By Cha Jones, Expat Women of Color
Repatriation is the process of returning home after living abroad. You may be excited that you are going back, but your return may not be so simple.
It can be tricky repatriating into your country of origin. On one hand, you are overwhelmed with joy that you are being reunited with your friends and family, but on the other hand, you are making a transition from a foreign life that you grew accustomed to. As one may experience culture shock leaving home and moving to a foreign country, one may also experience what is referred to as “reverse culture shock” when returning home. Reverse culture shock occurs much like culture shock. As the nostalgia of being home finally wears off, it is easy to begin feeling frustrated, anxious, depressed, or even angry.
You would think that being home, because it is your place of origin, would be comfortable and a much easier adjustment. However, returning home can be just as difficult as it was leaving and in some cases much more difficult. Like any transition, you have a period where you must get acclimated to your new environment. You must remember that you have changed while you were out in the world globe trotting, and many of your friends and family have probably changed as well. While you were changing in one area of life, your friends and family were changing in other areas and sometimes this can cause separation perspective. That is when the separation has given you two different perspectives on the same or similar things. It does not mean either party is incorrect, it just means there are differences in perspective. This often happens when you have expanded your views of the world and you come home and find that everyone else is in a vacuum of sorts.
Repatriation begins the minute you leave your host country, but the process of actually reintegrating back into your life at home takes time. So, as you adjust to your new environment here are some things to take into consideration.
Q Do not come back with a chip on your shoulder. You might have experienced the world, but don’t be arrogant about it.
Q Listen! Yes, you have great experiences to talk about, but the people at home have grown in their own way and they often want to talk about their life changes as well.
Q Do not come home and compare everything to where you just came from. Once you stepped off the plane, train, boat, or bus you entered an entirely different place and you cannot live your life from your past. “It’s not Kansas anymore.”
Q Begin incorporating things from your life abroad into your life at home. Just like you had to get settled when you first arrived in your new life abroad, you must do the same again, so practice fusion.