You’re coming home

Repatriation is commonly cited as one of the most challenging phases in a globally mobile lifestyle. While there is a great deal of support available for assignees in unfamiliar destinations, preparation for a return home can be much more elusive. Many assignees and their families are surprised at how their experiences have changed them, and at how much their home country has changed during their absence.

Here are five things assignees can do now that will support their journey to repatriation later:

Consider challenges
In many ways, repatriation should be viewed as a new assignment rather than a homecoming. Many changes — some small, and possibly some substantial — have taken place in your home country during your time abroad. Take the time to review your perceptions and identify your expectations.

Plan ahead
Think about where the children will be academically on your return home, and compile a list of possible schools or colleges. An accompanying spouse or partner may need to consider whether they are likely to return to their career at home, or use this opportunity to change direction. Those who have learned a new language, or wish to continue developing their interest and involvement in a new culture, should research how they will be able to do so at home.

Talk about what you are going through with friends, family, and colleagues. Connecting with others who have repatriated, and who have experienced reverse culture shock, can prepare you for the unanticipated. Looking for counseling sessions, reentry workshops, and ex-expat clubs in your home destination and online can be helpful, as can determining how you will keep in touch with friends you made abroad.

Stay familiar
Being in sync with your peers will be important when you return. Magazines and newspapers from home, whether in paper or online format, can be a good way to maintain this connection, as can podcasts and other streaming media programs.

Maintain data
Moving from one destination to another requires organization, regardless of what location is “home.” Make sure the following information is up to date, and in easy places to access:

  • Household goods inventories
  • Personal documents such as birth records, citizenship papers, passports and driving licenses
  • Legal documents relating to wills, family matters, property ownership, or insurance policies
  • Medical and dental records, including test results, X-rays and MRIs, prescriptions, and vaccination updates
  • School records and documents such as examples of student work, certificates, and test results

These are just a few of the things you can do to prepare for repatriation. The International Relocation Center offers many other resources to begin thinking about the challenges and processes of returning home.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, Content Manager