Whether for study, for work, for love or just a calling to see the world, you’ve experienced a different culture and called another country home. You have grown and changed, and may be all the stronger for it, however, as your expat adventure coming to an end, it can be challenging when you move home.
You may be glad to be home and still wish you were there as well - that’s okay - it can be a transitional period when you cease being an expat. Here are some tips to thrive when you return home from living overseas:
You are the same person, irrelevant of your location
You’re a different person after travel, you have learnt, grown and changed. Many people fear that they won’t fit in when they return home from living abroad, some fear that they will and they may lose the person they have become. Don’t forget, it doesn’t matter your location, you can continue to be the person you have become – your location is irrelevant!
Things at home have been changing as well
Life back home may not have moved at quite the same pace as you have since moving abroad, but things will be different. Bear this in mind and be ready to find a slightly altered home to the one you left. Be open to any surprises that weren’t posted all over social media.
Reverse culture shock
Reverse culture shock can be hard for returning expats. It can take time to adjust to your new surroundings, no matter how long you spent there previously. Take your time, think back to when you first arrived abroad – it may feel like you don’t belong, but this will return as you integrate more with home.
If you have been away for some time it can be natural to be nostalgic when returning home from living abroad.
Take a timeout and pace yourself
Take some time out to adjust to your new life. It can be emotional saying all those goodbyes and then all the hellos as you leave your life abroad for the home you once knew. There may be parties – both leaving and welcoming. Embrace them, they are a good opportunity to integrate with friends and family, but remember to take some time for yourself. Deal with everything at your own pace, this will help you adjust and will keep the bank balance in check!
When you’re ready, throw yourself into it
One of the best ways to get back into life at home is to throw yourself into it. Try to spend time with your friends, and get to know the new friends they have met while you were away. Find new groups, maybe even ones for expats who have returned home, it can be very helpful to share with others that have had similar experiences.
Nostalgia can be fun, but make new memories
Depending on how long you have been away, it can be natural for nostalgia to creep in, especially when spend time with old friends or visit old haunts. Make it fun! Take trips down memory lane, but make new memories and meet new people.
Explore your old home, be a tourist again
If you feel like it, be a tourist! Explore the area again, it can be easy to slip back into your previous routine, but isn’t that the one you left behind… this could be an opportunity to bring your experiences from abroad into your life back home.
Do your research
I won’t delve too deeply into the technical aspects of repatriating as it is outside the scope of this article, but it’s important to do your research and understand your rights. Look into your entitlement to healthcare and medical services, and investigate your tax situation - these can be different for returning expats.