I’ve appreciated the last 3 weeks in Australia – but my time, thoughts and emotions have been very much pre-0ccupied with my parents’ well-being as my mother is still in hospital – with a diagnosis of cancer. One good out-come of this was that my sister made a surprise visit from The States. In all of the upheaval I’ve still been able to catch-up with some family and friends and some of the other wonderful things that Victoria/Melbourne have to offer (food markets, museums, bush walks, brunch, coffee)……..and I’ve also occasionally thought about our (very) impending move back to France.
“Reverse culture shock is experienced when returning to a place that one expects to be home but actually is no longer, is far more subtle, and therefore, more difficult to manage than outbound shock precisely because it is unexpected and unanticipated,” says Dean Foster, founder and president of DFA Intercultural Global Solutions, a firm that specialises in intercultural training and coaching worldwide.
…….I am somewhat nervous about moving back to France.
“Living abroad changes one’s views on life, one’s perception of the home country and even one’s life goals” – Shanghai Family magazine Jan 2015
Our dear French friend Claire (from Santa Barbara who returned to France just before we moved to China) gave us this advice: ‘Vois ça comme une nouvelle expatriation plutôt que comme un retour!’ (Consider it like a new expatriation rather than a return) She also said that ‘la patience sera ta compagne de tous les jours’ (Patience will be your constant friend)
Expats returning home can expect their top re-entry challenges being:
- No one wants to listen
- You can’t explain
- Reverse homesickness
- Relationships have changed
- People see ‘wrong’ changes
- People misunderstand you
- Feelings of alienation
- Inability to apply new knowledge and skills
- Loss/compartmentalisation of experience
(According to Dr. Bruce La Brack from the School of International Studies at University of the Pacific.)
The thing is, although I did live in France for 8 years, it never did really feel like home. But I have not lived in Australia for over 15 years either and although I always feel a sense of well-being when my feet touch Australian soil – and my school friends and most of my family live in Australia – so much has changed and I do not feeling entirely at home there either. But at the moment I think I’d probably feel more comfortable just staying here……………….