Last time, I told you I was signing up for a cooking class. My neighbor went with me for, as you know, filling out forms in a foreign language for anything is daunting! But after much confusion and help from the powers that be – and because I am a foreigner – I got signed up! I may not be great in the language, but I know how to cook, so we will see how it goes.
For me, sending my child off to college is the most challenging aspect of my living-abroad experience.
Since the school year has started, I am reminded of our kids and the whole process of their education. Some of us are homeschooling (I still am!). Some of you have sent your children off to college for the first time this year. Some of you are doing it for the second, third, or fourth time! For me, sending my child off to college is the most challenging aspect of my living-abroad experience.
We can tackle this discussion from many directions. For now, we will start with how you can prepare your child for returning to your home country (you see that I didn’t say HIS home country, because he may not feel that way at all). Maybe it will help you to prepare for next year – or three years from now – when you send off your firstborn.
As my children grew up and I thought about their reentry to the States, I knew I had to help them in any way I could. The year before their departure, we incorporated an extracurricular class called, “Returning to America.” All of my children participated because each one had their turn coming. And I made it as light-hearted as possible. No need to add to the already over-the-top stress of returning to a foreign culture. Each week had a different focus. Here is my one semester course outline:
Girls and Boys
Strategy for Understanding New and Strange
Getting a Job
Filling out Forms
What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
With each of these subjects, your child knows the answers in your present culture. But he may not know them in the USA. We role-played a lot! We laughed a lot because I tried to make the point by over-making the point. And we had many interesting discussions. You would be amazed at how ready your young person is to talk about these subjects.
I gave many personal illustrations of what happened to ME in some circumstance. Ask any of my children. “Mom tells the same story to all of us.” (Especially the story about the time I sat next to an MK boy who hunkered over the table, shoveling food into his mouth and chewing very noisily.) But my story has a point, and each child needs to learn that lesson.
Next week I will take each of these “class subjects” and just give a one-sentence illustration of how you can do your own “Return to America” class.