Moving is hard on everybody but especially for teens, who are at the age when you are forming friendships and peer groups. You are learning how to fit in and socialize, so news that your family is planning a move might be devastating.
Some activities and actions can help you adjust to a move to a new home and school. The goal is to feel more in control and less nervous about what is happening.
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Not wanting to move is normal. Leaving behind everything that's familiar is frightening. Just remember that you're not alone and that what you're feeling is normal, too.
Here are some tips for coping emotionally with a move.
- Talk to your parents even if you are mad at them. They want to know what you are thinking. Ask them why you are moving and if you can choose your new school.
- Get involved. You'll feel more in control if you pack your room, go with your parents to find a new house or get a list of schools you can visit.
- Ask a lot of questions about the move and the schools.
- Make sure you have the social networks, phone numbers and email addresses of your friends. With the internet, you aren't saying goodbye forever.
- Have a going-away party with your friends.
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If moving from one home to another stateside is difficult, moving to another country adds a whole other dimension to your move, particularly when you're not familiar with its native or official language. In this case:
- Research the country you are moving to and focus on the reasons tourists visit there.
- If you have time before the move, sign up for a language class at school or in a local community center. At least buy a phrasebook to get you started and check out online language class possibilities.
- Start a blog to stay in touch with family and friends. Writing and posting about your new experience may help you see the interesting side of living in a foreign country.
- Find out if there is an English-speaking community or a teen forum you can participate in.
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If you move to a foreign country, lots of things will be new to you—the food, the customs and the way the teens dress. The same thing happens when you move from a big metropolitan city in the U.S. to a small town or vice versa, or from a fun-in-the-sun state to a northern clime where snow is all the rage. Culture shock is real and it can happen to you.
Some symptoms of culture shock are:
- Feeling lost or confused
- Trying too hard to adapt
- Idealizing your own culture
After your living space is set up and you are comfortable in your room, you should go out and meet people. Visit a coffee shop or bookstore. Go on tours, just like a tourist. Learn about where you live and the things that teens in your new location do. Take a class, attend a local church, try out for a sports team, or join a club.
Eventually, as you learn to appreciate the locale where you are living right now, you'll get to know people and they'll recognize you.