I recently started reading a book called “the art of coming home” recommended online by a fellow expat returnee. Within the first few chapters I realised just how much the world prepares you to move abroad but how little there is on returning.
Upon moving to London there were so many companies, one being britbound, there to support you every step of the way. You need help with your visa application? Done, they can do it for you. You need a place to stay on arrival? They will sort that. Friends? They have organised parties for all new arrivals. Bank account? Set up for you. NIN? Also taken care of.
I didn’t buy this package and didn’t have this support and I did find it difficult getting set up as I didn’t know any one. But even still this return home is still way harder and I don’t see a Brit bound returnee package that I totally would have been up for.
The book also made me realise how if you were to move overseas for work, there are so many added incentives. For example you can basically work for yourself, and usually get great bonuses. When it comes to moving back home, you go back to being beneath large figure heads and the money is reduced.
So much money, thoughts and support is put into your move abroad, but nothing is ever spoken about the reversal. The expected is to silently return to your old life, make your now square self fit into your old round hole that you left behind, hope that your previous friends haven’t moved on, and just ignore the fact that they aren’t interested in why you were MIA for years. And I guess because of this silence, your memories turn into a distant dream.
And as this book also has said, it’s not only the returnee that will face changes.
The family of those welcoming back loved ones and how must they feel to welcome back a person not so ecstatic to be back themselves. For my parents, they have had all kids out of home now and quite far away and have adjusted to there next chapter. I remember growing up after dinner time, mum would turn the kitchen light off and that would mean that the “kitchen was closed”. It’s a bit like this; the house has been done up, dad’s semi retired and they too have moved on to their next stage of life, signalling the closing of that raising children chapter. But then the child bounces back to town except I will have to continue adulting- something I haven’t done at home yet.
And same with friends? How must they feel trying to understand and support their somewhat changed friend and welcome them back to the bubble but at the same time being in their own already busy happening bubble.
Previous returnees who are a few months a head of me in the journey, have advised to not prolong the process. Don’t drag it out. Tie the ends and kiss that last chapter and quickly begin the next. And I know this is probably the best way to do it. I guess it sometimes just isn’t as easy said then done.
To an outsider, that doesn’t understand these feelings of returning or to those that haven’t left somewhere before, it probably sounds like making mountains out of molehills. And I understand that too. I mean it’s not like I’m moving home to a war town.
But think of it like this; we had reasons to move away, and then we found a place that made that unknown empty feeling go away, and now I have to find a spring in my step to go back to a place where happiness was always a bit harder to find. And also knowing that we are only really going back to our hometown so I can finish my last year of university also adds a lot of pressure onto it. Like nursing, you better be worth it. And I know it will be, but man I hope it goes fast this next year. I think the exciting part about leaving a place is not knowing what is ahead of you, but when your returning to familiarity there is a limit to excitement