As an expat, it’s unlikely that you’d consider moving abroad without doing your research. The beginning of an expat journey can often feel daunting, so doing some reading on what life will be like abroad, how hot or cold the weather will be or even looking up key phrases will always be useful.
However, it’s not just a case of preparing for the start of an expat journey. There’s also plenty of value in thinking about how you’ll approach the end of your expat life as well, and the prospect of repatriation can bring a lot of things to consider. If you’re heading home, it’s worth being ready for the prospect that things may not be as familiar as you remembered – here are our top tips for getting ready to go and making things easier once you’re back:
Lesson 1 – The same, but different
Although it may feel as though repatriation is a return to the familiar, it is worth preparing for the once familiar to feel somewhat peculiar. We all understand that the bustling cities we left behind did not cease to exist in our absence. However; you may be startled by how much has changed as you send an invite for a reunion brunch at your favourite restaurant, only to have your friends and well-wishers inform you that the bistro relocated shortly after you’d left.
Be ready to accept the idea that things might not be exactly as you left them – embracing change and trying to maintain a positive attitude will help you to get to grips with returning home, even if it’s not exactly what you’d expected.
Lesson 2 – Read, read and read some more
When returning home, the preparation you need to do might not be as extensive when you first went abroad but it does help to keep up with conversations about your local area. Ways of doing this are numerous, but mostly it helps to focus on doing your reading; whether that’s through news, participating in discussions on social media groups, setting up alerts to keep you posted on events at home, or keeping in touch with a network of friends and family – you’ll need to have an idea of what to expect when you arrive. These are some unique and meaningful ways to catch up on pop culture, legislative changes and maintain connections with loved ones, because as we mentioned in the previous point, life has, to some extent, gone on without you. By doing this the return home will feel much more comfortable, as you can return knowing that you’re a clued up local once more.
Creative Commons – Wolfgang Lonien
Lesson 3 – Homesickness
For many touching down at the airport it is likely they’ll receive a hero’s welcome; family, friends and well-wishers may wait with baited breath at the arrivals lounge as they look forward to welcoming you home. But after this newly acquired celebrity status fades away, and you process the excitement that follows the reunion, you can expect a mixture of emotions – there’ll be highs, but you might also find that there are lows, for example homesickness for the life that you built for yourself and your family abroad.
Expats may experience a rollercoaster of emotions after leaving a country they truly immersed into. Although emotions can sometimes feel a bit mixed after a return home, it’s worth keeping sight of the fact that even if it’s difficult – you’ll overcome these difficulties in the same way that you did at the start of your journey. Settling back in, reconnecting with friends, progressing a career or helping your family to grow and develop; these priorities will usually stay the same wherever you are in the world.
Above all else, it’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes more than one country can become ‘home’ – and settling back into life in one country doesn’t mean you need to sever connections with other places that you’ve lived. Keeping track of your expat memories, as well as thinking about how you can keep these alive for you and your children is one way to make sure that you keep close to your experiences – however your expat journey ends!
Creative Commons -Darriel Street Photography