The personal story of two expats
We grow tremendously as expatriate, learning new aspects about ourselves, our host country, its people, what works and what does not work. This makes change somewhat challenging as the assignment comes to an end when we are facing repatriation to our home country. While overseas we expand. Once we repatriate we find ourselves back in the same familiar setting which, no matter how big it may be geographically, can seem small. Two different approaches towards repatriation are being shared here.
Nancy – the adventurous type
During a recent coaching session with one of my expatriate clients an upcoming transition was the focus. As expatriates Nancy and her husband have been on the move for the last 12+ years with assignments in Kuwait, Sudan and Nigeria. Nancy was telling me about the preparations for their next and final move to Vienna, Austria, “I’m not sure how this move will affect us. We have had a comfortable life on-the-go and been very nomadic. These have been exciting times” she said with a pensive look. I agreed with her “as an expatriate, it’s often much more comfortable for us to be in a transition mode instead of settling down and forming roots.”
Nancy and her husband are putting a twist into repatriation. They are UK nationals but have decided that they will settle down and ultimately retire in Vienna. After our conversation she realized that the best way for her to mentally prepare for the move is to treat it as another expatriate adventure.
John – the nomad
John recently completed a four-year assignment abroad and was repatriated back to his home country of the United States. Every time he is asked by family and friends if it is good to be home he finds himself stumbling over words saying something like “yeah, uh, I think so. It’s good to be back.” Each time he listens to himself speak he realizes that he doesn’t sound convincing. He understands that people don’t quite relate to what he is saying. Truly, he doesn’t even know what he is saying.
What John does know is that he feels more comfortable on the move. He misses the overseas adventures, fruit-flavored smoke of the Middle Eastern shisha cafes, unusual circumstances and all the trials and tribulations that went along with his assignment. At first being back home was a nice break, but now it is predictable. Recently he has started working virtually and aims to work from several international locations this year. John recognizes that the nomadic lifestyle suits him and, while not a textbook expatriate, he is keeping the aspects he enjoys. The comfort of a home base and travel, new cultures and overseas adventures are now all a part of his life.
For Nancy, her move to Austria is shaping up perfectly. She and her husband have family in Vienna, a place to stay and good leads on initial prospects for employment. But, she said, with a smile, this is still an expat move in her mind.
If you are an expatriate how would you handle repatriation? Would you prefer to continue living abroad, return back to your home country or design a hybrid version like John?
Scott Masciarelli, ACC, BCC is a certified professional coach and accomplished leader with extensive professional experience worldwide where he led multicultural teams in a global workplace. Scott works with corporate leaders, business professionals and international travelers who are looking for success on their own terms. He is a multilingual avid traveler who leads clients on transformational adventures in personal leadership. See Scott’s professional page.