You are not ready to go until you are ready to stay and why RCS is in many ways a lot about you and not so much about culture

Many returnees ask themselves “Why is that important to re-adapt back home if I plan on leaving anyways?”. Considering that re-adapting requires energy and intention this is a very fair question. The answer is that you are not ready to go until you are ready to stay. Here’s why:

I can’t blame you for wanting to leave fast because you feel unable to cope with stress, I have been tempted to do so many times myself. But if you leave because you can’t address the issues that are bothering you, you are letting them win, you are making an escape. You might jump on a plane that will take you very far away phisically, but inside you did not go anywhere, the issues are still there with you, and they might try to haunt you away or at home.

How annoying! Let’s take care of them first.

There are things back at home that you might need to embrace before you can leave at peace with yourself. Some voids might need to be filled, some friendships might have to be mended, some personal or professional issues must be taken care of. Use this priceless opportunity to do your homework back home and you will learn a lot about yourself. Travel is about learning and growing, so don’t look the other way just because you are home! Once you find your issues do what feels right about them: integrate them in you or simply let go of them. It really doesn’t matter if you are leaving or staying, what matters is that you are at ease about those issues. If you are staying you will re-adapt back home by solving those problems, and if you are leaving you will leave with valuable peace of mind once you have re-adapted and you feel like you leave because you want to, not because you have to.

Regardless of where you are now or what your plans are, my advice is to spend the time and energy necessary to feel at ease and at peace back home. Whether you jump into that plane or decide to stay it will all feel much, much better. You will feel warm, fuzzy and happy inside. So tie your boot laces and tread inside to find your issues, roll in their mud, wrestle them, breathe them, absorb your mother culture again, make it yours and then let go. Then a beautiful moment will come: you will know that you have won, that your issues could not defeat you, that you had more spirit than they did and that now you are above them. You will then be able to tell other travelers and expats about your experience. You will walk taller. You will know yourself better. You will have that unique kind of confidence that you make yours after having won at home.

Win at home before leaving or staying, but always win first. Make your home country yours again before staying and before leaving.

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Focus on the bigger picture and don’t get caught in the small stuff

When you allow yourself to miss too much the little things from your host country (your favorite brand of cereal, the morning air…) you prevent yourself from appreciating the little things and the bigger things you have in front of you at home. Also when you focus too much on the little things that annoy you from back home (bad customer service, obnoxious people…) you are wasting energy by getting caught in the little hurdles, and making yourself more miserable. Doing these things could is a way of expressing your longing for your host country, but deep down you are using these things as excuses to allow yourself to feel bummed. However, it is just too easy to get caught on these “little trees” and feel stuck. Focusing instead on the big trees that of the forest you have in front of you and realize it is also made of little things that can be lovely, fun and interesting, even if they are from home, will make you feel better and more in tune with your surroundings. It is funny to think about how returnees we seem to transition much easily if we focus our energy on bigger trees. You would think it would be easier to transition with the little things, but human nature often proves picky and difficult when it is about the details and brave and wise when it is about the bigger stuff. So make a choice: are you going to be picky and difficult or are you going to be brave and wise? In other words: are you going to make it hard for you to re-adapt and feel miserable because of small stuff or are you going to step up to the challenge and feel empowered by it? I want to hear your thoughts about this! Email me at howtosurvivercs@gmail.com or comment below!

General resources for expats

Just because you are going home it doesn’t mean you have to function the way you used to there a while back. You have changed and acquired different needs and wants, and trying to fly with what you used before might not make the cut you are looking for these days. So what do you do?

Most likely there are some expats from your host country or from other countries at your home city or area. These people have already adapted there to a certain extent, and have probably used services and products and have their opinions formed about them, so get in touch with them and ask them about the resources they use for everything you might need or want, and their reviews to see if they would make a good fit for what you are looking for.

From finding a new job to getting imported groceries or goods, expats in your city have a wealth of information that you can benefit from, and many are really eager to help you. They can hook you up with sports clubs, women’s associations, established playgroups for children…Tap into their field knowledge of the area to save time and resources finding what you want and profit from their experiences as users or consumers.

Considering yourself an expat (even though you are technically “from there”) can significantly help you ease back home when it comes to logistics and settling, getting things organized and set for you to re-start your life. Your local friends and family can be of great help assisting you with information, but unless they are expats themselves, the type of information they can offer is probably mostly “local” information, which is great and necessary as well for you to successfully re-adapt. Try to mesh these two type of information and groups, the expats and the locals, in order to create an environment that suits your needs and wants in order to make a much smoother transition for yourself.

Don’t forget all the resources that you used when you lived abroad, there are plenty of great companies that can make your life easier back home just like they did outside of your home country. If you used Cragislist.org or similar ones, or got help from the Chamber of Commerce or from business groups or Meetup.com groups abroad, don’t stop just because you are home! These resources also exist back home and you can take advantage of them like another expat, like Expatexpress or check out this fantastic list that ExpatsUnite put together. A good place to start even before you go back is Sharon Gilor’s specific and complete relocation guide. Google the name of your city + expats or expats services or expat products and see what comes up. Also, don’t forget to email me the best resources you know of so I can put up here your personal recomnendations in the blog and other expats can use them! Thank you!

Re-adapt and substitute items in your Routine

When I got home to a big city after living in a runner’s dreamland in Boulder, Colorado, I stopped running. I know I shouldn’t, but I did. I looked for green spaces but couldn’t find any but the funny thing was that it was all in my head! This makes me feel really stupid, but I have to tell you: I happen to actually live right in front of a pretty big pine forest in urban Madrid, but I was so caught up in my memories of endless and wild spaces that I literally couldn’t see the great running space I had in front of me.  I didn’t run for months, adding misery to my RCS. Running has always been such a simple and quick way to relieve stress for me. Every time I would feel like running I would remind myself that I was not in Colorado anymore and stayed at home being super grumpy and unhappy. Until one day I grumpily tied my running shoes and started running there. What a discovery!

I am not going to lie, that pine forest is not a great, great open space packed with wildlife. It is the only single option I have here right next to my house, instead of the many options Colorado had on the menu for me, close to home and without driving, but hey, I started appreciating it a lot. I realized I am extremely lucky to live right next to it in a big city. It was very dirty and I started putting up posters with plastic bags attached asking for people’s help in cleaning it up and inadvertently I started getting more integrated in a cause that is important for me, now the neighbors pick up trash so efficiently that very little help is needed, and I get a much, much greener and nicer space to run in.

The point of this video and post is that our activities make our routines, and that you get to pick which ones you want. You can pick being grumpy and staying home eating your buggers in your misery or you can tie your shoelaces and go look for a place to do what you like.  When you move you change your environment and it is very likely that your activities and routines will change, but you have to make the best out of it either by re-adapting your routine using the available activities and resources that you have there or substituting activities that you can no longer do for others that you can do.

Why a website about Reverse Culture Shock?

Welcome back home!

If you are at this website you probably know by personal experience that Reverse Culture Shock SUCKS!! It does, a lot, actually. But hey, you have come to the right place, a supportive environment to all returnee expats that are experiencing different RCS symptoms. It doesn’t matter what your case looks like, we got resources and ideas for you to make your life easier and make you feel better.

Please email me all your concerns, questions and ideas at howtosurvivercs@gmail.com, I want to serve you by addressing these issues and finding solutions to them, together. Feel free to check out our many  videos and stories from fellow returnee expats. I hope you find this place useful in your own re-adjusting process and that it helps you put together a plan that works for you in your re-adaptation process. Don’t forget to come back often for updates and more useful resources as well as moral support from our community!

Supportively and understandingly,

Elena