We always hear about stories of our fascinating life abroad, being multi-lingual, having friends all over the world, etc. Yes, the TCK life. But what happens when you’ve reached the expiration date of our beloved lifestyle and you have to pack it up and come back to your home country… Well, then. I must say, welcome to the TCK Goes Home club!
You may be coming back home for various reasons whether or not the decision was under your control. Coming back home will be a very overwhelming experience, good or bad. I remember as I counted down the days I had left in the U.S., I couldn’t even fathom the mixed feelings and emotions that started clouding my head. There was definitely a presence of uncertainty and the fact that I had no control over this feeling scared me. There’s something about “going back home” that sounds counterintuitive and a bit backward for us TCKs, who’s usually all about going to different places.
As an ATCK (adult TCK) who is 1+ years into her move back to her home country, I feel like I can speak on behalf of this topic. I’ve been through ups and downs (I still am actually, but isn’t everyone?) during the transition. So today I’m here to make that transition easier for you by breaking down what to expect when you go back to your home country! Keep scrolling to read more:
“I LOVE/HATE IT HERE”
During the weeks leading up to the big move, you have probably built up expectations of your home country. If you have lived there before, you probably still have pieces of memories of your home. If you’ve never lived there before, your imagination is probably flying wild. Whatever expectations you have of your home country, it’s going to be the total opposite of what you imagined. If you had a fantasy of your home country, it will come crumbling down as you start seeing cracks and flaws. If you were holding onto a bad impression, you’ll realize “hey, it’s not that bad.” But expectations aren’t meant to be met, right…
Reverse culture shock is a b-word
Whether you like or hate the place, there’s nothing that’ll stick out more prominently during the transition period than reverse culture shock. You’re going to feel out of place. Everything about your home country is a mystery or a contradiction. Don’t expect that you’ll blend right in, no matter how knowledgeable and prepared you think you are of the place. You have been away from home for a considerable amount of time, which means a considerable amount of changes had also occurred without you.
Nostalgia will get the best of you
You will miss your old lifestyle. You’ll miss the food, your friends, the places you went to, the air you breathed, the people on the streets, the good, and even the ugly. You wish you could live that life again. You will also fear that you’ll never live that life again.
So now that you know what to expect when you move back, what can you do to make your transition smoother and less painful?
Do your research
No matter how adventurous you are, it’s still good to have the basics down before you move back. The very basic preparations can cover currency exchange rates, general news from the country, the weather, or the area you’ll be living in. Before I moved back to Korea, I skimmed over the subway lines just to get myself familiarized with the geography. I also started doing light online job search just to see what types of jobs were available. (Good news – we don’t have to worry about visas anymore!!)
Get back in touch with friends & relatives
If you have friends and close relatives in your home country, reach out to them! Having someone you know in a new (?) place is always comforting and less daunting than not having anyone. They will be great resources whenever you have problems or questions.
There’s no better way to become accustomed to a place (even if that place is your so-called home) than being active and proactive! There are many ways to meet people these days thanks to the Internet. Meetup.com is a great way to join clubs around your area and meet people with similar interests. Facebook also offers a ton of clubs and events you can join. *Of course, you should always act with caution and good judgment with online connections. Sorry for being mommy here!
Another great way is to be a tourist in your own city. Once you’ve moved back, pick a day then pack it with activities, museums, historic sites, restaurants as you would if you were visiting the place for the first time. Not only is it an excellent way to see your home in a new perspective, you’ll also get to feel the excitement of exploring that you love so much!
Accept the reality
This one might not sound as sweet as the tips mentioned above, but it’s probably the most realistic one. Sure you can go exploring, make new friends and make yourself like the place. However, the best way to come to terms with your situation is to accept the reality as it is. Hate the place? Not quite what you expected? Then there’s no need to hold back on those emotions. Let it out. Tell your close friends and family members about how you feel. One day, you’ll realize that everything is ok! How did that happen? By accepting your reality.
Come to think of it, haven’t we all been there before whenever we moved to a new home? We’re experts at this already. So worry no more – we’ll get through this once again!
If you are expecting to move back to your home country soon, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you found this post helpful in any way. 🙂
If you are moving, how are you preparing? What are your expectations of your home country?