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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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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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