Home Repatriation: 5 Tips for Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock

Repatriation: 5 Tips for Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock

Posted by on February 25th, 2016.

Dealing with reverse culture shock as an expat

Even those who have never relocated overseas will be able to imagine many of the difficulties surrounding emigration. However, it often comes as a surprise that there is a similar emotional upheaval when repatriating.

Whilst being an outsider in a new culture comes with expectations of a steep learning curve, very few predict similar feelings when returning to their country of origin. Here are some top tips to help adjust to repatriation.

Don’t Rush Things, Make Memories

So, you’ve made the decision to return to your home country. One way in which you can ease the stress of relocation is to give yourself plenty of time to get used to the idea and say goodbye to your adopted home.

It’s important to remember why you chose to move to your host country in the first place, so make the most of your remaining time there by doing all the those things you wanted to when you arrived but put on the backburner as life got in the way.

Change from expat to tourist and make lasting memories of an experience which has helped shaped your life. Having good times to look back on will not only help solidify friendships with those you are leaving behind but also give you plenty to talk about with those you are returning to.

Appreciate your New Friends

For many expats, even those who have not lived overseas for a long period, the friendships and relationships you forge in your host country become hugely significant. This is not surprising as making friends is one of the easiest ways to learn the idiosyncrasies of the new culture you face and make you feel a sense of belonging. As a result of the emotional ties you make, repatriation can be a difficult prospect to face.

One way of easing this slightly is to make sure you leave adequate time for saying goodbye. When leaving people behind the last thing you want is to have your goodbyes rushed by inadequate planning. If you take the time and care to reassure the friends you’ve made that they’re a massively important part of your life it will increase the chances of your friendship continuing once you return home.

When moving back to your country of origin you may be taken aback by the changes which have occurred since you left. Those friends and family members who were an integral part of your previous life may have moved elsewhere, entered a new phase in their lives or seem like different people to the ones you once knew. This can result in a sense of isolation, so maintaining relationships with your friends overseas is important. Having someone to voice your concerns to, even over the phone or skype, will make a massive difference. Additionally, knowing that you can return for holidays and/or visits could make the process of repatriation less emotionally daunting.

Prepare to Feel Like an Outsider in Familiar Surroundings

It’s quite common for returning expats to experience some of the daunting feelings they had when moving to a completely new country. Depending on how long you have been away, your home country may have changed significantly. Don’t be surprised if you don’t immediately cotton on to the latest slang phrases or jokes, and it may take some pretty intensive TV viewing to catch up with any popular programmes you may have missed.

Something else to be aware of is that you might feel a little alienated by your own family or old friends. You may not be aware of ‘in jokes’ or how their lives have developed. Don’t return thinking that everything will be exactly the same, tread cautiously until you feel caught up on the many lifestyle changes that may have occurred in your absence.

Take an Interest in Others

After spending time overseas it’s natural to feel that you’ll be a person of interest when you return, that all your friends and family want to hear every detail about your time away. Whilst some will be genuinely interested in your expat tales, others may not want to be bombarded with anecdotes.

It’s important to bear in mind that everyone will have been living their own lives and dealing with their own priorities and concerns during your absence. You should be just as interested in what has happened to them as you expect them to be in you. Just because you made the move doesn’t make their experiences any less valid. If you’re worried you might be boring your friends back home with your stories, you can call your friends from your host nation or record your experiences on a blog.

Give Yourself an Adjustment Period

When moving home after time overseas it’s important to give yourself time to adjust and ease back into everything. Don’t expect to be able to slip back into the life you had before you left without any sense of transition. If at all possible, it’s worth having enough money set aside to support yourself for a couple of weeks of downtime when you first return. Let yourself relax and get a feel for your home nation again, catch up with friends and family and enjoy being home again.


There’s a chance that you may feel unsettled for some time after repatriating. This isn’t uncommon at all so it’s worth finding blogs and forums featuring people who have had similar experiences. If you approach your repatriation in the right frame of mind and have realistic expectations of what life back home is likely to be like, it may shorten the amount of time it takes for you to feel settled.

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