No one tells expats that there’s actually a second culture shock when living abroad: the shock of returning home. Re-acclimating comes with challenges, and it’s normal to feel bored, left out, or misunderstood. We can’t promise it will be an easy transition, but these tips will help you adjust.
1. Don’t apologize.
Give yourself time. You may not want to see everyone immediately after returning home, and that’s ok. Be kind to yourself, stay positive, and remember that adjusting to change is never easy.
2. Write about it.
Craving gelato from your favorite place? Detail that dessert. Learned a new language? Practice it. Document both your life abroad and at home, and process your experiences and emotions.
3. Understand that things have changed.
It’s easy to idealize life back home as it used to be, but life goes on. It’s important to keep this in mind to help you maintain perspective. Your sister may have gotten married, but you can still celebrate.
4. Develop a schedule.
Found your calling with tango? Keep at it. Developed a love for Muay Thai? Find a class in your area. Establishing a routine like you made while abroad can help ground you while you’re busy re-acclimating.
5. Stay in touch with friends from abroad.
You and your friends may be spread across the world, but that doesn’t mean you should lose touch. There are plenty of apps for connecting. Better yet, write a letter. (Believe it not, people still appreciate getting these relics from the past.)
6. Plan your trip back.
It’s never too soon to start planning a return visit. Better yet, coordinate with your friends so you can all meet up and relive your experiences. Organizing your trip will help you maintain a connection to your past while planning for your future. Nowadays, it’s easy to plan group itineraries and split travel costs from afar using apps.
7. Create new experiences.
You conquered a new life in a foreign place. Remember that feeling once you’ve returned home. Lose yourself in a new neighborhood. Stalk Instagram hashtags to see what’s new in your area. Take that sky-diving lesson you’ve been meaning to take.
8. Be present.
While you’re busy adjusting, live in the present. Dwelling on the past will prevent you from acclimating to your new-old life.