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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

So you’re finally coming home after your stint à l’étranger. If you’ve been gone for awhile, challenges await.

1. Be prepared for cognitive dissonance.

You’re excited to eat McDonald’s again, but you still miss noodles from the local food cart abroad. You’re happy to return to old friends, but you’re devastated to leave new ones. Your feelings will constantly contradict themselves over small and large matters. It can be overwhelming, but go with the flow and understand that this is a symptom of repatriating.

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2. It will take some time to establish yourself.

After getting over jet lag and unpacking, you may notice changes in your friend groups, family members, professional networks, and other social supports. Finding a job, a place to live, and a meaningful lifestyle can take longer than you expect. Don’t beat yourself up because this experience isn’t particular to you.

3. Reverse culture shock is real.

After having adjusted to a host country, you might find home country norms and traditions totally bizarre. You’ll need to endure the same process of observing and imitating standard cultural practices, as well as habits to adapt and avoid. It might feel strange to do this in a place you once knew, but it will help you re-assimilate faster.

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4.The loneliness can become intense.

You may be surrounded by people you have known for a long time, but they will not relate to your experience if they haven’t lived the expat life. It’s also likely that your circle grew accustomed to your absence and will have to do their own readjusting because you’ve been gone for so long.

5. You had a different life in another place, and no one will understand that.

You had a job, a routine, and probably another identity that people in your home country know nothing about. Sure, your friends and family may have kept in touch or visited when you were abroad. But, as you know, settling in a foreign land is completely different from absorbing it in a small short dose. Your loved ones may not understand the new you because they did not live your other life abroad.

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6. Your worldviews may have changed.

If you truly immersed yourself in the host country’s culture, you encountered different perspectives, attitudes, and people who influenced your own ways of thinking. Your new outlook could put you at odds with home country natives who see the world through a more limited lens.They may not even be able to comprehend that people come from different cultural paradigms. Accept that  you have changed while recognizing that your friends may need time to understand the new you and expand their own perspective.

7. Every interaction will seem different.

Budgeting, grocery shopping, and even taking public transport will become novel processes that you’ll be surprised you once knew so well. Fellow returned expats will be valuable companions as they re-navigate the same routines.

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8. It will become harder to maintain your host country lifestyle as time passes.

You will eventually find it easier to reintegrate into your old life, which will simultaneously make maintaining host country habits harder. You’ll have fewer opportunities to speak the host country language, eat certain international products, and travel to foreign lands. That doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain aspects of your expat lifestyle, but they will stop seeming natural to you when you spend more time at home.

9. You will have to make your own adventures.

Your life abroad will inevitably seem more interesting than anything you’re currently doing. You need to find novelty in your day to day life and seek intrigue in the banal. Plan road trips, visit new cities, meet people from different places, and take on new challenges. This requires effort, but you can have an exciting life no matter where you live.

10. It will be OK.

Repatriation takes time. You will be a stronger person for having endured this process…until your next trip abroad!

Featured photo credit: Stokpic via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on November 17, 2019

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

20 Creative Ways To Say Thank You

Saying, “Thank you,” can be difficult to do. Some things just demand a little something extra because of the magnitude of the favor or the depth of appreciation involved. But what can you do to say thank you in a meaningful way? Sometimes you have to get a little more creative than just firing off an email. Here are 20 creative ways to say thank you that your friends and family will remember and cherish!

1. Make a gift bag.

A unique, homemade gift bag with a custom label or a note is a simple but heartfelt way to show your appreciation for the wonderful things your friends or family have done for you.

2. Give a toast.

Many people fear public speaking more than death, giving this particular thank-you a little extra meaning. Composing a sincere, eloquent toast and delivering it is a nice way to show appreciation that truly comes from the heart.

3. Write a poem.

“Roses are red, violets are blue…” Uh, you could write that...but why not put a little extra zing in it? Find out what their favorite kind of poetry is: haiku, free verse, iambic pentameter, and so on. (Google them if you don’t know what they are.) Then write one that expresses why they deserve your thanks…and why you’re glad to give it!

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4. Create your own labels.

There are a number of websites that offer custom gift labels. Find one that fits your personality and that of your friends and create a personalized thank-you label!

5. Give a gift card.

Sometimes choosing what to give a friend can be tough. A gift card is a good way to get around this problem. As always, be sure to include a personalized note or card thanking the recipient for their friendship and help.

6. Send a letter.

Snail-mail is a largely lost art form. Don’t worry about how long the letter is, though. What really matters here is that you took the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings sincerely and honestly!

7. Use social media to send a special message.

If someone’s done something you think the whole world should know about, why not put out a social media blast? Use your blog, your Facebook, your Google+ account, and your Twitter to spread the word about why this person’s someone your friends will want to know too!

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8. Make your own digital greeting card.

While an email isn’t always the best way to go when saying thank you, a digital greeting card that you put time and effort into creating can really brighten someone’s day! Make the card reflect the recipient’s personality and compose a short message of thanks for their generosity.

9. Make a YouTube video.

Sometimes, actually hearing someone say, “Thank you,” can make all the difference. Why not take it a step further and create a special video of thanks for your friends, family, and those special people who helped make your day so important…or who helped you through that rough time?

10. Deliver cookies or candies.

Making something yourself is a fun and delightful way to say thank you to someone. Create a sampling of baked goods or homemade candies and decorate them with a simple message, or make them so they form letters! (Think Valentine’s candies, only situationally appropriate.) Attach a thank-you note or label and surprise those special people with the gift of your time and creativity.

11. Make surprise gifts for guests.

There’s no need to wait until “later” to send a thank-you message. Why not do it at the time? Create little gift packets or bags for your guests with surprises inside. This is a great way to say thanks to the people who attended your event, and make sure they won’t want to miss the next one!

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12. Put together a flower basket.

Whether you prefer fresh or artificial flowers, assembling a flower basket with a thank-you note is an excellent way to brighten someone’s day and show you appreciate them.

13. Take a picture.

Sometimes capturing the moment is the best way to put a smile on someone’s face. Have someone take a picture of you receiving that special gift or opening that surprise package and send the giver a copy with a quick but sincere note to say thanks!

14. Repay their generosity by paying it forward.

The best gifts come from the heart, and the best way to repay a gift is to pay it forward. If your friend has a special cause they care about or something they believe in passionately, why not make a donation in their name or volunteer some of your time to the cause? This will mean more than any number of cookies, candies, or thank-you notes because you’re taking your friend’s love and spreading it around to others.

15. Do something special for them.

Take them out to dinner. (See “make a toast.”) Give them that movie they’ve been wanting forever. Cook them dinner and give them a present when they arrive. Any of these are good options for showing someone you really appreciate them and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

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16. Reciprocate their help.

Everyone needs help sometime. Whether it’s holding their hand through a particularly traumatic incident or helping them replace the alternator in their car, being there when they need it shows you remember what they did for you and how much it meant. It also shows that you’re willing to be just as good a friend to them as they were to you!

17. Be there for them.

Not every thank-you gesture has to be a grand public spectacle. Sometimes just giving them a place to come hang out when they’re lonely or showing up to offer them a sympathetic shoulder means the world to a person.

18. Listen to them.

Listening is almost as lost an art as the handwritten letter. When your friend or family member needs to talk, listen to them. Ask questions when appropriate, but just letting them know you’re there and paying attention to them to the exclusion of all else for a little while is a great way to say thank you for the times they listened to you.

19. Say it in another language…or two…

A simple thank you is great…but why not spice it up a little? Instead of just saying, “Thank you,” write or make a video of you telling them thank you in different languages. Some examples might be, “Gracias! Merci! Danke schoen! Spasibo! Mahalo!” and any other ways or languages you can think of. (The ones listed above are Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Hawaiian, in case you were wondering.) If you want to really get tricky about it, say a short phrase in each language that conveys why you’re thanking them!

20. Show them some love.

A simple touch, a hug, or helping out when they need it without being asked may be the most powerful gratitude message you can send. Offer to take the dogs for a walk, sit for the kids for a few hours, or run to the grocery store so they don’t have to. The little things are often the most important and meaningful. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still send a note, but sometimes your simple presence and willingness to help is all that really matters.

Featured photo credit: Hanny Naibaho via unsplash.com

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