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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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