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58

JUNE 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT

Hannah Morris, a member

of household in NewDelhi,

worked in the United States

and abroad in univer-

sity teaching, counseling and

admissions prior to earning a doctorate in

higher education administration. Presently

a member of the writing faculty at Ashoka

University in NewDelhi, she also provides

college transition consulting services to third

culture students preparing to attend college in

North America and Europe, and is active in

the intercultural education field.

W

hile many high

school seniors

spend the sum-

mer before college

reminiscing with

childhood friends

and working summer jobs, Foreign Service

children are more likely saying final good-

byes at post, visiting relatives on home

leave, and choosing what to ship in their

special UAB (unaccompanied baggage

allotment).

Repatriating students often feel isolated

and lack the support system or knowl-

edge to access resources that will help

them in their time of need. Few institu-

tions offer TCK-focused programming to

ease the complexities of repatriating in

order to attend college.

Students and their families can bridge

the gap between what a TCK needs to

be successful and inadequate university

programming by connecting with their

school’s international center; building

support systems; scheduling realistic

academic schedules; identifying involve-

ment opportunities; and developing

plans for handling finances, communica-

tion and emergencies.

Settling into Your

New Environment

Connect with the international

center.

International centers are the first

resource that returning global nomads

should reach out to when transitioning to

college in the United States. Ideally, this

connection is made before college appli-

For Foreign Service third culture kids

(TCKs), preparing for college requires

more than just attending orientation and

buying matching dorm gear. The reality is

that while many TCKs are seeking to con-

nect with dormmates and other students

in the United States, their backgrounds

may make it more challenging than they

anticipate.

Navigating U.S. academic culture,

relating to U.S. pop culture—and even

answering the seemingly simple ques-

tion, “Where are you from?”—means

TCKs are dealing with the challenges of

repatriation and reverse culture shock

while trying to find their place and

succeed in their freshman year. From

feelings of uncertainty, to searching for

a sense of belonging, TCKs often find it

challenging to formmeaningful friend-

ships with the “American” kids they may

have known from visits home or life

before the Foreign Service.

Few colleges are aware of TCKs or

have programming to support them as

they transition back to the United States.

New College, New Culture

Preparing for a Strong First

Semester as a Third Culture Kid

TCKs deal with repatriation issues and reverse culture shock when they attend

college in the United States. Here are some tips for success.

BY HANNAH MORR I S