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Singapore - Repatriation

It seems on the surface such a simple thing to go back home, but many people find their return home not as easy as they had thought it would be. When involved in the process of repatriation it could be a good idea to get in touch with the local international expatriate community and become involved in its activities. This will keep you in contact with people who have had similar experiences to you, especially if you feel like an expatriate in your own country!

Mixing with expatriate children could also be of help to your children, who may be more likely to find friends in the international community. Sending your children to an international school might be a positive move, as the children will find friends there who have had similar experiences. It may be that your children do not speak your mother tongue,  they might speak it with a "foreign" accent, or they might have different interests and skills to the local children. These things could be enough to make them feel as if they don't fit in, or experience bullying. Making local friends may take time, and it is important to be aware of the challenge this could represent to your children.

If, or when, you decide to enrol your children in the local school or kindergarten, make sure to inform the teachers and other parents about your background as an expatriate. Describe specifically your child's experiences which may or may not make affect their new school experience. The teachers need to take this into consideration when integrating your children into the school community and helping them to adjust to the curriculum.

If you are planning on re-entering the same industry or career you had prior to moving overseas:

*Stay as involved as possible with former colleagues.
*Remain informed about changes to or new industry trends.
*Keep your network alive.
*Keep your resume updated.
*Increase your 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 while living overseas, whether by being involved in voluntary or mentoring activities.

Personal Situation

Many expatriates find that moving back to their own country is not as easy as they expected. Things may have changed since the last time they lived there. Also, as they now have experienced living in other countries, they are more able to compare the school system, health care, bureaucracy, level of service, availability of goods and services, price level, culture and entertainment, etc. to what they became used to abroad. Consequently, repatriating expatriates may find that they are more critical of their own country than they used to be.

They might even go through a process of being angry, depressed and disappointed, until they realize that repatriation can be at least as challenging as moving to a completely new country. Many times they might even feel that they have more in common with foreigners moving to their country for the first time, than with those who have always lived there. Old friends from home do not necessarily understand them or agree with their opinions any more, and they might not even be interested in their 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 'low' period. Repatriating might be exciting for you, but to those in your neighborhood, you are just a new neighbour. 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 home town.

· If you choose not to work, try and involve yourself in local events, as 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.

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