A lot of “travellers” talk of reverse culture shock on returning home after taking off to travel, while others just fear coming home all together. It’s as if returning home means coming home defeated, destined to fall back into your old ways and never re-adjusting. I’ve gone back and forth on the dilemma for a while now given I’ve returned to my beloved Australia and to be honest I just don’t get it.
Living abroad had a resounding effect on me and is something I’ll forever cherish and could very well do again, but I don’t see why it has to all of a sudden end when you return to your home country. After all many of us come from amazing countries in their own right. Australia is essentially the size of Europe, so coming home still leaves me a whole bunch of places to go and explore that I’ve never been before.
So why can’t I just become an expat in my own country?
Coming home is only depressing if you let it be and intend to go back to the life you had before. Unless you’ve kept in touch with friends, work colleagues, your boss etc then trying to fit back into that mould you left is always going to be difficult. Even then it’s not going to be the same so my advice is to not even try.
Instead of looking at it from the negative try to treat it as a positive to continue your traveling way of life. I’ve outlined a few things I’ve done to make the move to becoming an expat at home a far more enjoyable experience.
- Instead of moving back to the town/city you left move to a different state or part of the country. I moved across the country to Western Australia after growing up in Victoria and it’s a completely different experience. The weather, the people, the scenery is a complete flip on what I was used to.
- Getting a job is perhaps the most depressing part of coming home as you will most likely be returning rather poor. In your travels though you’ve most likely worked a few different jobs, maybe look at continuing one of those on your return. A LOT of us travel to get out of our cubicle job so going back to it would be a horrible thought for many. I used to do that so instead created my own business and now work for myself. It’s a million times more rewarding and I get to work my hours and make my office wherever I have internet. It’s also something I’d never have done had I not taken off and travelled solo to begin with.
- Just like you made friends taking tours and staying in hostels/hotels abroad do the same at home. I’m surprised by the number of activities or tours I’ve never taken in my own country. I can hop a plane to Sydney, Melbourne or take the train into Perth and take a walking tour while staying in a hostel and enjoy the same experience while I was in Europe. Alternatively give up your couch to a couchsurfer so you can bring the travellers to you and play tour guide in your new home.
- Perhaps the biggest change I’d made on coming home is to not look at everything like I did before. I took Australia for granted and never really appreciated just how beautiful my country is. Instead I look at my surroundings like I did exploring Paris, Prague and London and I’ve come to enjoy it so much more. Taking the camera down to the local beach to capture the sunset or while walking around the city can really help you bring out your inner traveller at home.
Now I know it will never be the same as say waking up in your favourite foreign city and dining at that cute cafe you used to frequent. By looking at the return home more as a new destination instead of home I’m sure you’ll be far happier. Just like becoming an expat while abroad you can find ways to bring that life with you at home. And hey if nothing else I’m sure you’ll be making your mum/dad a lot happier knowing you are at least within the same country.
Great post! I did the exact same thing when I moved back to Australia after years living and travelling abroad. Pick a new place, make new friends, take up new hobbies. Going “home” doesn’t have to be the end to adventure. Thanks very much for sharing!
Hi Jazza, thats it mate. Coming home is only as depressing as you make it and by picking a new place to live and taking up new hobbies or a new job you can turn it into a much happier time and completely forget you have come home.
I love this post. I felt exactly the same after my last holiday – how silly that I will do things in another country and I won’t do at home. It inspired me to start my blog about trying to see more in my area! There is so much to see in Australia, no matter where you live.
Hi Lucinda, great to hear you are getting more into local travel around our great country. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve managed to see since getting home.
Great post! Sounds like your travels were truly life-changing—and that doesn’t change when you’re at home.
Thanks for the tips!
Are you living in Perth now? That’s our hometown! Welcome 🙂 Will def have to catch up when we come back at the end of the year – will you still be there? I bet you’re enjoying the weather after Victoria(!)
I totally agree with this post. When we go back at the end of the year, we plan on visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. We haven’t explored our own country nearly enough.
Hi Carmen, yep WA is home now for the foreseeable future so will have to catch up for a beer or two when you make it over.
I felt the same way moving back to the US
this is a great perspective. a lot of people have fear of coming home to the same, familiar routine. The US is a huge country like Australia, and it’s extremely easy to find a job in another part. for those that need to come back and settle down a bit, this is great advice.
I’ve lived in New York City for ten years and I’m always challenging myself to stop sitting around in my apartment and go be a tourist in my own town. There’s always something new to discover, especially with the turnover of storefronts and constantly evolving neighborhoods.
I completely understand what you mean, especially with point 4. Although I haven’t lived abroad, I know the feeling of being completely romanticised by the beauty of the countries you’ve just visited, but so often we forget to appreciate whats in our own back yard! I live in Perth,WA too and can vouch for its beauty and individuality 🙂 Great post!
Thanks for the great post. It’s triggered a lot of feelings, but actually, I never had that dreaded, I -have-to-go-home feeling after long trips away. I guess it was always the right time to return. What’s worse is when you really do have to go back – you’ve run out of money or a family member is ill – and you’re just not ready. I got back to Melbourne nearly two years ago from three years in China and I’m now really feeling the need to head off again. I’m planning a trip for next year, but in the meantime I’ve been doing just what you suggest and being a tourist in my own hometown! It’s about seeing with different eyes. Xavier de Maistre travelled around his bedroom and wrote about it in 1794. Yep, a little extreme maybe, but still, what an imagination! You can read about it in Alain de Botton’s Árt of Travel’. Cheers!
the one thing I found was that my internal compass had to readjust. I think the melancholy involved is perfectly natural – as when we travel we are in a heightened state of awareness for long periods of time. conceiving new physical and emotional experiences on a daily basis. Our daily lives within society remove us from the physicality of living and sometimes it takes a while to readjust to the mundane.
I moved home to Sydney last year after living in Texas for 20 years. So much of Sydney has changed in that time and it’s completely different than the place I left. Friends and family have changed, moved on or passed away. The only thing that reminds me I’m FROM here is I sound the same as everyone else ( most of the time). I honestly feel as if I’m ‘still travelling’. I’m re-discovering Australia with my American family, as they discover a lot of it for the first time.
Tara, thats the greatest thing I’ve taken out of coming home. I’m exploring it and seeing everyting in a different light. While I wasn’t away for anywhere near as long as you I can imagine that feeling of getting to know a place all over again.
I still have about 9 months left of my UK visa and don’t want to leave! You definitely highlighted some stuff to look forward to but I still don’t want to leave haha! You’ve probably had it about a million times but I’ve nominated you for a liebster award coz I wouldn’t have been able to make it over here without your advice on the blog. Thanks mate! 🙂
Hey Chad, that 9 months is going to run out very quickly so enjoy it while you have it mate. Thanks for the nomination and kind words as well, knowing I’ve helped someone out makes it all worth the late nights and hours of work.
I know exactly how you feel.
Changes not only in places the people you knew before as well.
Travelling the world for a spell has its pro’s and cons.
Great post! This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot, as I have 6 months left in Scotland before I move home to Australia.
I am doing something different to shake up the dynamic too – I’m bringing home my boyfriend. After staying resolutely single in Australia and hoping to travel solo in the UK, I ended up (accidentally) meeting the love of my life two months after I landed!
So my question is now… do you know of any bloggers who do what you do from the other side? Your blog was an incredible help to me in organising my visa for the UK and getting ready to move abroad. Now I’m looking at trying to sort out a partner visa and help my boyfriend move to Australia and it’s really daunting, but we want to do it ourselves. Mostly I’m after the sort of real-life experiences and timeframes and tips I got from your posts and your readers here. Any ideas?
Appreciate any help!