You may be away on your exotic teaching stint abroad for “only” a year or perhaps your adventures take you away from your home country for longer. Some of you may even stay on and let the roots take a deep hold in the foreign soil which you now call home anyway….For some of you the time might be around the corner when you have to starting thinking of relocating back home.
I was away from my home turf for more than 16 years – edging onto being about half of my life, give or take, but being precise would be telling you far too much about my age. The winding path of my wonderings lead me through tourism, random jobs of manual description, back to tourism, through the fruitful fields of photography finally into the realms of teaching English. Leaving the beer soaked home land behind in 2004 I roamed for years through Asia, settled temporarily in Australia and New Zealand and then finally lived 8 long years in the Kingdom of Wonder – Cambodia. When the expiry date on the can of my sanity was up I retraced my steps back to the land of beer and dumplings earlier this year. A big and bold move as judged by many, but I found this resettlement smooth enough, perhaps oiled up and eased off by the said beer, but there are challenges when it comes to finding the path back to the place you once called home.
I am by no means a returning expert, more an amateur really – the fact that during those 16 years I visited my parents maybe 5 times should speak for itself. Nonetheless, here are just some aspects you should consider if you happen to find yourself in similar shoes (or worn out sandals if you must).
Let’s face it: weather is one of the main driving factors for people to seek jobs abroad; follow the sun, drive into the sunset, living the dream life… so if the time has come for you to come back home, think about the season that your fellow countrymen are enduring at the time of your planned return. If you’ve just spent the best summer near amazing beaches and you are about to hit the home turf in the middle of post Christmas depression of the northern hemisphere, then maybe think again and see if you can plan things better and take care of acclimatisation properly. And if your home happens to be one of those sunny places? Well, lucky you. I am coming with you. From the hot dust bowl of the Cambodian dry season I found myself right in the middle of blossoming cherry orchards and soft spring breeze, fluffily white clouds and long sunny days – the perfect way of a grand re-entry to land of my origins. Few months later, with autumn now clinging to the windows trying desperately to get in, I am sitting here fully wrapped in a thick fluffy dressing gown and a pair of honest woollen socks. Winter is on its way and I don’t know how to process this fact.
Family and friends
If you’ve been away for a considerable amount of time it’s likely that your parents will still include you in the their will and may even recognise you, but your friends may have moved on. In fact, we all move on at all times so prepare yourself for little disappointments here and there, where those with family commitments may not always want to dash out for coffee/beer/wine just like you’re used to or their priority may not be listening to your endless stories of carefree life in a far-flung country which they would struggle to find on the map. You’ve changed and lived an amazing life, they’ve changed too and lived their own amazing lives, so no hard feelings. You are now the master of making new friends and may as well apply all the learned tricks to create a new, fresh circle of friends around you. If you’ve move to another city like I did, then you really have no other option than to go out and see who’s out there and what mischief you can get up to together. And those good old ones who stay? Thank god for them!
Job and paperwork
Hopefully you are less slack than I am and have all your paperwork in good working order. Make sure you are up to date with your insurance and social security commitments, there is nothing like the red tape after all. I am currently facing a mini nightmare of my own which I am not going to get you involved in because I am nice. It includes paperwork and you have just fallen asleep. Oh, and have you found a job in your home country yet? I hope so, because I have! I am teaching English to adults and photography is resting somewhere, waiting for my Muse to return, fully recharged. I think she went on holiday somewhere warm and sunny.
After long years of living out of backpacks and suitcases, in tents, in vans and caravans, in motel and hotel rooms and other accommodation of questionable quality I am now settled, ever so grateful for my own spoons, cups and fluffy bed sheets (among other things of course) which I lovingly wash and hang myself and I appreciate the fact that I no longer have to deal with the “Karma Laundry” of Cambodia – you get what you deserve. Often other peoples’ items would find their way to my laundry bag washed by the little lady downstairs. I believe many (or most) of you have rather civilised experiences of living and working abroad, however there is no place like home. Home is where you can fit more than one pair of boots. Five to be precise.
You must have realised by now that I am not to be taken seriously and the above is just some rambling of a crazy woman who’s euphoric that she’s back where she feels she belongs. During my times away on the road I found no effort in settling anywhere for long or short period of time and immediately felt like home wherever there was a bed waiting for me at the end of the day. Adaptable is my second name.
I trust you are all nicely settled in your new jobs and locations now that September is almost over and the new school year is running like a well oiled machine.