Monday, 26 September 2011

Identifying and relating to new 'norms'

Have you ever taken those email surveys where they ask you a bunch of questions, one of which is usually “what is your favorite smell?” How do you answer that question? Why do you think you answer it that way? Studies have shown that we associate things we like with positive experiences, and the opposite is arguably the case as well. I always answer that question with “freshly cut grass”, because it reminds me of my childhood. I also answer that question with “the smell of the air right before or after it rains” for the same reason. These are smells that I can distinctly pick out, regardless of where I am in the world (except for Singapore, where the significant humidity [almost 100% every day!] made it utterly impossible for me to tell when it was about to rain!), and they help to inform me about what is going on around me.
As an Expat Teen, you are constantly exposed to smells, scenery, people, and other “things” that remind you of certain experiences that you have had. Regardless of your “Expat History”, there are phrases that you may hear in one part of the world that you may not ever hear in any other part of the world. Or, if you hear those same words put together that way in another part of the world, the “new audience” may not understand the meaning behind what you’ve said. The same goes for certain gestures, which can be offensive in one culture, yet perfectly acceptable in other cultures. But you know all of this. What you may not know is that, the same “script” that you may know how to adjust from one culture to another when it comes to phrases and gestures is the same one that may “fail you” when it comes to figuring out how to handle a problem. In one culture, you may know that it is “okay” to go to a school counselor to get some assistance, while in another culture, you may not realize that your “new peers” do not see it as “cool” or “acceptable” to talk to a school counselor about anything that is not related to academics. The same goes for how to handle yourself in public in a place that has armed soldiers on every corner when you’ve moved from a place where you rarely, if ever, saw anyone in that type of authority role. So, what do you do when the “script” is “flipped”? Who do you talk to? What resources do you have? As we’ve previously mentioned, there are a growing number of websites, blogs, and other resources online that can help you be part of the Expat community. However, we are also planning to add to that list. Our book, Expat Teens Talk, is written BY Expat Teens FOR Expat Teens. It addresses some of the issues that we’ve brought up in these blog entries, and provides advice, support, and solutions for you by your Expat Teen peers, as well as Expat Parents and Expat Professionals. Stay tuned to this blog for more information about Expat Teens Talk. In the meantime, TALK to us and let us know what’s on your mind…

No comments:

Post a Comment