I read a post on culture shock over at Almost American and had an "Aha!" moment. Several of them actually.
As I looked over the stages of emotional well being while being abroad for an extended period ... pre-departure ups and downs, the honeymoon, acute homesickness, and finally adaptation, I was shaking my head like Bill Gates at a meeting.
Yes, we always have loads of emotional ups and downs right before a big move. Some days I would cry because we were leaving family and friends, and others I would be so excited that I would have a smile permanently planted on my face.
This is not to mention everything related to the logistical part of the move -- giving notice, renting the house, packing, booking flights, etc. I remember having a working "to do" list with about 150 items on it (really).
We also had the honeymoon period. Our last move was from La Jolla to the UK almost two years ago (remember that summer with really bad weather???) and I had stored up so much sunshine from three years in San Diego that even the bad weather didn't get me down. I was ecstatic with my new surroundings.
Yes, I got homesick. I remember calling my best San Diego buddy at 3 am when I couldn't sleep. You sort of ease slowly out of your last "life" into your new one, and of course you miss it. Sorely.
Then adaptation. Finally no more whining. The kids are settled in school. I can find things at Tesco now. I have some friends. The weather? Well at least it gives you something to talk about.
Repatriating is like a replay of the first stages. Ups and downs of the impending move, initial excitement at being home, missing the other culture, and then adoption.
I've decided that I'm in a perpetual state of culture shock. I am a citizen of both the US and UK, and we move between the two often. On any given day I can be really homesick, missing another culture, excited by a new find, or just getting on with it.
This post was written by Susanna, an Expat Mums Blog founding contributor. You can read more at her blog, A Modern Mother.
Photo credit: monkeyc