You might think this headline is an oxymoron. You might even wonder: Are there any happy repatriates out there? And if yes, what is their secret?
Because maybe this is your story: once upon a time, you had the opportunity to work and/or live in a foreign country and you said yes. Maybe this was a dream come true, maybe this was you going along with your partner for whatever reasons.
After the initial bumps in the road (we have talked about culture shock a lot), you adjusted to living the life of an expat. Is it perfect? Probably not, but the adventure in itself makes up for a lot of challenges you encounter along the way. The longer you stay, the more you get used to this lifestyle until one day your visa runs out and you have to go back home.
If this is your first rodeo as an expat, you might think this is easy. You pack your bags full of excitement only to realize "what has happened to this place I called home?" (we also have talked about reverse culture shock).
Now there is a fork in your road: you can try your best to adjust back home or as many expats have done before you, you pack your bags again. Like they say: once an expat, always an expat.
You are now on your second expat adventure only this time you know what to do when your visa runs out: you start to look to move somewhere else right away to avoid those awkward and rather painful months back home.
And here is our second oxymoron: Being away from home feels more home.
There are many reasons why expats finally decide to move back home:
a better job opportunity
a family crisis
no new visa extension
better school education for children
The list goes on and if we look at the points we realize they are a logical response, the only option or pure desperation. And maybe this leads to being an unhappy repatriate because your heart was never in it?
But what if you would feel that it is time to move back home?
AND THEN IT HAPPENS ALL AT ONCE AND UNEXPECTEDLY.
YOU PACK YOUR BAGS AND FIND YOURSELF WALKING HOME.
- Shannon Alder -
There might come a moment when you feel in your heart that it is time to leave. You realize that you have enjoyed walking on different parts of this beautiful planet, but now you want to go back to the place where it all started and put down some roots. It just feels right. You might even be surprised by this sudden wish to go home.
And when you think about it: this process is similar to how you started your expat adventure. It took courage and a leap of faith to leave everything behind and while there may have been many points on your pros and cons list in the end it felt right.
You may think ´but it doesn't feel right. I rather stay`. You know what? That is okay too. Maybe it is not time for you to go home (yet).
Here is a challenge that you might face if you believe it is time to go home. Expats live among expats and most expats are happy with their lifestyle, so if you feel the urge to go back, it is rather common that expats around you will encourage you to stay. (which is probably also similar to when you started your journey and you told your friends and family back home that you want to live in another country that they listed all the reason why you should you should stay because they all stayed). And the truth is that the people around us have an impact on the decisions we make.
So if you want to be a happy repatriate you have to stand up for yourself and not listen to those voices who are telling you to stay longer. It is really not easy to not be influenced by how others live their lives and what people around us expect from us.
In the end you have to live your life and you have to figure out your way, but moving or staying for that matter is a big decision and if you are ever unsure what to do, I encourage you to talk to a professional coach who will support you in going your way. Coaching works because a coach has absolutely no personal interest in your decision and won't influence you which allows you to be open and honest with yourself.
COACHING because you need to figure out your way!
And having the contentment that you made the right decision that no one can take away from you is priceless!