Returning to your passport country. Easier said than done. Harder because you do not expect it to be difficult. Harder because no one else expects it to be difficult. How could it be? It is your country, you are supposed to know everything. You do not receive the understanding and offers of help that you hopefully get when you move to another country; you are just supposed to fit in. I hear tons of stories about people coming home and the alienation they feel. Families, parents, adults, children, teens. And the surprise of it all. Re-entry is usually harder and takes longer than going away in the first place. Things are new but yet not. Things might be different but it is just not exciting. Not exotic at all – after all it is just home. You are not exotic; no longer having the status of an expatriate. And no one really wants to know. I meet people who still after 20 years of re-entry are frustrated by the fact that no one has ever been interested to learn about their time in another culture. So I ask, and listen. And I learn. Society should too. How do we take care of all our global minds that return? How do we make them stay?Imagine the experience wasted from a societal perspective when people do not settle but re-enter the path of constant transition.
What about returning with kids? Think of what “home” is for your children. Lots of parents speak of home, yet their children have almost never lived in their passport countries. To children home is here and now. Think of a teen that has lived his or her life entirely outside the country of the parents´ origin. How is that “coming home”? Imagine trying to fit in. It is hard enough to be a teenager. There is a lot to read and explore on TCKs (third culture kids) on the internet and in the on-line bookstores. It is a great gift to have seen the world but it is also valuable to be aware of the effects hereof, on your child.
Coming home also means start missing things. Things you´d never thought you´d miss. Yep, it´s true! But remember that it is always the good things that stuck. Try once in a while to think about what you did not appreciate – I am sure it was not all that perfect. Nostalgia makes it harder to settle. Go back for a visit after a while, and you will be reminded of details you had forgotten. Things that make you go “oh yeah, glad we escaped that one!”.
Coming/going back home should be properly addressed. Raising the awarness of the potential issues connected to repatriation is key. Just being aware of them makes it easier for you!