A Smooth Beginning

To say that this booklet is less practical than its cousin, Hit the Ground Running, is unfair. Then again, maybe life is unfair.

Philosophy aside, this booklet is more oriented toward the, well, softer side of arriving in America from somewhere else. The emphasis is more on culture shock, with tips such as making sure your family eats well and sleeps enough, and less emphasis on how to use the drive through at McDonald's.

That said, the advice is worthwhile. For example, the booklet suggests coming to some family decisions on calling home: should the family make short but frequent calls to Grandma in Tunisia, or hold off for longer but less frequent chats? Some advice is offered on seeking the right balance between eating familiar foods and doing familiar things and learning to enjoy new stuff. For families coming from countries with their own rich culture, but with kids who don't pay attention to that culture, the author suggests getting the kiddies into something before moving that can form a touchpoint with “old home” while in “new home.”

Indeed, unlike the booklet reviewed above, which is 100% aimed at a new life in the U.S., this booklet is more for anyone moving to a new and unfamiliar country, including an American family setting sail for a new job in Brazil.

My wife especially liked the advice in this booklet for the non-employed-outside-the-house partner on how to meet people. The text suggests asking for advice from other parents (“Where's the closest swimming pool?”), or cooking up something from home and offering it to your new neighbors as a treat. The advice on timing your move vis-ÃÆ' -vis the American school calendar (July gives you plenty of time to get ready but neighborhood kids might be tied up with sports teams or away at camp, versus late August when most kiddies are back home) is also pretty helpful.

“A Smooth Beginning: 20 Suggestions to Help Your Family Feel Settled in the U.S.”, written by Anne P. Copeland, is available by mail order from The Interchange Institute for $3.95, with discounts for bulk purchases.

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