Moving back home after living abroad - or ‘re-entry’ as it’s called - can be a particularly daunting task, depending on how long you spent away, how much you feel you’ve changed, how often you’ve done it, and your age! Moving can be stressful at the best of times, but moving abroad is a particularly big move, as there are so many things going on, and on so many different levels! Perhaps you were studying abroad, working, or just enjoying yourself overseas, and now you need to return ‘home’ and re-enter your former society. Below are some tips that will help you make the necessary adjustments to moving back home after living abroad.
For some people, moving back home after living abroad will mean lots of planning ahead! Mentally prepare yourself for change, and expect that not only your feelings about home have changed but that other people, places, activities and lifestyles will have changed too. Failing to plan is usually why people experience difficulties. Take some time to really plan where you’d like to live when you return to your former society, plan your finances and bank accounts, plan for a new cell phone carrier. Maybe plan to move back when the weather is decent, or when you’re sure to have a good support system available.
If you are able to meet similar-minded people that enjoy traveling or have also spent time abroad, it will surely speed up your transition time. Sometimes, friends and family aren’t interested in hearing about your experiences, or you receive a lukewarm reception when you return home! Whatever it is, seek out an international group so that you can meet people that have an international outlook and have spent time abroad too. Undoubtedly wherever you are, you won't be alone and you'll be bound to meet like-minded people to help you in your transition back home.
Know that there is in fact a reverse culture-shock going on. You may find yourself going through one or all of these stages: One, the honeymoon stage (where everything’s fun, exciting and rosy); two, the negotiation stage (where you’re constantly comparing and finding fault in your former home); three, the adjustment stage (where you begin to get more accustomed to your home), and four, the mastery stage (where you feel success for having overcome your fears and anxieties and start feeling more settled). Understand that these four stages are perfectly normal, so be gentle with yourself for what you are feeling throughout all or just one of these stages.
Another great way to help you through the transition time is to write a journal of your feelings and thoughts. Remember how you felt when you first moved away and then how you’re feeling now! If writing your feelings and thoughts is not for you, keep track of them via a scrapbook, photobook or collage instead. It will help you in the long run, as it will be something tangible to look at when you’re feeling lonely and homesick, and it will help you realize just how far you’ve come in the months to come.
With our ability to e-mail, text, chat and Skype, you can keep in contact with those you formed close ties and bonds with whilst you were abroad. You could even make future plans to visit them again or organize a trip back to your ‘foreign home,’ to keep those memories alive and soothe any feelings of dislocation.
If you are looking to obtain work when you move back home, find something that correlates to the cultural experience you just came from. For example, if you lived in Australia, try seeking employment with an Australian firm, or make it a point to get hired with a company that hires lots of Aussies. That way, you’ll be able to relate well to most of your colleagues and you can share your recent experiences much more readily.
By getting involved in a community group, class or finding something related to one of your interests can help you when readjusting to life back home – it will reduce some of the stress and anxiety affiliated with moving too! Perhaps you love yoga, tennis, or you practiced a martial art in your foreign home; try searching for it in your new community. If a group or class doesn’t exist, start one up. You'll be amazed just how many people are interested in the same activity as you.
With time (and realize it can take years), you’ll be able to adjust to your new life in your 'former society' and you will know you’ve mastered the art of living many lives! Have you ever lived abroad and returned home? Do you have any tips you can share from your experiences abroad and how you coped acclimatizing back home?
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