Culture Shock Stage 1: Vacation

You just arrived. Everything is exciting, maybe even exotic and interesting. You cannot wait to tell family and friends back home about all the fun you are having and spend a lot of time writing postcards and making excited calls. You and your family make plans for trips, shopping tours, sign up for language lessons and generally hit the ground panting.

This is all and all a good thing. Your kids will pick up on your enthusiasm and maybe even help in making plans and anticipating some of the new things. With our kids, we always encouraged them in learning about the new place and in making plans on where to go and what to do.

We do, however, work with them to make sure those plans include plans for school, daily life and other non-vacation things. It can be easy for kids to hide their anxiety behind a wall of anticipation for that first trip to Tokyo Disneyland, only to have it whack them good once the outing is over. Don't let the excitement interfere with the very real fact that living abroad means doing the day- to-day stuff of homework and household chores, even if weekends will take you to places a lot more fun than K-Mart.

At an early stage in your planning, you should start to think about how, after you get there wherever there turns out to be, you'll help the kids with their own adjustment. Needless to say, this can get tricky, in that you yourself will at the same time be making your own adjustments.

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