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Book Review: The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

Updated 20 Apr 2011

College. For some, a long-awaited freedom from rules and regulation; for others, a dark cloud drifting on the horizon just before the downpour of responsibility and obligation; but for all, a time when seeming strange, weird, abnormal, misunderstood or standing out in a bad way is preferable only to death by medieval torture.

It's normal for graduated high-school students embarking on this rite of passage to feel intimidated, but those who've spent their time living outside of their passport culture have even higher hurdles to conquer than most, and may find themselves facing a far greater fear.

It is this group of highly mobile and cross-cultural individuals, known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs) or Global Nomads (GNs), that Tina Quick aptly extends a helping hand to in her book The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition.

Quick, an adult TCK with three university-aged TCK daughters, asserts that these students-to-be have had few resources available to prepare them to cross this all-important bridge from adolescence to adulthood, other than sheer resolve and whatever will power they could muster. They were left to grapple with the strangeness of a new cultural environment while also struggling to define themselves as individuals at one of the most volatile and vulnerable times in their lives.

As she indicates, at a much-needed point, her guide effortlessly fills this void. Brilliantly researched and strategically written to appeal to both TCK students and their parents, Quick provides us with the first authority source for global nomads going to college.

She begins the book by encouraging TCKs to reflect on their experiences and instances abroad, and to embrace the positive pieces they've taken from those points. She pushes students to look to unique talents, gifts and outstanding character traits that have come from cross-cultural interaction and travel - and she does so without sounding like a self-help guru, sugar-coating every sight and sound encountered.

Along the way she shares her own embarrassing stories and the lessons she learned, and interweaves inserts from other transitioning TCKs. In doing so, the sense of belonging that so many global nomads yearn for, but can't find in college, materialises and works to eliminate feelings of loneliness or depression.

She also delves into the process of the actual transition, using models, graphs, charts and cycles to explore the different stages clearly and succinctly. These are the crucial chapters that allow TCKs and GNs to anticipate, recognise and manage change as they go along. The highs and lows of the future instantly become easier to control and understand under the umbrella of expectation.

Quick speaks in simple, practical steps, reinforcing complicated or abstract concepts with application or a recommended direct action. Only a few pages pass at a time without a tip, a piece of easy advice, or a reassuring nudge forward - making it a perfect resource for attention-strapped students, or a quick reference for those in a hurry.

She wraps up the read with a glimpse into the real, universal issues of college life: relationships, sex, drugs and rock n roll, rape, eating healthily, and even exercise. She reminds us that after all, college is a cultural environment of its own; with distinct practices and principles that may be as foreign to the boy that's grown up five minutes away, as it is to the girl that has spent her life in an international schools overseas.

And yes, this book could certainly be reassuring to any rising university student, but it's essential for those sojourners of the world. Beyond a doubt, a recommended read for any third culture kid or global nomad returning to their passport country for school, and for the parents that put the pressure on them to succeed and be happy.

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