When we moved from junior college into university, we did not have a graduation ceremony. I vaguely remember lining up in the school hall, according to our tutorial groups to collect our 'A' level results. Some of us cried with relief (or sadness) upon opening up that crucial piece of paper. And that was that.
Here, I see my #1 son hanging out, almost desperately, with his pals, daily, trying to spend as much time as possible with them before they all leave for college or university in different parts of the world. For some, they will return to Beijing during the Christmas break, where their parents still work, and get a chance to reconnect with friends again. For others, they will probably never see them again as they head for their home countries, unlikely to return to China again in the near future.
It's tough, this transition process. They not only have to deal with a new phase of their lives, but also with the separation, oftentimes permanent, from their good friends.
I suppose, it will be made easier with Facebook & Twitter & Skype & MSN & whatever Internet social networking tools are available out there.
Still, I feel for them, these third culture kids. It is bittersweet, this life they have, rich with worldly experiences but also poignantly difficult with frequent separations.