjustment were available and nothing existed for students returning for tertiary study. Training seminars on the subject are still very much the exception rather than the rule. This is surprising given the fact that the majority of returning students find 'reverse culture shock' as the readjustment has been called, to be more difficult than adjusting to overseas life ever was. In fact, evidence shows it is three times more difficult. Click here to read about the March 2010 release of "The Global Nomad's Guide to the University Transition", Summertime Publishing.

Why is it such a problem? Most students will tell you they expected things to be difficult when they left for their overseas posting. They were prepared to have to get familiar with a new environment, culture, and perhaps language and climate. They expected everything to be different and were not surprised to find themselves confused and disoriented. But upon returning home, these very same people were not prepared for the changes that occurred while they were away.

They have returned to unfamiliar routines, places and people. Nothing is the same as they left it. Part of the reason for this is that the returning students themselves have been changed by their international experiences. Their world view and mind set are different. Whether home itself actually changed at all while they were away or not, it appears to have changed because their perspective is different.

These students find themselves responding to their home country much the same way that a visiting foreigner would because they are now an alien in their own country. In fact, experts refer to returning expatriates as "hidden immigrants". They look and sound as though they belong in their particular countries, but they act ignorant and uninformed about simple commonalities of everyday life. The trends, whether they be social, fashion, commercial, media or linguistic have changed and they have been like Rip Van Winkle –asleep for 100 years – or at least it feels that way!

Leave Well to Enter Well

Successful repatriation begins before the actual move. The process of leaving must be taken very seriously and planned out well in advance of the actual departure. RAFT building (Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells and Thinking Destination) is essential for ensuring a good reentry.

A period of grief is to be expected. Moving brings losses. Losses bring grief. If the grief is acknowledged and dealt with in a constructive manner, we are able to move forward.

Re-entry Seminars/Workshops

IFT has programs designed to help students prepare for the move, pave the way for a smooth transition and follow up to ensure they are adjusting well. The most common complaint amongst repatriated TCKs is the feeling of being different from their home-country peers and the inability to "fit in". IFT's re-entry workshops help these global nomads understand the differences and gives them tools and strategies for dealing positively with those differences.

Third Culture Kids Re-entry Seminars

Re-entry seminars specific to the issues of Third Culture Kids as well as seminars preparing TCK's going to college in their passport country are IFT's passion. TCK's have been called "a tribe of their own". Their life experiences have been dramatically different from the average mono-culture kid and they need to understand why they feel so 'foreign' amongst their peers. Understanding the strengths they have gained from their international experience and how to avoid misunderstandings in their 'home' culture can ease the transition with fewer surprises.

Click here to download the brochure.

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