Remember When – – – A shout out to my expat friends who just sent a teen off to University
For many young American adults returning to the USA to attend college or university after being expats or global nomads since they have been following their parent’s careers overseas, “Sophomore Slump” starts after about six weeks in the new university. This is when it dawns on them that their lifestyle of travel is now over. No more vacations in foreign countries on long weekends. No more traveling to and from exotic places at Christmas. No more team sports that cause you to carry a passport.
Some global nomads find the start of college so hard but can usually settle down into the new system soon. After the orientations, the parent weekends and the new student events, campus life can get stressful. This is when it is key to have some support system on campus. Or near by. Teens are often good at masking what is going on for them by text or even skype. They seldom want to admit to their parents that things are not going as well as they wanted.
Sophomore slump hits repatriated teens often, and they show how upsetting this is by changing institutions.
If you look closely at the retention rate in a university from a freshman to a sophomore at some schools, it is alarming. What is causing all these teens to try one university for just a year and move on? Most of the time it is not because of grades but because they are finding a ‘slump’ or the excitement of the university does not match up to their expectations.
As the author of Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, I am greatly concerned about these children as they return to the USA to attend university in their home country. I often feel we have not prepared the child enough for this transition without their family.
Two children = Two Locations
Since our two children decided to look at two very different locations for college, it has complicated our travel plans. Colorado is a state that receives many teens repatriating because it is such a lovely state. Toronto is also known for its high rate of international students. Many expat children do not have a ‘home’, so they pick a geography site that they love. Then the match of a university to this location to the child’s long term goals is applied. This is hard for many families.
We are slowly approaching our second year in this location, Balikpapan. In our short time here, we have already seen a tremendous amount of turnover in the Expat population. The things that have bothered me the most during this expatriate move without children are:
- My relaxed lifestyle of booking four tickets to one place is no longer possible. We now have to book three different travel plans to get to a single location.
- I no longer want to go on long weekends out of the country since I am saving up my days to be with my kids.
- My kids have done the exotic places for Christmas and now wish to do something more relaxing and mainstream.
- My passport does not get used as much as it did since I am not traveling to see my kids in all those high school events that international schools are so good at setting up.
You might say I am in a sophomore slump.