When you pack up your life and move abroad your life becomes a bit more, complex. Your heart and head are now split trying to exist between two counties, not knowing where you now start or where you ever ended. Still interested and emotionally attached to your old life, while still attempting to create and balance your new. Much time is spent battling the inevitable internal struggle of never really feeling 100 percent quite here nor there.
This mental and physical position allows for quite the uncertainty when one embarks on their first journey back home, as I just personally experienced.
I have recently returned home to Los Angeles after living my first year abroad in Sydney. Australia is now my permanant home so I was expecting to cry my eyes out at the sight of my family… To feel pure joy snuggling up with my dog….And to laugh so hard my face would hurt hanging out with friends.
And yes!!! This all did happen, bringing me a type of happiness I have never experienced or have appreciated otherwise.
But, what I didn’t expect was unfamiliar emotions, accompanied by random factors and circumstances that ultimately affected my whole trip and even my life today.
It was the unexpected downside of my trip that I am focusing on today, in attempt to help other expats be aware of and be prepared for, what I had to learn the hard way.
Keep in mind the following before planning your trip and keep it fresh in your mind while enjoying your tour:
One thing I did not intend on was for jet leg to hit me harder than a freight train moving at full speed! I got off the plane with pure excitement powering my energy level, but once that faded, the true colors of jet lag completely took over.
No energy, grumpy, moody, and just straight up in a head funk.
I struggled with normal braining functioning for days (yes, even more than usual), as fatigue and slight depression began to set in. I tried all the tricks! Drinking A LOT, sleeping A LOT, working out, relaxing and even building puzzles. But even with all that effort, I never started to feel even semi normal till the very end of my whole trip.
I would strongly advise to at least attempt to plan for jet lag to help avoid the misery I went through. Even though it is “medically” quite unavoidable, being aware of the symptoms and possible remedies would be helpful.
Click here to read credible tips on how to deal with this son of a bitch…. sorry, I mean..jet lag.
Unless you are actually doing some real travelling during your trip, it is safe to say you will most likely be staying with friends or family when in town. If staying with family, remember readjusting to “living back at home” with rules, curfews, and children randomly running around will be hard for anyone after living independently across the world for the past year. I struggled re-adapting to LOUD NOISES!!! Which is a natural occurrence staying in a full house. The most noise that comes out of my Sydney apartment comes from the sound of the tea kettle going off… and even then I’m like, “Whoa, let’s calm that shit down.”
In general, knowing what your living conditions will be like before arrival is very helpful. Plan some nights at a friend’s house, maybe some nights away, and with your family. Make sure you are happy and comfortable, especially the first nights of your trip or you will never conquer the disruptive beast of a jet lag.
Wifi..a Cellular phone… shoot ,even a pager plays a role in your freedom and ability to communicate with EVERYONE. What is more frustrating than trying to contact someone or waiting to be contacted but unable without wifi?? NOTHING!! Well, other than annoying lawn ornaments or losing the end of the tape.
Being co-dependant on the wifi Gods as the only form of communication can be maddening, especially when you get that time sensitive message hours later when it’s is now too late.
Figure out your method of communication before you go, and I do not recommend a data only approach. Get a sim card to put in your phone that gives you as much data and minutes as you can afford! This is to ensure you can avoid hopping from McDonald’s to McDonalds just to pick up some wifi and probably some diabetes too while your there.
When I moved to Australia I took every penny from every pocket with me, leaving me broker than a 1,000 pound prostitute when I returned. The less money = less freedom which then = the less bacon covered bacon deep fried bacon wrapped bacon burgers one can indulge in.
Try and organize your finances a head of time. See which awesome friend will spot you here and which old hook up will spot you there, and then make sure you have enough to cover yourself the rest of the time.
If you just want to play by ear, great! Just don’t bitch about miraculously not being able to do anything because you have no money. Because surprise!!! It’s NOT a surprise.
Now, I love my family more than I can express, and have missed them an unexplainable amount over the past year. Just the thought of seeing their faces brought tears to my eyes the whole month prior and lasted till half of the plane ride over.
Having that said, the capacity to love your family is a far different concept than your ability to tolerate your family. And when I mean tolerate family, I don’t mean in the sense of acceptance, tolerance..no no. I mean in the sense of how long can you be around them without you wanting to bang your head against the wall from nagging or arguing, tolerance.
This struggle is real for EVERYONE and is especially experienced around the holidays, You know who you are..strategically planning how long to stay at a family members house to help avoid reaching the point of pulling ones hair extensions out, OR, secretly bring that extra 3 bottles of wine to drink to help assist as an “attitude adjuster” when they get a bit too much to handle.
Well, this scenario it is not much different. Coming home after not seeing them for a long time might help extend the time it takes for that tolerance level to hit, but most likely will not cured it. Throw a layer of Jet lag moodiness and funk, and that tolerance goes from a day to hours in seconds.
This tolerance level should be a major contributor when considering how long you plan on seeing and or staying with family. And, more importantly, how many bottles of wine you should pack 🙂
Time plays a factor in well..most everything, so it’s no surprise it also contributes to the amount of pressure you feel to get things done while home. I wanted to accomplish an imaginable amount of things and see a ridiculously amount of people for the given time I had. I miserably failed at achieving many plans, causing me to spend the whole plane ride home making up fantasies on things such as seeing Mickey Mouse and visiting wine country (Two different fantasies). Luckily, I made time for what I wanted most – Mexican food, American bacon, and a mimosa brunch, but I missed out on heaps of experiences I was looking forward to the whole year.
The tip here is prioritize everything you want to accomplish on your trip home and align that with how many days you are able to take on trip. Otherwise you might be sacrificing a lot more adventures than you need too.
Unless you plan on being stoned and playing video games your whole trip, the ability to get around is kind of important!
When I moved to Australia, like most, sold my car and I also lost my driver’s license at the pub when I first arrived as all expats do obviously, right.. Right?! Anyways, given these two variables, I was unable to drive myself from point A to point B whatsoever, leaving me no choice but to bug family and friends. I also resorted to using whatever public transportation I could get my hands on, which in the middle of Fontana, CA is practically nothing but a cargo train or the back of an illegal pick-up truck.
This mobile constriction also assisted time with hindering me from accomplishing what I wanted to experience and do during my visit, which really messed with my psyche.
Organize your transportation prior if possible, see what you can do. Discuss with family to borrow a car, and organize with friends when you can hitch a ride. If you are stuck like I was, just keep in mind the consequences and do your best to not let it affect the quality of your trip.
Expectations of Others
One really really important thing I always fail to keep in mind are the downsides of expecting too much from others.
When you move away you take everyone mentally with you throughout every new experience. Missing everyone daily as you are always reminded of those you love even in a new unfamiliar land. But when you moved away, their life’s just kept on ticking away without you. No ones world stop when you left, in anyway like it did yours, and that can be a bit of a harsh reality.
You get back and have huge expectations, wanting to be treated like you have been missed dearly. But after they have seen you once, it was like you never went away, and that is that. So my return home and my excitement to see many people might have been internally reciprocated, but not actioned. The amount of effort I was expecting from many turned out somewhat heartbreaking, but the massive amount of effort by the unexpected and the new were luckily there to even it all out.
It is also very important to keep in mind exactly the type of friends you have and who you have always accepted them to be. I personally, have the most amazing friends, I love them more than life BUT, are many normally flaky? Totally…. Has commitment ever actually been their thing? Nahhh….If this is the same in your case, and you get upset that some end up flaking, really.. it’s something you put on yourself. People’s personality traits will not magically change because you are in town, sadly, that’s not how life works.
Though you will be filled with many emotions, it is important for them not to take over, keep your expectations of others down and reality in check. Remember – You alone moved away, you alone will only feel exactly what you feel, don’t expect otherwise from anyone.
Having realistic expectations in general about everything will help prevent disappointment through out your trip.
When you leave to start your new life abroad, you will be haunted by any unfinished business that you left untouched before you left. Doesn’t matter what it is, those worries do not just magically vanish once living in the opposite hemisphere.
As uneasy and honestly, a bit fearful I was to face these situations, I made it a priority to make sure I maned up and faced my ghosts no matter how uncomfortable.
Confronting the unsolved issues, was one of the best things I could have ever done for myself. I have yet to be bothered by any of those ghosts again that have been haunting me for so long. Addressing the situations gave me closure without even realizing I needed it, and my life here has continued uninterrupted by my past ever since.
Confront your fears and whatever has even slightly bothered you since you have moved. Let go of the past and give yourself some everlasting peace of mind.
If there is any one tip you leave with today, it would be this one.
After a weeks time of being home, and experiencing such random feelings, it was quite hard to get out of this funk I had put myself in and I was fed up!! So… I sat and thought,
“What do I normally do to get myself out of a funk? What am I good at?” Ohhh that’s right.. Doing me.
I realized being constantly surrounded by people and always having to be “on” I never really had any time to experience and embrace just being alone with myself.
I dedicated 2 days to going off on my own to my old hood, where I could roam free as I please. No plans to do anything, no plans for any one to meet up. Just me, doing my own thing just as I was doing before I left the country. By doing this I finally felt like myself again. Refreshed, rejuvenated and a bit more in tune with the world.
Some alone time can be one of the best cure when experiencing feelings of uncertainty or confusion. Whether it was a solo weekend trip like myself or a simple 2 hour hike, take some time to do you, and only you on your trip.
Solitude will help clear your mind, so you can reflect and embrace what you have experienced from your time away and how it feels to be back in the life you use to know.
I don’t know how I will feel on my next journey home, but I do know with all my new insights I will be going prepared. I think having too high expectations set me up from the very start for trouble, and I let that trouble bring me down. My trip overall was both a wonderful heartfelt experience that makes me smile, while simultaneously being an important learning experience that makes reflect.
Though not everyone will expereince all of the above exactly the way I did, there is no way for anyone to escape it all. Hopefully those who have already popped their homecoming cherry, were able to relate to my experiences and those who have not will be mindful of them before they go.
Your trip can be filled with extreme highs and extremely lows. Both, in which will give you the opportunity to appreciate the deep understanding you can learn about yourself while along the ride.
Private messages = Micheedom@gmail.com
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