When you leave your country, your memory will be fixed at that moment and will remain unchanged forever. In your new destiny, you will always miss that city where you lived, family, friends, food and many of the things that were part of your life, even idealize that memory.
But what will happen when you decide to return? It is a question that we ask the ones that we have already been outside. There always comes a time when you want to return to your home country. Feel the need to be in the place where they were born, where they belong and to immerse themselves in the comfort of the familiar.
To return home to stay after an expatriate season is to feel full, is to believe that there is nothing impossible, fill the lungs with air, relaxed, without difficulty to breathe. It is joy, energy, a constant rush of adrenaline and butterflies in the stomach. They are hugs of emotion, continuous celebrations of welcome and a hunger to eat everything that you missed. Usually, the longer the time has been and the distance, the greater will be these sensations.
Just as the greater the blow of reality that surprises a returning expatriate. Experts call it Inverse Cultural Shock. “I think there’s really no way to describe this feeling to those who have not lived it. It is like a free fall, like floating aimlessly in calm waters. You feel out of place”, explains Corey Heller in his article Returning Home After Living Abroad, published in Multilingual Living.
It begins when you realize that life has followed while you were not there. It was obvious, of course. However, it did not affect you until now. You did not live the change of customs and routines, the closure of places that you liked to visit before or the appearance of words like marriage, mortgage or baby in the vocabulary of your friends. And you, who were apparently at home, where everything was going to be easy, you find that, when the initial euphoria disappears, you have to begin the process of readaptation to a life, which you believed the old one, but which turns out to be even more new than the one you just left behind.
And the same thing: the greater the time and distance, the greater the task of reconstruction and the risk of never feeling at home. “If you stay a long time in your host country, you can never go home. You become a permanent foreigner, never local enough and never satisfied at home” explains the article Home sweet home? Managing the Inverse Cultural Shock, published in Forbes magazine.
So, there you are, trying to understand how it is possible that the feeling that everything is still the same lives with the reality that everything has changed, including you. “Living in another country changes you forever. You’ll never be the same and you’ll never see things the same way” Heller says.
Many times, your family and friends will expect you to behave as you always did. In this sense, the University Studies Abroad Consortium, University of Nevada, recommends “trying to adjust to life in the place of origin without losing the ideas and values that formed you while you were away, and resist the temptation to return to your Ancient self to meet the expectations of others”.
Meanwhile bewilderment, site search and more depressions than you expected, one day you find yourself thinking nostalgically in that host city that you wanted so much to leave before, missing out on what was your house in recent times, but you never came to feel like it, in the same way that now you do not feel this place. In short, starting with the syndrome of the eternal traveler, those who once left and now do not know how to return, of those who do not know where they belong and where they can consider their home.
Heller reflects on the feeling of being away from home at all times and tries to remedy it. “I no longer ask myself the question of whether I will ever again have the full feeling of a home. Now I wonder how I can feel at home in the place where I am at the moment, with these experiences, finding, in this way, in every moment how to return home”.
So with the help of various opinions, today I wanted to gather some things that happen when you return home after a period abroad. Has something similar happened to you? What do you think I’m missing?
1.You are more independent
You have had to stand for yourself for a long time and now you do not need anyone to continue with the plans you feel like doing. You learn to value also the moments of solitude, silence and tranquility and do not hesitate to make plans alone without needing anyone to accompany you.
- Although you are happy to return home, you miss living in that country: with its pros and cons.
The truth is that the stage you've spent abroad marks you. And just because of that, you miss life there and everything that made your day to day special.
- Do not stop comparing between the two countries: it is impossible not to do so.
You compare everything from cultural issues, supermarket prices, beers, the cost of going out for dinner, going to the movies ... but quiet, it's a stage! It will disappear little by little...
- The vision of things changes you.
You have lived a very intense stage, known people who have joined you and learned a lot and you have realized what things are important. You learn to live in another way, enjoying and feeling without you caring for appearances or the rest.
- You realize that the relationship with your friends and family begins to be different.
No matter how short your stay abroad, the changes and what makes you grow the experience are noticeable from minute one. When you become less important to some things and more to others, you value more support and happy moments and you flee much more from the bad rolls. In many moments you do not understand behaviors of the people that you have around and you disorientate. But the problem is not them, it’s you, you've changed.
- You realize that many friends you met outside will continue to be part of your life.
And it is that they become friends that you know will be for life. They lived many moments together and that is not easily forgotten! With many of them you will stay in touch and the friendship will become stronger, since they have lived the same experience as you and they have many things in common.
- You have an identity crisis that even you do not understand: Who am I?
What am I doing with my life? These are questions that everyone comes up with after a period of so many changes. In time you will solve the unknowns and you will realize that you return with more strength than when you left.
- You focus much more on yourself: you care how you feel and what you want in your life.
Because, after all, who will do that for you? It is not that you are selfish, you have learned to be happy, to know yourself and to balance things that you consider important. There will be many people who do not understand this change, just lead what makes you happy.
- You have to begin to recalculate your life from scratch.
One stage is over and a new one of uncertainties and changes arrives. Take it easy in order to avoid being overwhelmed and you will see how little by little your life gets back on track. And you have to stay with the experience and savor the new opportunities that appear on the way home. Take time, enjoy your family and your loved ones and with your support little by little you will feel at home again.