Monday, September 23, 2013

Going back: home, not so sweet home anymore?

Taking for granted that life will be the same once you moved back to your own native country is a bit naif, because you can't expect to find everything just the way you left it. We are in a kind of limbo where we don't feel we belong to either countries, the one we left and the one we came back to. It may seem easy to come back to a reality we know well, but it is only a mechanism, a trick of the mind that makes us believe we can fall back into a pattern we know well with the only purpose to reassure us and to hold on to those pillars we can safely lean on to. Finally, we think, home sweet home! Nonetheless, we experience some hard-reality checks. In fact, not only do we change while undergoing significant experiences abroad, but also our country has changed in the meanwhile. We can see that every time we meet expats that talk about their homeland like a place that only exists in their minds. In fact, they cling on to everything that reminds them of home they way they knew it, but it couldn't be further away from reality. This pang of nostalgia for one's homeland is more a mood towards a definite time rather than a place per se. Upon returning home, many expats don't feel a connection to their country any more, it is like being estranged relatives all of a sudden! Buildings that used to be there, aren't there anymore, the local stores that have been there forever (or so it seemed to us) have disappeared, our old-time friends have moved on with their lives (of course!). We might give these changes different names, evolution, involution or revolution but it doesn't change that fact that is part of the normal flow of time. The sooner we realize it, the faster we can adjust to the new status of things. This article I found gives very good advice about how to deal with the whole issue of reverse culture shock.