Everyone expects expats to have an adjustment period when moving to a new host country, but what about when they return home? Most expatriates underestimate the potential challenges to readjusting to life in their home country after an international assignment. However, studies have shown that repatriation is often the most challenging phase of an expatriate experience. Many people face both work-related and personal repatriation challenges:
- loss of visibility and isolation
- changes in the home workplace
- adjusting to the re-entry position
- others devaluing the international experience
- making assumptions of how quickly you will fit back in
- unrealistic expectations of life at home and how it has changed
- social readjustment as friend and family relationships have changed
- difficulty supporting family members experiencing reverse culture shock
Even more distressing is the fact that most companies do not sponsor repatriation programs to help assignees and their families adjust to their move back home.
To make repatriation a more positive experience, follow these tips:
- Keep up with current events and trends back home so that you will be up-to-date with what is going on when you move back.
- Be sure to keep in touch with your family and friends while away to maintain healthy relationships. Email or write them often so that they will be familiar with what you have experienced in your time away from home.
- Have a mentor or an associate in the old office who keeps you informed and keeps your name in circulation while you are on your assignment.
- Make sure your new position at re-entry is clearly defined: review expectations and clarify misconceptions.
- Make a list of what to take care of before departing your host country and also what you need to do once you arrive back home.
- Relax! Anticipate an impact and be prepared for the unexpected.