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Returning home after a period overseas can be just as stressful as moving to a foreign country. However the final adjustment in the overseas relocation process does not have to be a negative experience-if it is well planned. While expatriates expect some challenges when they go on international assignment, most repatriates do not expect any reverse culture shock. This can therefore feel more distressing as not everyone sees it coming. Most people underestimate the potential challenges of re-adjusting to life back home. They assume returning home will take them to a familiar lifestyle and environment.
Some challenges may include:
- Change of life style – Standard of living as an expatriate is often at a higher level than at home.
- Limited interest from family and friends - 'Out of sight out of mind'
People often find that once moving home, the lack of interest from their original network is very disappointing. So bearing in mind that friends and family have been used to getting on without you whilst away, you need to rebuild those relationships and remind them of your presence.
- Unrealistic expectations - People often make false assumptions about how easily they will be able to fit back into life at home. They expect things to be the same as when they left and are surprised and disappointed when they discover things have changed while they've been away. Suddenly the home culture may seem simple or unsophisticated after experiencing a wider multicultural world.
It is important for repatriates to set realistic goals and reflect on personal changes and new priorities. Coaching will assist repatriates in having a smoother re-integration into local culture. With the right preparation the repatriate will feel like 'there's no place like home'.
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us"