#MyReentryStory

Re-Entry Reality: It Happens to Everyone

RR-Interview

 

It’s Re-Entry Reality Monday! I’ve gotten such a great response to this series (thank you!) that I’m going to continue it. Would you like to share your Re-Entry Reality? Contact me – I’d love to talk with you!

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I got to know McKay Roozen at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and have been following her current adventure teaching in rural China. McKay is a recent UNC grad who hopes to focus on education and social entrepreneurship in the future.

McKay, where did you go abroad and what did you do there?me on mountain

Most recently, I have been living in a rural village in Yunnan, China as an English teacher since July 2012. Beyond that, I have spent a lot of time in China over the past two years, studying abroad twice, doing research and traveling.

I traveled quite a bit as a kid and have visited over 30 countries since I was 11. I also trained as a professional ballet dancer in Italy, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.

When did the idea of re-entry get on your radar?

When I came back from my longest stint traveling alone in 2011, I realized it was becoming harder to adjust to life back home. I really missed my friends abroad in addition to the experiences and the life I lived there. Before this, though I had traveled quite a bit, I hadn’t realized that re-entry was even a thing.

At the time, I was working for Cate at Carolina Navigators and through talking with her, I realized some of the “angst” I was feeling in the months after my return was a result of re-entry.

What was your re-entry experience like?

After traveling alone for eight months in 2011, you can imagine how excited I was to be back home among family and friends. But it was very frustrating for me to not be “happy” when I was at home. It felt like something was wrong with me for not being satisfied with the experience being over.

I’m the type of person who really tries to be “present” and being so nostalgic about the past was difficult for me. After a few months, I began to normalize. Once I recognized what I was feeling as re-entry and let myself work through it, I was much more at ease about how I was feeling.

Most recently, when I came back to the states after my first semester teaching in China, it was a much different experience. I knew I was only going to be in America for a few weeks before I went back, so I really tried to take everything in.

While at home, I was pretty shocked at how much I changed. I began to challenge my previous habits and question why things were done a certain way. A lot of things felt frivolous.

Rather than being concerned by this, I just understood it as a sign that my life in China was very different than my life in America and that it was ok to feel this way. I think it also helped to know that I would be going back to China soon.

What do you know *now* about re-entry that you wish you’d known earlier?

I wish I had known that it happens to everyone, even me. Given how much I traveled, I thought I was immune to it, but on the contrary, I can’t escape it. I think if I had accepted it, I would have dealt with it better.

What tips do you have for others who are about to go through re-entry?

If you’re going through re-entry, I would advise you to really try to process what you’re feeling. Understanding what you experience after your trip is as much a part of the trip as the sightseeing. Re-entry helps you recognize how your trip impacted you and your life and how you can accept it as such.

And just for fun…if re-entry were a food what would it be? Why?

Well, it’s not really a food, but I would say re-entry is very much like a tea bag. At first when you get off the plane, the feeling is very light and happy, just like when you first put tea in hot water.

As time goes on and you get back to your “life,” re-entry keeps seeping through you and becomes stronger as time goes on. Whether, you take the bag out early, or leave it in for a unique flavor, you will never go back to plain water.

Thanks, McKay!
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Pre-order the Re-Entry Reality: Your Guide to Re-Launching Yourself After Being Abroad workbook and support group by April 2, 2013 and I will donate all proceeds to help a high school student study abroad! Click here to check it out.

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About Author

Hello, I'm Dr. Cate Brubaker! Are you a returnee who has been surprised to find your return "home" harder than going abroad? I created the Re-entry Roadmap workbook just for you. If you work with returnees, I'm here to help you with innovative resources and training that will make it easier to provide meaningful support for your returnees.