Tina Quick: The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition

Tina Quick is a cross-cultural trainer and international speaker. Founder of International Family Transitions, she specializes in helping students who have been living outside their passport countries successfully manage their transition to university, whether they are returning to their home country or going on to another host country. Tina also works with individuals, families, schools, agencies, and organizations that support TCKs and international students through providing seminars and consulting services.

Accordingly, Tina has written an excellent book, published in the spring of 2010, called The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition. I highly recommend her book, as it is full of thoughtful anecdotes and sound practical advice, a fun and informative read. I recently had the honor of asking Tina a few questions about her work and her experience writing, and you can find her interview here after the break:

Josh Sandoz: Would you mind sharing a little about how you came to be so passionate and thoughtful about the TCK experience?

Tina Quick: Sure! A good friend who is a psychologist that works with transitioning missionary families first indicated that I might want to pay attention to my family’s upcoming repatriation since it is sometimes more difficult going back home than going abroad. She reinforced what I had heard years earlier about TCKs through the tutorial she gave me. That’s when I read Pollock and Van Reken’s Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds for the first time. Once we were back in Boston I began running into many TCKs I had known from our family’s overseas postings who were attending the various colleges and universities in the area. I was hearing the same familiar, but sad themes over and over again from these bright, talented and gifted students – feelings of not fitting in, not connecting with their peers, feeling like a fish out of water, alienation, isolation and sometimes severe depression.

JS: You’ve recently written a book, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition, published summer of 2010. Great book! What convinced you that this book needed to be written?

TQ: In talking with one TCK college student after another, I was woken up to the fact that these kids really are very different from their home country peers. They often don’t realize they are different until they step out that third culture where they enjoyed a sense of belonging with others of shared experience. They don’t realize it is their life experiences that make them different from most of the people they are surrounded by on their college campuses. Once they understand this they are then able to embrace their differences and use them in positive ways in their lives, on their campuses and in their futures.

JS: What was the writing process was like for you?

TQ: I did a lot of research, reading and talking to the experts before starting my business and taking transition/re-entry seminars into international schools. Sadly, the seminars were not as well-attended as I and the school administrators had hoped. Many students truly felt they did not need to be told how to go “home.” So I decided to put my seminar into a book that parents or others could place in their students’ hands as they were leaving for college. It would serve as a useful handbook for their transition whether they read it in full or only turned to when in dire straits. Since I already had the seminar in full swing, the first draft went rather quickly.

JS: Who do you hope reads this book and what do you hope they come away with after reading?

TQ: There are several categories of people that would benefit by reading this book.

–       My hope is that students who have been living outside their passport country and are returning for college or even high school will read it. While it goes into a lot of the practicalities of college life, the psycho-social/emotional issues are relevant to both high school-aged and college-aged students.

– Students who have been living outside their passport country but are transitioning on to another host country for college will have the same experiences because of the fact that they have stepped out of that third culture and will be surrounded mostly by those with whom there is no shared experience.

–       Even students who are moving to a new culture for the university experience will find this useful as they will go through the same stages of transition as TCKs and the book will help them understand that the stages are predictable and normal.

–       There is a chapter that has been written specifically for the parents to help them  prepare and support their global nomads in the university transition.

–       And lastly, my hope is that institutions that either send or receive these students on either side of their transition will read it to understand what their challenges are and how they can help students either leave or enter well, whichever the case may be.

JS: Outside of writing, in what other ways are you involved in the lives of TCKs and the internationally mobile?

TQ: I spend a lot of my time trying to spread awareness of the TCK experience amongst institutions of higher education, international schools, agencies that send families abroad and mental health counselors by giving talks and workshops as well as presenting at conferences. Another sphere of my work involves serving as a resource consultant for relocation companies that give cross-cultural training to families that are either expatriating or repatriating. I am often called in to talk about international parenting and third culture kids. And lastly, I am serving, along with you, Josh, on the advisory committee of TCKid, a non-profit community of over 21,000 members dedicated to help Third Culture Kids connect and find a sense of belonging.

JS: Thanks Tina! It’s an honor to know and work with you. I wish all the best to you and International Family Transitions as you continue working to serve the global TCK community.