You’ve thought about it for months. Your friends and family have the balloons and banners at the ready. Your bags are finally stacked in the hallway ready for your big return. No matter how prepared you are there is often one aspect that many don’t consider. Will I ‘fit in’ in the place I once called home?
The curious case of reverse culture shock
‘Fitting in’ seems like an odd consideration but it’s the struggle you rarely hear about from expats returning to their home sod. Emotions are overwhelmingly positive at first. The first few weeks consist of reunions and appreciating your mother’s cooking. However, when the dust has settled your social life will be different. Hopes of reliving the good old days with the gang may be dashed as you realise that everyone has moved on.
Rebuilding your support network
Irish people are welcomed worldwide with warm embraces and people often go above and beyond to make us feel at home. It can take time to adjust to leaving this support system behind.
Touch base with friends, former colleagues and family before you return. Staying in touch or re-connecting will help keep you on top of major events in their lives and that of the community. This will help you feel like less of a ‘blow in’ upon return.
Setting up a new social network will take patience, time and energy. Do all the things you did when you moved abroad originally. Volunteer, join sports clubs or sign up for courses. Meetup.com for example has many communities such as the Ireland move club that are devoted to help with the repatriation process by providing an outlet for sharing travelling stories and organising weekend breaks.
Maintain your sense of self
When returning home you can go through somewhat of a life crisis. You look at those you used to be on par with and compare your life stage to theirs. This only leads to anxiety and frustration, especially if you returned home without a job lined up and are living at home.
After the ‘welcome home balloons’ have well and truly popped, don’t let your ambition and positive outlook deflate too. You have changed for the better. Accept this change. Your old life will look different but don’t let the negatives overwhelm you and undermine the experience of coming home. Don’t let others tempt you to give up this newfound character. Reverse culture shock is a transition and an important learning experience.
Give yourself time to adjust to the new experience of being home. Unpack, hand out the gifts, catch up on all the news and once your head is less congested you can start planning your career.
Re-adjustment takes time. You can feel detached at first but once your new routines become normal to you, you will soon be at ease.
Focus on enjoying the reasons why you came home in the first place. Walk your dog, eat some Taytos and spend time with the people you missed so much over a cup of Barry’s or Lyons. Whichever tea you chose we promise we won’t hold it against you.