The expat life is fabulous, but there is always a beginning and an end. There is also a large amount of self-growth and fabulousness in-between, but for this post, I’ll be focusing on those last few months. I’ve also recently done a post highlighting my most helpful tips for expats (both seasoned and newbies) if you’re more interested in that!
Don’t get any ideas, this post isn’t about me leaving Korea, it’s about realizing I’d like a few more months here. I weighed up the below factors and I realized that I wasn’t ready to leave just yet. You can give it a different cover, but in reality, I’m not ready to go home – but some people are.
Things that make you realize you’re done with the expat life
You want your basics back
In your home country, you’re used to a particular way of doing things and they may be the simple way to YOU but they’re what you’re craving. The language barrier plays a large part in this because people get tired of having to struggle to communicate with those around them. For me, being constantly thrown into the unknown gives me life. Without it, I’m bored. People start to want their drive-throughs, the helpers at the stores that pack your bags for you, the garage attendants and even the people you were once annoyed by. You crave the familiar because you’re tired and frustrated.
You miss your friends and family
My family is a huge part of my life in that they remain my constant. For someone who has lived like I have people are just continuously coming and going. It’s like a luggage carousel in an airport but for me, it’s friends and circumstance. People just find themselves in your life, you grow closer and then you part again. You sometimes keep in touch, but for the most part, you just continue with your lives. My family has always been there for me and it’s of great importance that I stay close to them. That’s a little difficult with a sister in South Korea, a brother and sister in England and my folks back home, but I feel myself gravitating towards them more and more. In saying that, I’m not ready to make a single base and be done for life.
For people who’ve had the same group of friends since High School, I completely understand why it would seem that you need to float back home to your nest. Holding onto the idea that ya’ll are going to grow old together brings a lot of people back home from the expat life.
You want a home and a dog
I love making my little apartments look all homey and stuff but I can’t think about setting up a HOME right now. Maybe for a year or two, but I’m not thinking about having a large garden for my kids to run around in. There are, however, many people who believe that time waits for no man (also true) and they need to start playing house immediately. If that pull is too strong, people will often pack up, go home, and buy a house. A lot of them will then crave to be in another country in a few years… but that’s their own struggle to take on. Indecisiveness is not knowing one’s self.
You want to start your career
I totally get this if you have a set career that requires you to be home and putting in a lot of your time. The urge ‘to do more’ with your career is not something that is silenced swiftly. You need to put a lot of energy into making the decision to move home because that urge takes over you life surprisingly quickly. I realized that was my mistake previously with living as an expat, I only had one job (like teaching English) and I wasn’t working on furthering my career. This time around, I have my job, my blog and my marketing work. I feel like I’m making strides in all of them and I’m left feeling accomplished. My advice to expats would be to start something on the side that fulfils you mentally, which brings me to my next point…
You start to resent your job because it’s not fulfilling you intellectually
We’ve got this incessant need to BE MORE and DO MORE. Oh my god, we’re not allowed to BE HAPPY – we need to have STUFF. We need accomplishments. Are you happy slaving fifteen hours a day? No, but society tells me this is THE success!
Anyway, some people need to be feeling like they’re accomplishing more intellectually and like I mentioned above, this is how I previously felt. When I would return home, I’d get a job in my desired field, do well in it and then… Nothing. I felt nothing. No sense of accomplishment or bright lights, I simply just wanted to travel again. So, I decided to continue to be intellectually stimulated whilst living as an expat and I don’t think I’ll ever look back. You need to decide what makes you tick, and if that’s a good enough reason to go home – then do that.
We’re all different dishes made differently with specific desires. It’s time we stopped looking at others and thinking of their opinions when we’re making life decisions. You need to look within yourself and decide what feels right by you. Then, and only then, make the decision to pack up your expat life and return ‘home’.