Whether you’ve been on an overseas assignment or lived abroad for personal reasons, returning home can take some adjustment for both you and your family, especially during times like these.
Returning home after living abroad
When you return home, you’ll probably be excited to see your friends. Things may not be the same, though, as when you left. Friends may no longer share the same interests or may have found new friends. Your favorite stores may have been replaced. Things are just different. These are things that you can prepare for. What you likely haven’t prepared for — and what can sometimes be even more challenging — is the cultural adjustment of moving home.
Use these nine tips to help you and your family make the adjustment, before and after:
- Share the date of your return as soon as you can with your family and friends.
- Prepare your family members for the move. Talk to your children about the positive changes they’ll experience and how they’ll be able to reconnect with their old friends and family.
- Take time to say goodbye to local friends and colleagues that you’re leaving. Take photos, collect addresses and make plans to stay in touch with close friends.
- Make housing and school arrangements in your home country.
- Make necessary arrangements for return shipping of household goods, transportation of pets and removal of goods from storage.
- Reconnect with friends and family. Socialize with others and create new life routines.
- Be flexible, patient and maintain a positive attitude – all very important to help you ease back into your daily activities.
- Use your expat experience to connect with people with similar experiences. Share advice with colleagues going abroad or coming back home.
- Take on a blended cultural style. Cultivate a new cultural style which represents a hybrid of the two styles — something that is a bit different from the way you originally behaved back home before going abroad, but not quite as different as you were when fully adapted to the new culture.
- Create segmented cultural styles. Develop multiple and distinct cultural selves — the one you had back home and a new style consistent with what you learned when you lived and worked abroad.
You don’t necessarily have to decide on your approach immediately, but over time, it might benefit you to see the different options you have for addressing the change you’ve experienced and parlaying it into a new cultural and behavioral repertoire for yourself.
Also work internally on finding a way to appreciate, honor, and make sense of the new “you.” You have most likely changed. It’s critical to own and accept that fact.
No one said repatriation is easy, but with the tips we suggest — along with a positive, proactive mindset — you’ll be well positioned to reap the benefits of a life and career changing experience.