Helen has lived in Germany and Kyrgyzstan and done re-entry three times under different circumstances. She works with people struggling with their re-entry to help them make sense of it, find confidence in themselves and move towards the next step sure of who they are and what they offer. You’ll find Helen at http://www.wattsyourpathway.co.uk
Hi Helen! Where were you abroad and what did you do there?
Germany for 1 year as a student; Kyrgyzstan for 10 yrs (in two separate blocks) in mission/development
When did the idea of re-entry get on your radar? Did you have any re-entry preparation, training or debriefing?
After Germany I found it really tough readjusting to being back in the UK student environment – I missed everything about Germany – the people, way of life, culture, the courses I took, language. It took me over a year to re-acclimatise, and even then I longed to go back and got a job with a UK company owned by a German one so I could take opportunities to go back.
The first time we came back from Kyrgyzstan (not our choice) we wanted to go back, so despite spending 2.5 yrs here in the UK, my heart was always somewhere else and I never really saw it as a re-entry, more a passing place. We last came back in 2010 and it took a good 18 months to start feeling more settled. We had chosen to come back, but had lived through some pretty stressful situations in our last year away, so in many ways it was a relief to return, but in others we didn’t start to feel like we belonged for a long time.
What was your re-entry experience like?
It’s a process, it takes time, and we need to be kind to ourselves. It’s so easy to say with hindsight and a bit of distance, but just treating ourselves as gently as possible could have really helped.
WHAT’S YOUR #1 TIP FOR THOSE IN RE-ENTRY RIGHT NOW?
Fashioning a new vision for you life back home is really helpful, something you can work towards, to help you through your re-entry. We so often have an aim in going overseas in the first place, and it helps us to push through the hard times. If you fashion something similar for when you come back – a vision, a calling, just a goal for where you’d like to be in a couple of years time – it can help you to be more intentional about putting things in place which move you in that direction and give you more purpose in the transitional space.
Why should global adventurers in re-entry participate in the RELAUNCH! Retreat?
There is so much we can learn from others who are going through or have gone through similar experiences to us. Take advantage of all these people gathered together to help you launch into something new – ask your questions, find new contacts who can help you through the space you are in right now!