Almost home now and trying to follow my advice from previous pre-emptive posts. What I am most anxious about now is how I will received by friends who have also been shaped by life, who may have forgotten about me or may not wish to reconnect. This is followed by commencing work at a new workplace and the typical ‘have I got what it takes to do this?’ thinking and thirdly managing the culture shock that has already started to jolt me as I move about doing ordinary tasks such as driving, grocery shopping and so on.
My coping strategies for transitioning to a new normal:
Expect and except change within yourself. You have had new experiences which have shaped your world view and transformed your beliefs and values. These may be challenged upon your return ‘home’.
Be prepared for isolation or feelings of lonliness. Family and friends have become used to your absence and may not give a thought to calling around for a cuppa or inviting you to a social gathering. Nthing personal, they’ve just become used to you not being around.
Be prepared for apathy. You know the look of eyes glazing over when you have visited family and friends at home and you launch into sharing an anecdote from your new home? Well expect that upon your return; basically noone cares after 5 minutes.
Establish routine. Exercise and work will assist with this to an extent and can help with your transition in addition to supporting mental health.
Keep in touch with other repat friends still overseas or at home. Friends who have repatriated already can be a real support as they understand the process of grieving the life you have just left behind, culture shock and stressors of settling into life at home. These guys have a shared history with you and will happily indulge in moments of nostalgia.
Seek professional help. Many government employees have access to psychologists who can assist with preparing for repatriation, settling into life at home, relationship counselling and so on. Use these services should you need them.
Prepare for reverse culture shock. Just like when you moved to post as an expat, you will experience the highs and lows as I discussed in my post ‘The Stages of Cultural Adjustment’. Many of us are familiar with the term ‘culture shock’ however the stages are the honeymoon phase, negotiation phase (known as culture shock), adjustment phase and mastery phase. Reverse culture shock can be pretty intense for repats as it’s impact is unexpected – you’re moving home after all, should be an easy transition. This emotional rollercoaster is one heck of a ride and may last more than 6 months, as you will remember!
Be kind to yourself. Be patient and at times administer a bit of tough love when required. You know you’re resilient as you’ve managed this process before. Allow time to settle back into your new normal.
What other effective coping strategies do you use?