Repatriating? Tips for readjusting to life back 'home'
Audrey Hill gives American expats tips on what to prepare yourself for when repatriation nears. From bracing yourself for car commuting to how to stay international in your homeland.
Wherever we live can be an adventure and a challenge, as long as we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Until the next adventure, here are some tips I learned when trying to readjust to life back home:
1. Realise that you will have to start over in some way. Like me, you might have to find a place to live, a car to drive and a job.
Ideally, start to rebuild your life before you move back home. E-mail your resume to potential employers and let them know when you’ll be available for an interview.
2. Life might feel like it went on without you. While you’ve been meeting new people and experiencing new things, so have your loved ones. Life hasn’t waited for you to return.
You may feel a bit left out when you hear about all that has changed, but realise that you have also changed and allow that to strengthen your relationships.
3. Consider that you might have to put some effort into rekindling your friendships and relationships at home. Chances are you’ve lost touch a bit with your old friends while you’ve been gone. It’s going to take some energy and time to catch up. They’ll want to hear about your other life and tell you about what’s been going on with them.
4. Accept that your friends and family will probably never be able to completely understand what your life was like abroad. The most common question I was asked was, “So how was Spain?” As if two years living in a foreign country can be summed up in a few sentences.
But don’t take it as disinterest; you can share your experiences over time with the important people in your life by showing them photos and telling stories about your time abroad.
5. In your job search find a way to inject your experiences living and working abroad into your resume and interview answers. Don’t think of your time away as time lost, even if it was in a different field; think of it as life experience gained that will add to your appeal as a potential employee.
Promote your experiences in interviews, and work them into qualities that will contribute to the job.
6. Be prepared to find yourself missing aspects of your former life. Like me, you might find yourself frustrated by the excess of your native culture and missing the simplicity of having fewer choices and less stress. You might feel depressed as you begin to lose some of the memories of life abroad and feel yourself disconnecting from that life.
Look at photos and stay connected with friends there, but also live in the present. Try to find happiness in daily activities. Look at this home like you did when you lived abroad -- you’ll find that there is probably beauty to be found here if you try to look at it with foreign eyes.
7. Expect the unexpected. Think of it as another adventure, just like the one you started when you moved abroad. And now that you know what to expect, you can always start a new adventure by living abroad again.
Audrey Hill is a writer and editor who has spent time living in Spain and traveling Europe. She moved to Spain to study abroad and experience living and working abroad and soon settled as a private English teacher before moving back to the US in late 2007. You can read her Expat Voices profile here.