When expatriation goes smoothly, it can be a wonderful life experience. It broadens your horizons, allows you to discover new cultures and is often a great stepping stone in your career.
However, expats have learnt to adapt to local customs in their host country over a relatively long period of time, familiarised themselves with bureaucratic restrictions and developed new professional skills which are not always valued in their home country.
Consequently, when planning an expat project, it is important to consider your return home as an intrinsic part of the process. Leaving your country is one thing, but you should also bear in mind that one day you will return home and must readapt to a life that is different from your previous one.
Reverse culture shock and making the most of your experience
For the large majority of expats, returning home is a difficult time, perhaps the most challenging and complicated part of the entire expat project.
Returning to your roots mean readapting to life in your home country. Expats learn to live according to the rules of their host country over an extended period of time. They then have to readapt to the rules of their home country, a process that can be difficult when part of their identity has been forged in another country. The longer the period of time spent abroad, the more difficult it is to readjust.
Furthermore, whilst working abroad can help you develop your skills, expatriation is not always considered an advantage in certain countries. It is therefore important to highlight the benefits that come from living abroad. The experience allows you to learn new languages as well as develop skills which are often highly valued by employers: adaptability, listening skills, creativity and agility, to list just a few.
Making your return home easier
There are many ways to make the process of returning to your home country easier. Forums run by former expats are packed with personal experiences and advice, whilst blogs are also a good resource to make you feel less alone and help you face the emotional challenge of returning home. As for the professional challenge, companies and organisations specialised in international mobility can help you showcase your skills and find a new job. Additionally, the French senate has provided an interesting online document for French citizens returning home, which is also relevant to expats from other countries.