How to Return Home After Working Abroad
Working abroad can be a great opportunity to advance your career, meet new people, experience new cultures and see the world. It can help you become more open-minded, tolerant and knowledgeable. But it can also be a bit scary. You are leaving a well-known world of familiar faces and foods and traditions and heading into an unknown one. That’s why it might be a little surprising to learn that returning home after your expat experience can be equaling unnerving. In the time that you have been away, people and places and things will have undoubtedly changed. What was once familiar might not be anymore. Too often, expats return home unprepared for what they find. No matter how excited you may be to come “home,” most workers returning home from abroad encounter challenges. Here’s a few tips to better prepare yourself for repatriation:
Nothing stays the same. You. Your friends. Buildings. Activities. Technology. You learn new skills. People get married, have babies, change careers or move. Some die. Neighborhoods reinvent themselves. Favorite stores close. New ones open. You expect different things when you prepare to move to another country, but many forget to expect different things when they return home. Remind yourself that change is inevitable in any situation and that time will eventually help you grow accustomed to it.
Continue to Network
Whether you moved abroad for a limited assignment, with your company promising to bring you home after its completion, or you snagged an international job on your own, you need to continue to stay abreast of job opportunities in your home country. Many companies will promise you a job to which you can return when your expat assignment is over, but too often your wants and their needs will not coincide once the time to return home actually comes. Make sure you maintain viable contacts with colleagues in your field (especially your home country), so that you can connect with them if/when you need to find a new position.
After Working Abroad, Make a Plan For Your Return
You probably had someone helping you find housing, open a bank account, register for schooling (if you had kids needing it) and a lot of other things when you left your home country. You had to plan the logistics of moving your belongings, meeting foreign friends and finding new interests and activities to keep you occupied on weeknights and weekends. You should do the same as you contemplate going back home. Pretend you’re an H1B immigration attorney or a counselor or other relocation advisor of some sort who helps people move and live abroad and plan specifically for your integration into your new “old” home!
Don’t expect things to fall magically into place. You will need to plan for unexpected challenges and look for opportunities because (back to our first point) things change!