I just got home from a 2.5 week workation in London and I’m going through re-entry. It’s not the what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-get-me-out-of-here variety of re-entry by any means, but it’s still re-entry. It’s more of a blaaaaaaahhh kind of re-entry. I’m in an I’m-ok-with-being-home-but-would-much-rather-take-a-nap-than-tackle-my-to-do-list-funk kind of re-entry.
Since arriving home a couple days ago I’ve paid attention to the things I’ve done – and the things I realize I should have done – to make re-entry a smoother experience. My goal isn’t to avoid or ignore re-entry; rather, it’s to take advantage of the learning opportunity it presents. I tend to get mopy in re-entry, and I’ve learned that doing these seven things helps me make re-entry less of a moping experience and more of a learning experience:
- Unpack. I am an unpacking procrastinator. I hate unpacking and tend to put it off as long as possible. But I’ve come to realize that I feel less mopy when I don’t have a mess of clothes, shoes, and souvenirs strewn all over my floor. Imagine that.
- Remember gratitude. It sounds so cliche to say this but it works for me. When I start to feel less than excited about being back home, I remind myself to focus on being grateful that I was able to go abroad in the first place. Gratitude keeps me in a frame of mind that is open to learning.
- Slow down. I typically stay abroad until the last possible second, even if that means diving back into life the second I’m home and playing catch-up for two weeks. This time I decided to try something different in an attempt to have a smoother re-entry: I flew home on a Friday so I’d have the weekend to get myself together. The day after I came home I slept in and then lazed around the house with my husband and some take-out. We caught up on Downton Abbey and with each other. It was perfect, and a great reminder that allowing myself a little time to rest and relax can do wonders in transitioning to being back home.
- Dive in. At the same time, I find it does help if I jump right back into life. After a day of lounging around the house in my pajamas, it felt great to get up early, go grocery shopping, and get ready for the week. Diving back into life helps me focus on what’s coming up, rather than being stuck in the recent past.
- Reflect. I’m naturally a highly reflective person, so this one is easy for me. Sometimes I journal, sometimes I sort through my photos, and sometimes I process my experiences abroad while grocery shopping or going for a walk.
- (Re)Connect. One of the reasons I loved my day of lounging around the house is because I spent it with my husband. Even though we stay in touch via email, texting, and Skype when I’m away, it was so nice to set aside time to reconnect in person before things got busy again. Reconnecting with people makes me remember why I like living where I do.
- Integrate. One final thing I do is incorporate my favorite things from abroad into my life back home. On my last two trips to the UK, for example, I realized how much I love having a nice breakfast and drinking tea with milk in the morning. So, I’m now making an effort to enjoy breakfast with tea as many mornings as I can.
I’d love to hear what you do to make re-entry a smoother experience. What are your strategies?