Munich - Repatriation
Many expatriates find that moving back to their own country is not as easy as they expected. Things may have changed since last time you lived there. Also, as you now have experience from living in other countries, you are more able to compare the school system, health care, bureaucracy, levels of service, availability of goods and services, price levels, culture and entertainment, etc. to what you became used to abroad. You may find that you are more critical about your own country than you used to be, and you might even go through a phase of being angry and depressed and disappointed, until you realize that repatriation can be at least as challenging as moving to a completely new country.
Many times you might even feel you have more in common with foreigners moving to your country for the first time, to those who have always lived there. Old friends from home do not necessary understand you or agree with your opinions, and they might not even be interested in your experiences as an expatriate. It might be wise to keep a low profile.
· Ironically, repatriating back to a place you know well can bring more anguish than actually transferring to a new location. Keep in mind that after the initial excitement of moving has worn off, you might go through a down period. Repatriating might be exciting for you, but to those in your neighborhood, you are just a new neighbor. This attitude might make you feel alienated and uncomfortable.
· Don't be surprised if people aren't interested in your experiences abroad. They might have a hard time envisioning what you went through, and will most likely be very involved in their own lives and community. Don't overwhelm them with all the fascinating details of your experiences in other countries. Your friends may have never gone further than the next biggest town and your globetrotting lifestyle might make them feel embarrassed. Put your memories aside for awhile; let them tell you about their lives.
· Ask all you dare about where to buy clothes, cookware, appliances, and books; ask how to get around town, although it may have not changed much, if at all! These small gestures will make old friends feel appreciated and important. They will embrace you back home and readily show and tell you all you have missed while you were away. This is definitely a very effective way of integrating back into your hometown.
· If you choose not to work, try and involve yourself in local events, this will increase your sense of belonging in the community.
· Try and keep in touch with the friends you made overseas. It's important to be able to share your thoughts about overseas living with someone.
When being in a process of repatriation it could be a good idea to keep in touch with the international expatriate community and get involved in their activities. This will also be of help for the children, who are more likely to find friends in the international community. Continuing in an international school might also be an advantage, as they will find friends there who have similar experiences. Your children may not speak your mother tongue or they might speak it with a "foreign" accent, and they might have other interests and skills than local children. This could be enough to make them feel left out and picked on. Making local friends may take time, and it is important to be aware of the challenge this could represent for the children. If or when you decide to have your children in a local school or kindergarten, make sure you inform the teachers and other parents about your background as an expatriate - with the handicaps and advantages this involves. The teachers need to take this into consideration when integrating your children in the school community and adjusting to the curriculum.
If you are planning on re-entering in the same industry or career you had prior to moving overseas:
- Stay as involved as possible with former colleagues.
- Remain informed on changes or new industry trends.
- Keep network alive.
- Keep resume updated.
- Increase skill level or education while abroad, even if it is not in the same line of business, do something to illustrate your dedication to improved skill levels.
- If possible, continue working in some capacity, whether voluntary or mentoring, while living overseas.