My own re-entry experiences – Part 2

It’s time for part 2 of my own re-entry experiences. It took me a while to sit down to write this piece, but here it comes. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, it’s best to start there.

Re-entry #2

I emigrated to Chile when I was 25. I wanted to finally venture out into the world again and know if I could make it on my own. I gave up my small apartment in Hamburg and flew to Santiago de Chile with just two suitcases, a work contract in my pocket and a one-way ticket. It was a great adventure with a wealth of experiences, professional challenges and wonderful new friends. And although I ultimately only stayed for a year, it was probably the year abroad that has shaped me most profoundly. It unfortunately ended with a tragic accident in which one of our friends died and my closest friend was seriously injured. We buried our friend and I took care of my other friend. I remember this time as very traumatic. When she was stable again, I returned to Germany. However, the reason for returning so soon was actually another: love!  

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

That’s how it was with me and my (now) husband. I don’t want to unfold our whole love story on the internet so let’s just say as much as is relevant to this article: I was on cloud nine that we were together! In the meantime, he had moved to Remagen in the Rhineland and I moved in directly with him after my return. The emotional chaos was pre-programmed. A mixture of parting pain, accident trauma, loss of a friend, being madly in love, moving in together for the first time, re-entry blues, settling in a new region and job hunting.  

For months I mourned

I cried and mourned my adventurous, self-determined, free life in Chile, the person I was in Chile, our deceased friend, dear friends, the daily view of the Andes (la cordillera), the Pisco Sour, “pebre” and “machas a la parmesana”, the daily Spanish speaking, the Latin American way of life, the climate, the music, my apartment, my jeep, … I missed it all so much, even though I didn’t want to go back. At the time I didn’t understand myself and I wondered very much why this phase of mourning lasted so long. I was happily in love – I could spend every day with the man of my life! I was alive, healthy and unharmed. Shouldn’t I be more grateful and leave the past behind? It was only one year! But looking back, it was very healing that I allowed myself to grieve in the way and time I needed. Soon I found a great job that brought me a big step forward in my career. I enjoyed a good number of exciting business trips, great colleagues and fun carnival experiences. Although everything was going well in my partnership and my job, I always felt this longing inside me for faraway countries and exciting new adventures. This time, however, please with my husband!  

" Feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavor and human creations." – Albert Einstein

I have often thought about longing. Longing and wanderlust – two constant companions that sometimes make life in the here and now so difficult. Those who have friends and family in different parts of the world always live a little bit in the “there”, in the yesterday and in the tomorrow – and not seldom in the “in between”.  

Floating between worlds

The re-entry experience is a transition experience, a phase of “no longer” and “not yet”. The transition period is a phase of uncertainty and may test us to see how many mixed feelings we can endure. But it also invites us to recalibrate. Therein lies the power of re-entry. We may use this opportunity to reorient ourselves. Which of my values and beliefs have changed? What has been added? How have I grown from the experience abroad? How can I integrate that into my life after my return? What do I no longer want? And – we’re allowed to take how ever much time it’s going to take.

My takeaways from the year in Chile? Above all resilience, self-efficacy, self-confidence, self-knowledge and humility towards the fragility of life. During this time, it became very clear who and what truly matters to me in life.


Catalyst for important life themes

As a coach, I have now accompanied numerous repatriates and I experience time and again that re-entry serves as a catalyst for fundamental personal life issues. Themes that we were able to sugarcoat or repress during our shiny and exciting expat life now have the urge to surface with all their might.  

6 tips for re-entry:

From my own experiences and what I have learned and observed as a coach, I have once more derived 6 top tips for re-entry:

  1. Things often turn out differently than you think. Always expect the unexpected, also during re-entry.
  2. Allow yourself to grieve the goodbyes and give yourself the time you need.
  3. You can be happy and sad at the same time, one does not take anything away from the other.
  4. Re-entry means floating between worlds for some time and that’s ok.
  5. Become aware of your personal growth and use this potential for your future vision.
  6. Tackle important life issues courageously, now is the time.

If you would like support with your own re-entry, I offer individual coaching as well as a group coaching program. Feel free to contact me for a free discovery call or choose an appointment directly from my calendar.

Re-entry coaching

If you would like support with your own re-entry, I invite you to contact me for a free discovery call.

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