Once an Expat Always an Expat?

Life sails swiftly as on butterflies' wings.

I’m sitting here in sunny southern California right now. The air is crisp and clear. The sky is blue. I’m surrounded by pine trees, birds and squirrels. I’ve been spending time with family and friends and I’ve been loving it. Anyone who has lived overseas and then gone home again knows this wonderful feeling. I’ve been home for one week now and I wish this time could last forever. But I know it can’t. Eventually we all have to get back to work. Or find a job. Or go back to school. Or….move back overseas?

To settle in or go back abroad, that’s the question

As anyone who has truly been bitten by the wanderlusting, travel-loving, expat-life-living bug knows, it’s really hard to imagine settling back down in your home country after you’ve been abroad for a while. And yet, a big part of me wants to be able to do that. At the same time, a part of me wants just a little bit longer to enjoy this nomadic, adventure-filled life. It’s almost impossible to describe just how conflicted my soul feels about this. But I know that I am not alone in this. I know that there are many others out there just like me. Living abroad is like one huge adventure wrapped up with a bow of excitement, adrenaline, fear, trepidation, exploration, and more fun-filled moments than you can possibly describe. And anyone who has experienced that knows just how hard it is to give it up.

Expat life is the good life

Being able to live overseas and experience things that most people only ever dream about, is incredible. Not every moment overseas is incredible, of course. A lot of times there are more frustrations than can be counted. But the good so far outweighs the bad. The expat life is one that seeps into your soul and infiltrates every part of your being. It seems almost impossible to ever separate the two again. You will forever be impacted by your expat journey and there is no going back to what life was like before.  You do your best to blend in and adapt to life back home, but truly you can’t go back.

Is it possible to truly settle back in again?

But this begs the question, can I ever really give up this expat life to settle back into a normal routine again? If I’m honest, this worries me a bit. I want to be able to settle back into a normal American life again. I want to be content and happy here. To be able to do all the “normal” American things again. I miss them. At least sometimes I do. But how can I settle down and work a normal 9-5 job again when the hills and mountains and lakes and cities of a thousand foreign and exciting places are calling to me? How do you ever truly settle into a “normal” routine again after living overseas? I think about questions like this all the time. Being an expat is an amazing experience, and I’m so thankful for all the years I’ve had overseas. But it definitely does make choices for the future incredibly difficult. Who knows where the path ahead will lead? But I know one thing, my heart will always belong to a dozen different cities around the world, no matter where I live.

Have you repatriated permanently? How did you adjust? What helped?