Thursday, 10 September 2015

How to be an Expat Returned

On this day, one year ago, I was on a plane returning to the Great White North. A few days after landing I tried to express some of the feels. A couple months later I wrote a sort of love letter to London and then made a decision to be positive about my return. I still have a ton of feels about my return to Canada, but I feel like I'm coping a bit better. If you are an expat about to transition into being an ex-expat after a long period abroad, here's a how to:

1.No stuff. Make do.
 If you were like me, before heading abroad gave/trashed/traded/stored all the knickknacks and stuff that made up my worldly possessions, only taking with me essentials and minimal clothes. Returning home means, most of those things are long gone. But it's just stuff, and you've survived without it so far. Take a moment to lament the old stuff and then remember all the things you were able to do because you let go of that stuff to travel and then smile because you're awesome.

2.Keep in touch
 I hung on to my UK number for an embarrassingly long time. It was my wireless cord to my friends abroad. But really, I needn't have stressed, we live in an amazing time of technology. Now there's an app of your choice to stay in contact with friends all over the world without spending a cent. What's App is a favourite in Europe, not as common with my North American friends I've discovered though. But there are a whole bunch more, not to mention social media helps me feel part of my friends lives even when I'm a great distance away.
It's okay to remember the past, just don't get stuck there. These can be life long friends with a little work on both your parts.

3.Seek the fun
 One of my favouite parts about living in London was all the activities that were happening everyday. Returning home I've had to make a conscience effort to say yes to adventure but it has helped me with enjoying being back home. Nothing's going to be like it was in London, but I'm certainly going to seek out the fun.
Keeping busy keeps away the 'expat returned' blues, especially in the beginning.

4.Make connections
 Join a group of some sort, find a job, volunteer for your community, make friends. Making these kinds of connections will make you feel part of a bigger group. Staying home and binge-watching all the American shows you missed out on while away is fine enough to do every once in a while but feeling connected to your community helps you feel important and that you have a purpose. You're awesome, you need to share that awesomeness around!

5.Dogs make life better

 This is a general life rule. Dogs are great. Mine is the best. Occasionally the "expat returned" blues will sneak up on you even with doing the above things, but it's nothing a good dog cuddle can't cure.

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