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Book review: A TCK’s guide to college

‘Nomad’s’ Guide’ is written for TCKs facing a double transition – adjusting to a new stage of life as an independent young adult, as well as adjusting to a new culture.


Adele Barlow

Adele Barlow is a Denizen writer. She is a Malaysian-Kiwi who has lived in Hong Kong, Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne, and now London. Co-founder of yMedia, Adele now works as a digital media contractor in London. You can read more about it on her blog or follow her on Twitter @adelebarlow.

The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition
By Tina Quick, with a foreword by Ruth van Reken

A dense handbook for students returning home or moving abroad for college, ‘Nomad’s’ Guide’ is written for TCKs facing a double transition -– adjusting to a new stage of life as an independent young adult while also adjusting to a new culture.

“Being in the Boston area, I was running into TCKs all the time and hearing the same sad stories over and over again,” author Tina Quick said. “Common phrases like: ‘I couldn’t connect with my peers…I ended up spending time alone because it was easier…I was incredibly depressed…’ That’s when I decided that I needed to write the book.”

Tina is a TCK herself — her family lived abroad for 15 years in Pakistan, Kenya, Switzerland and France. A cross-cultural trainer, writer and international speaker, she is on the Board of Directors of Families in Global Transition (FIGT).

‘Nomad’s Guide’ is comprehensive and thorough, and includes advice how to mourn the life left behind as well as practical tips on learning to do laundry before leaving home.

Saying a proper goodbye

“Grief results from loss – tangible and invisible losses. TCKs have so much mobility that they accumulate losses all the time,” Quick said. “If they do not or are not allowed to grieve over those losses, all the unresolved grief can emerge later in life as anger, depression, rebellion or more.”

The book encourages students to come out and say how they feel about the loss of their favorite house, best friend, status in the community and so on.

“If they are allowed to put a name on the loss they will be able to openly grieve for it. The more time they spend on the ‘funeral,’ the more likely they are to come to acceptance of the loss and move on to a better place,” Quick said.

She also thinks that creativity can be a potent healer – it might be a journal entry, a song, or a painting that helps the person connect with their feelings about the loss.

Lack of awareness in schools

The book states that “people who receive cross-cultural training and preparation shortly before or after international relocation have a smoother transition.”

Quick says that only a few international schools prepare their students with these talks and seminars – and even those schools who do have such programs find that students do not attend, especially if such sessions are optional.

“The students honestly feel that they do not need to be told how to go home. They believe it will not be a problem and they will just fit right in,” Quick said. “But home isn’t really home anymore. They are shocked and surprised when they realize they don’t know it as well as they thought they did.”

The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition is available on

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