The Ins and Outs of Repatriation

September 3rd, 2014 by Jason Hartman | Comments Off on The Ins and Outs of Repatriation

The expatriate experience is a great one for many people, and can last as little or as long as one desires. For many, the process of moving back to a home country can be a difficult one. After a life of exciting travel, new culture, and the thrill of successfully overcoming challenges,repatriation can bring a host of feelings.

To provide a little bit of clarity, we’ll define repatriation. This term refers to the process of returning an individual to the place they’re from or the country in which they hold citizenship. Repatriation can refer to the act of returning members of the military and refugees to their country after a way. The term is also used to describe the process of converting currency from another place into native currency, though we’re referring specifically to the former. When a person is forced to return to their country (where they’re being persecuted) is called refoulement, and is a much more complicated for of repatriation.

Following repatriation, most people feel happy about seeing family, friends, and colleagues again, as well as places familiar to them.  But there’s also a sense of dissatisfaction, and many former expatriates transition out of old jobs because they’re no longer satisfied with their position.

The process of assimilating can be as challenging–if not more challenging–than leaving the country in the first place. If you’re facing a similar situation or know someone who might be, we’ve got a few tips and tricks to help make the process a little smoother. While it might not be the easiest process, it is definitely one you can get through with a little bit of help.

Stay in touch

When you’re living abroad, you’ll benefit greatly from staying in touch with friends and family–but also coworkers. If you are working for a company in your home country while you’re living elsewhere, it will be important to remain relevant–do not be forgotten! Communication by email, conference call, and video chat to ensure that you’re still a part of the environment.

When you return, you will feel much more in the loop. This remains true even if you aren’t working for the same company–you’ll need a job when you return, and networking can make a big difference.

Do some planning

Chances are, you know the approximate date you plan to return to your home country a few months before the big move. Take this opportunity to do a little bit of planning. Try and secure a job before you go back, and find out all you can about your contract, your responsibilities, etc.

Initiate these discussions as soon as you can and follow up on them. Offer solutions when problems arise, and make yourself a valuable part of your company before you even arrive.

Be reasonable

Working in another country is certainly a great thing when you begin your job search again in your home country. It looks great on a resume–but that does not mean that you’re going to immediately be promoted.

Make sure that you’re maintaining your own expectations, and allow yourself the opportunity to transition back into life in your home country. The expat experience is a valuable one, but it comes with its own set of struggles. Don’t be frustrated when you find that senior positions are not even available–be patient.

Prepare yourself for your new(old) culture

The experience of returning to a place you once called home is a whole different feeling from landing in a brand new country. Reverse culture shock can be very difficult to deal with and can cause you feel like you’re not quite at home in any country.

When you arrive in a new country, there are new people and new opportunities. You may feel like you’re looking at the same world you left when you return to your home country. It’s going to feel strange–probably restrictive compared to your expatriate life. You may feel a lack of success, which can make you feel depressed.

Because so much has changed in your life, you’re going to expect it to be true of your friends, your company, your country. Disappointingly, this may not be the case. Your company may be simply maintaining the same business practices they had before and it may feel like you’re regressing. Remind yourself that these feelings are normal, though often untrue. It can take a while to notice change, so don’t rush yourself. Focus on identifying things you love about your workplace and make them happen again!

If you can, begin following the culture of your home country well before you make your entrance. Watch or listen to local news, read newspaper articles, and even follow television shows. These things make a country feel more like home, so a level of familiarity with them will benefit you. Get a Netflix account–at the very least, it will give you some common ground with friends, family, and coworkers.

Power in numbers

We’ve always said that there is power in numbers, and it’s again true. By finding others who share your experience, you’ll feel less alone in them. You might feel like others don’t value your experience, but those who have been there will make it clear that they do.

There are a variety of resources available to returning expatriates, including community groups, online forums, and social networking groups. Here, you can share your experience and learn from the experiences of others.

Keep your options open

Completely settling into your new life can take some time, so sit back and relax. You may want to return to the country you moved from, but resist that urge until you know its what you truly want–and not just a reaction to your discomfort.

Do not rule out moving again–but consider moving somewhere different, waiting it out, etc. Your options are limitless, but make sure your decisions are based in reality and careful thought.

Transition in any stage of life is difficult, but a positive attitude and a little planning will go a long way.

(photo credit: vintagedept via photopin cc)

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