How to Smooth Transitions

I used to think that moving here to Germany would mark the end of my transition process. I was wrong in my belief as our international environment constantly keeps changing. Being an expat family requires continuous adjustment to new circumstances and after a few years we just got so used to it without realizing how often we still adjust.

The beginning of each new school year reminds us of the changes we need to make for another smooth transition. There will be newly hired teachers, some of whom I will never get to meet (except by e-mail). New classmates for my children, some of whom I might get to know by name at the end of the school year – just before they move away again. Private students change their lesson times as they start other projects. Friends move overseas, with some of our older ones already having left for retirement. Every year, there are Goodbye parties and Welcome Back parties.

Toytown Germany (with a very helpful platform I can recommend) probably has more newcomers posting their queries at this time of year, but transitions take place all year long. I have come to realize that we can stay put in one place, but our surroundings keep moving, affecting us with their sometimes challenging transitions.

Here is a little piece of advice I had given a while ago to a newcomer to the Frankfurt area (most likely applicable to non-working spouses):

If you have some financial security (e.g. no real pressure to find work right away), then I would suggest volunteering at first. This is what I did three times when moving overseas. I started volunteering two hours a week, made contacts, learned more about the city, got job offers soon after.
Places to volunteer: Frankfurt soup kitchen, hospitals, maybe the British Women’s Club of the Taunus, contact the “International Stammtisch at the English Theatre”, etc.
Teaching assistants do not get paid well. For part-time work at the international schools, the pay is about € 400 a month. Again, any job could help lead to more lucrative ones.
I frequently post available positions at Frankfurt International School on my blog category Vacancies at Frankfurt International School which also include teaching assistant positions. This is for you only to learn what is out there.
… and try to learn some German before coming here. Others have said that before and this is the best advice.

You may also want to read my initial post, with more details:  How to Smooth Transitions

Third-Culture Kids (TCKs)

Yesterday evening I attended a lecture on Third-Culture Kids (TCKs) and Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs) given by Ruth E. Van Reken at Frankfurt International School in Oberursel, Germany.

On the left - the author, Ruth E. Van Reken.

On the left - the author, Ruth E. Van Reken.

Ms Van Reken is a second generation adult TCK and mother of 3TCKs. She speaks nationally and internationally on issues related to global family living and is also co- founder of Families in Global Transition. In addition to other writing, Ruth is co-author of Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds.

Her lecture was most fascinating. I had attended it for the benefit of my own two CCK children (one being borderline TCK: born in Japan), but came out learning also more about myself.

We live in an international bubble community and most of my contacts are with other foreigners. I have spent a significant part of my developmental stage in life outside my passport country.

Ms. Van Reken pointed out in the beginning, that much of what we will hear, we already know, but after this lecture we will be able to use our knowledge more sensibly. How true her words were! I walked away realizing I have a visible role (as a German) and an invisible one (being an adult CCK myself), and I just have to find my cultural balance.

Much more can be learned from her book, co-authored by the late David C. Pollock.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, Revised Edition Amazon U.S.A.

Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds Amazon U.K.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds Amazon Germany

Back in 2003, I had had the opportunity to also listen to David C. Pollock’s lecture when he came to Frankfurt International School to talk about about Thriving Through Transition.

Being or raising CCKs and/or TCKs is a very interesting topic – the internationally mobile child is on the move. As time goes on, there will be more of us. One of Facebook’s TCK groups lists more than 20.000 members. I’d better go and check it out – I am sure to find somebody I know.

To learn more about Ruth E. Van Reken, visit crossculturalkid.

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