Friday, November 14, 2014

Welcome Back - Now that You're Here

This is part 2 of my series welcoming TCKs back into the country (see part 1). Again, any TCKs having experienced reintegration, feel free to chip in.

So, a couple days ago, I wrote about what to expect when you, as a TCK, are returning to the USA. Today, I want to finish this series off with some things to do that will help smooth the reintegration process.

Now that You're Here:

Do: Find other TCKs in your area. (My university had a connect group for MKs, which was awesome). Yes, many Americans will not understand you completely, but many TCKs will.

Do: Make American friends.

Don't: Avoid all Americans because of some first appearance, accidental slight, or preconceived notion.

Do: Find local internationals. My freshman year, I would hang out at the indoor soccer fields just to hang out with other Africans and to hear African accents.

Do: Introduce your new American friends to the food and culture of your home/s

Don't: Look down on American culture (or the "lack thereof"). Instead, take time to discover things about your new home that you can celebrate and engage with.

Don't: Force the entire city to listen to music from home. While you might love it, others might not.

Do: Make mistakes (and learn from them). For example, one tailgate, a bunch of the guys from my hall were laughing at another for something he had done, so I chipped in and called him a "vark" (pig, in Afrikaans), but, not understanding me, the guys thought I said "f***" and almost flipped out.

Do: Take time to keep in touch with friends back home. This, I didn't do and I wish I had done more of.

Do: Set aside time to Skype home. You may not think you'll need it, but I can guarantee your parents will.

Don't: Play the foreigner card. It's cute and fun for the first couple weeks, but continually shoving it in people's faces will just turn them [potential friends] away.

Do: Find ways to practice any languages you learned while overseas

Do: Find ways to remember home. (For me, I keep plenty of rooibos tea on hand and I listen to township jazz or afrikaanse treffers when I miss home)

Do: Take time to freak out when you see something from home in a store. (I've done it. No shame)

Do: Find a local church

Do: Find a nice lady/gentleman and fall in love (American or international - it doesn't matter)

Do: Learn American timeliness

Do: Forget about American timeliness (It's soul-sucking, so I don't mind slipping on occasion)

Don't: Be chronically late

Don't: Claim permanent jet lag

Do: Settle down (It doesn't matter where, but take time to make a Home. It's important and, for possibly the first time in your life you'll feel like you're finally at home, which is an amazing, yet foreign concept*)

Lastly,

Do: Have fun. This is a big time in your life in which you can totally be yourself and find yourself.

*I remember when I told my now fiancee that, with her, I felt at home. It was one of the truest expressions of love I have ever experienced or uttered.