Lists, lots of them, endless lists of what needs to be done.
Dreams or should I say nightmares about packing / unpacking and running out of time.
Teary lost days not knowing where to start with the immense task that lies ahead. Putting on a brave face to the outside world that is 'all is OK' when inside your brain is totally frazzled.
It’s tough. And so many of us go through this alone as it is these first weeks in a new location when you need your friends the most and yet you have none as you know no-one.
Expatriation and Repatriation are very similar. Except for one major thing. Repatriation takes WAY longer before you feel “settled”. Normally when we have been assigned to a new country, I give us a year to get to that point of feeling settled and happy and with friendships that give your life stability.
Repatriation takes, on average, three years to get to the same point from all I have read. And I am only 3 weeks in. Oh my! That is one long dark tunnel that still needs to be journeyed down.
But luckily, it is not all dark, shafts of light shine through into the tunnel to keep you moving forward. One lovely surprise that buoyed me up was a visit from a great friend from my last location to my new home. It was just what I needed, and I thank her a lot for making the effort to bring her kids out as well.
Connecting the dots of friendships from around the world gives me strength to keep on going. As a result of the email circular that I sent with our new address details, I have reconnected again with friends from other past locations as well, and Skype calls are getting fixed up.
So, slowly slowly does it and during this process I will keep working on the materials that will make your Jump more structured as well. As I feel if you have a structure to follow to get you through these early days of a move, the easier the slide into the new ‘normality’ will be.
My daughter, just turned 11, has now attended 9 schools or daycare since she was born, across 4 countries. I am thankful and proud of her when she says this with pride. But at the same time I can see she is very happy with the thought that this, school number 9, will continue to be her school for the next 5 years. She will start and leave with all the other children. She is enjoying knowing that we have no plans to move on in a few years time. The relationships she makes now can continue in real life for many years. And she is very happy with that thought.
That is why we have repatriated. For now, for our children it is the right thing to do. But for me in my head, I am still a long way off feeling settled. I have taken up some coaching myself to help through this period. Talking things through with someone who ‘gets’ where you are at, really makes the world of difference. One hour each week on the telephone, helping to put in place the stepping stones for progress is what everyone needs. Do not be shy to reach out and ask for the help. You know where I am, I can help you through this, promise.
This time it is Repatriation. Repatriation for me and my husband but for my children.. what term covers them? Expats? Guess not.. Migrants? Maybe.. they have UK passports but they have never lived in the UK before. All is new to them. This has never been their home before. I must not forget that.