Attention Expats: How to Face the Return to Your Country of Origin?

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    Shortly after repatriation, many people experience repatriation blues, also known as “reverse culture shock.” The term describes a feeling of sadness and emptiness that people can experience after returning to their country of origin. Despite the fact that everything is familiar at home, there is a strong feeling of displacement and of not belonging. As one client said: “Coming home after so many years abroad made me realize that I am not the same person anymore. I have changed, but nothing more.”

    Often the hardest thing for returnees is that they feel that no one at home understands them: “Sometimes people even get upset when I say I miss living abroad. It’s like they feel offended because I reject the life they’ve lived for so long.”Some people also feel they can’t share their thoughts with anyone: “They don’t even want to hear about my time abroad, what I did there, or who I met.”

    Difficulty to relate to the expat experience

    Often those who have stayed at home find it difficult to relate to the expat experience. They may not understand why coming home is so difficult because they have never been away for longer. They may also misinterpret the difficulties of repatriation as complaints. Others may want to listen but don’t know how to help. Bottom line: Having mixed feelings about moving back home is a normal part of adjusting.

    The problem of coming home

    Why is it so hard to come home? How can it be so difficult to return to the place you know so well, to the people you are so familiar with? That is precisely the problem: familiarity.

    Most of us move abroad because we seek the exciting, the ambiguous, and the unknown. We want to meet strangers, try new dishes, and learn a new language. Novelty makes us feel alive.Returning home, the sense of newness wears off and, while comfortable, being familiar with everything and everyone soon becomes boring.

    The country of origin is often idealized when living abroad because it seems that everything is “easy” there. Many expats visit their home country once a year to meet up with family and friends. This usually happens during the summer months as well. The short time spent at home conveys the wrong impression, and this is what people have in mind when they return home.

    7 strategies against the sadness of repatriation

    There are several things expats can do to soften the blow of repatriation:

    1. Prepare for repatriation

    As soon as you know that you are going to return home, you can start organizing everything possible, that is, looking for accommodation, childcare, social security issues, as well as leisure activities.

    2. Connect with family and friends

    Most expats keep in touch with family and friends back home, but before repatriating it may be helpful to increase communication. Just checking on everyone at home a little more often can make the transition easier because you’re already up to date on personal happenings and events.

    3. Establish a routine

    In transition, we often lack routine. So one thing we can do early in the process is think about what a healthy routine might look like. You might even remember your first few months as an expatriate: What helped you settle in at that time? maybe he signed upto a gym to make sure he was getting physical exercise. Or maybe you signed up for a regular social event, like Quiz night.

    4. Talk to other returnees

    Remember that there are other people just like you. Talking to other returnees can help you understand how you feel, because they have been through it too. Even if there are none in your immediate environment, there are online communities that will allow you to connect with other returnees.

    5. Manage expectations

    Prepare for the sadness of repatriation to hit you once the initial excitement of returning has worn off. Being mentally prepared to miss abroad can help you be a little kinder to yourself, for example by telling yourself that this feeling is a normal part of coming home.

    6. Plan your time abroad

    Just because you`re back home doesn’t mean you can’t leave again. It can be fun to think of a new destination for a vacation or a short weekend trip. This way, you can have as much of the familiarity of home without having to miss out on the excitement of travel.

    7. Consider getting professional help

    In some cases, repatriation can be a great emotional challenge. Sometimes even the slightest smell or taste can trigger a memory of your expatriation country and strong emotions of longing, sadness and loss. If you feel that these emotions are significantly affecting your daily life and preventing you from doing things you normally would, you may want to consider seeing a therapist for professional support.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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