Expatriation & Repatriation
Living abroad can be a rewarding experience but it also involves arriving in a place where life was already going on before we joined it. Are you finding it difficult adapting to a new country or finding the language and culture a barrier? Do you feel like you don’t quite belong? It doesn’t matter if you’ve just arrived or if you’ve been living there for many years. Sometimes these difficulties don’t disappear, and the anxiety they generate gets bigger.
As expats feeling anxious is a normal part of the process of adaptation and a helpful tool for the achievement of new goals, but, what is normal anxiety and when does it become something we need to take more seriously?
Anxiety is a human experience and very present when change happens in our lives. It can be described as apprehension or worry often accompanied by physical and psychological symptoms, and it can be triggered by an external or an internal conflict. If apprehension from living in a new country is persistent or too intense, or if it is interfering with the enjoyment or effectiveness in living, then we need to consider it a more serious type of anxiety.
I help people identify the reasons that make it difficult to adapt to their new situation, and find ways to integrate to their new life. Acknowledging the feelings of loss with regards to a former country or identity is another important step of my process and a good foundation to build from.
Going back to a country left a long time ago can be as difficult as moving to a new place all together. This is why some long-term expats can’t adjust to a new life in their old home and struggle with what is known as reverse culture shock. They have returned to their country of origin but feel unable to pick up where they left off.
Long absences can unsettle a person’s sense of identity and repatriates appear to be unprepared for the psychological distress and discomfort that can happen when they return home.
As with other psychological challenges, seeking professional help sooner rather than later can make a big difference. Regardless if the person is struggling with cultural differences, the language barrier, an unsatisfactory social life or homesickness I can help in the process of adapting or re-adapting to social and cultural environments.