Repatriation: What Happens When Expats Return Home?

By dhyansummers, 03 November, 2015

Three Top Tips


Most people think that living abroad and dealing with learning a new language, making friends and culture shock are the most difficult aspects of expat life.  Well, think again! 


Expats face a whole new series of culture shocks when they return home, particularly if they’ve been abroad for a while, and if they have children who have mostly been raised in foreign countries.


Tip # 1:  Be honest about what you don’t know.


When you return to your home country after being away for a while, there are bound to be countless cultural references thatwill go over your head.  It may be a new band, TV personality, news item, or political humor.


I suggest that the easiest way to deal with this is to be honest about what you don’t know and why.  Of course, the check out person in the grocery store isn’t particularly interested, but those close to us can quickly fill us in, and we can even find the humor in the situation.


Tip # 2:  Expect not to know.


It can feel strange not to know some of the basics in your own country.  We expect this to happen when abroad, but are caught unawares when this happens at home. 


One helpful hint is to expect not to know for a while, and give yourself time to get reacquainted with your own culture. 


It’s especially helpful to model this for children if you have them. Children can easily feel shamed for not knowing what their peers are talking about, and hate being perceived as different.  It’s important that your children also realize that it will take some time to understand what everyone is talking about, and to ask when they have questions.


Tip # 3:  Acknowledge that you can’t know it all.


Acknowledge that you can’t know it all right away, and that it takes time to get back in the groove.  This will take some of the pressure off. 


If you can adopt an attitude of curiosity about your own culture, as you undoubtedly did when abroad, the process of repatriation will seem a lot less formidable and a lot more fun!


If you’d like to book a free 30 minute consult with Dhyan Summers, visit