Returning to the US is frequently considered the most difficult transition of all. While it's our country of passport (sometimes one of many), it's not always our 'home'. Indeed, some FS youth have never lived in the US and it might feel like a foreign country. For others, the US might be home but the DC area might be unfamiliar to them. What's differentiates DC from overseas posts?
- the schools are usually really large, especially compared to international schools
- FS youth and other expats are spread across a wide area rather than being concentrated together in a cohesive community
- many students have grown up in this area and have tight-knit groups of friends so it can be hard to break into some social groups.
- the DC area is very competitive
- students may feel less independent here
- while you might speak English, you might not speak the language of local teens.
- So many choices! Sometimes having to make decisions (which club, which sport, which class?) can be fatiguing and overwhelming.
But there are many reasons that being in the US can be a great experience:
- there are myriad activities and opportunities. Most schools have a very long list of clubs and if they don't you have what you're interested in, it's usually fairly easy to start your own.
- while the schools might be really large, that can mean that there are lots of different social groups to choose from. While it might take some time, you have a good chance of finding friends. But be patient with yourself - sometimes forming friendships can take time.
There are sure to be other positives and negatives to add to the above lists (let us know! we'll add your ideas to the lists), but know that the emotional highs and lows that come with returning to the US are normal.
Adjusting & Assimilating
The trick to adjusting quickly is:
- Go easy on yourself. Don't expect yourself to adjust overnight.
- Get involved! Find activities and classes that you enjoy and allow the friendships to follow. If you don't find the options at your school to be appealing, look at what's on offer on your local Parks and Recreation website, at your church, in neighboring towns... You might need to make an extra effort, but it'll be worth it.
- Stay in touch with your old friends. Stay connected to your old friends. They can be a great source of support as you adjust to your new surroundings.
- Get involved with FSYF! We're here to help you with the transition. Network with fellow FS youth who have experienced what you're going through. We get it!