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Living Abroad

Coming Home After Living Overseas

After 10 years in Dubai, Oman, and Norway, I thought coming home would be easy. I was wrong. After 20 months back home I hit rock bottom.

We were poised to move into our own home and at last begin to put down our roots. If we had been abroad we’d have been prepared to move on by now, but here we were contemplating settling in.

While we were away I had forged a career as a journalist, a computer trainer, maker of chutney, and creator of Christmas tree decorations out of local produce—all this with a language barrier and a handful of work permit problems. Fitting in back home should have been a piece of cake.

But when I offered my services at a local training company, placed ads in the local newspaper, sent out resumes, and made monthly trips to London, nothing came of it but a lot of raised eyebrows at my unusual attitude.

I joined the PTA, helped out (for free) with the village newsletter, ran a video library in the school, published and self-marketed two books. But still the work refused to roll in.

The day I hit rock bottom was the day I started my ascent. All that hard work paid off.

Going home can be the hardest move of all. Relationships take much longer to establish, both professional and personal. Instead of being an exotic fish in a small pond, you are a minnow in an ocean. Add that to the fact that you are completely taken over by purchases and payments. You could turn to the bottle or a therapist, but if you can absorb the fact that going home takes time and that re-entry shock can be bigger than culture shock, you can make it!

Today, 23 months into our return, I can hear the larks singing over my garden. I can walk to the village school to collect my boys, or ask Granny to do it for me if I’m busy. Tonight the Women in Business Society meets at my house—the house with our furniture and the paint, curtains, and crockery that we chose. And, just for an hour or two, I’m that big fish again. At last it feels like home and nothing will make me want to leave—not for awhile anyway.

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