Tips for successful repatriations

Sculpture of salmon

Photograph by P.J. Hatfield (curatorscamera.com)

[This post originally appeared over at Move Guides.]

In my earlier Blogger’s Q&A for Move Guides, I was asked about the three tips I would give to any repatriates before journeying back to their homeland. I said, ‘Be positive, plan (from before you move abroad if you can) and do not expect it to be the same as it was when you lived there before.’ Below, I say a little more about why I think these are important, and why they can help make a successful repatriation.

1. Be positive

There are a lot of people who will tell you that they realised moving back home was not as easy as they had expected. This is really important, but it can make it sound like it will be all bad. Some people do repatriate under difficult circumstances, such as having lost a job or a loved one, which can make it especially challenging. Many people, though, do choose to return. Either way, approaching the move positively can help. This means engaging with it as the next adventure, perhaps just as you did when you were moving abroad in the first place. Think about things you are looking forward to – favourite foods, being near family and friends, revisiting loved places, communicating in your native language, not having to worry about visas, catching up on local news and television shows your relatives back home have been talking about for months… There will be lots of things you miss about where you’ve been living abroad, but there are probably also lots of things to be looked forward to. Remind yourself of those during the hard times too.

2. Plan (from before you move abroad if you can)

When you left your home country, you will most likely have done a lot of planning to prepare a place to live, find jobs and schools, organise visas, find out how to get there and get around, learn the basics of a new language, arrange practicalities like bank accounts and insurance… You may overlook the need to do many of these things again (notwithstanding re-learning how to communicate) when moving back home because you know how the system works there and may think you already have most things in place. However, planning as if for a move abroad can help avoid suddenly finding that you do not have electriticy, or the paperwork required to open a bank account, or the ability to send your children to school. If you have even the slightest intention of returning, it is worth thinking about these things before you leave in the first place. For example, if you have a home and can afford to maintain it by letting it out while you’re away, you will have a base and address in your home country when you want to go back.

3. Do not expect it to be the same as it was when you lived there before

Things will have moved on in your home country while you have been away, regardless of how long it has been. Keeping up-to-date with the news or friends and family can help, but do not imagine you have a real sense of what life is like back home. Remember, too, that you’re not the same either, so the changes are two-fold. It is important to go home with an open mind and an awareness that your life there will be different from how it was before. Unless you’ve been feeling very nostalgic (for a life that probably never existed), this is no bad thing, and takes us full circle as something to be positive about, and plan for.

Comments
2 Responses to “Tips for successful repatriations”
  1. Jean says:

    Ah, that Susan Pointe sculpture in front of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of BC, Vancouver BC. I used to bike by all the time daily from downtown.

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