Re-Entry 101

Reverse Culture Shock After Being Abroad Got You Down?

Whether you’re a career expat, a Fulbright scholar, high school or college study abroad student, Peace Corps volunteer, perpetual nomad, intern, volunteer, international school teacher, etc, your return home will likely be THE hardest part of your entire living abroad experience! 

You wouldn’t think that returning home, to the familiar, would be so difficult, right?

But for most people it is.

And, unfortunately, most returnees unknowingly let re-entry work against them – sometimes for years – simply because they don’t know how to make re-entry work FOR them. (Been there, done that!)

The result?

Unhappiness, anxiety, depression, isolation, disconnection, strained or lost relationships, career frustration, identity crises…so much more.

That’s why I started Small Planet Studio, launched our Facebook community, created the Re-entry Roadmap (and later the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit) — all of which have helped thousands of returnees all over the world navigate re-entry with greater insight, meaning, and ease.

After muddling through my own multiple re-entries, unknowingly adding more and more re-entry rocks to my re-entry backpack that increasingly weighed me down and caused so much pain, I decided to find a better way for us all.

Building on personal experience, my PhD research, and 20+ years working in international education and intercultural training, I’ve spent the past several years digging into the re-entry experience and research, writing books and articles, hosting webinars and online summits, leading Re-entry Roadmap groups and workshops, coaching clients, creating custom re-entry programs for organizations, and presenting my ideas at conferences – all in order to figure out what actually works in re-entry.

So if you’re struggling in re-entry, whether a little or a lot, rest assured that you’re not alone and you’re not doing anything wrong!

It’s not your fault that re-entry often feels surprisingly bewildering and isolating. I remember feeling so alone in my own re-entries (read my re-entry story here) and just muddling through the best I could until I could go abroad again.

Fortunately, you no longer have to muddle through on your own!

At SPS, we believe it’s time to…

  • change our collective relationship with re-entry
  • stop skipping over the parts of re-entry that actually yield the greatest insight, meaning, and fuel for your Forward Launch
  • help returnees turn re-entry into a powerful, transformation experience

With the right tools, mindset, and community, you can transform re-entry into a positive force in your life. We’re here to help you make re-entry the most powerful part of your entire living abroad journey!

Get Our FREE Re-entry Guide!

Click here to get our free guide for re-entry!

Welcome…Home?

Imagine waking up every morning excited about what’s ahead. Confident that your best days are still to come in your life and career. Feeling meaningfully connected to the people, places, and activities most important to you.

Unfortunately, if you’re in re-entry after living abroad you probably don’t feel that way right now.

Instead, you probably feel sad. Tired. Frustrated. Disconnected.

Missing the home you created abroad. Wondering if you really belong in your home country anymore. Lacking purpose or direction. Feeling like you’re going backwards. Wondering why “home” doesn’t feel like home anymore. And why everything that used to be familiar and comforting is now so very strange.

Everything you’re feeling, thinking, and questioning? Rest assured, it’s all normal!

Re-entry (or repatriation, as some people call it) is a deeply emotional, often disorienting, and sometimes alienating experience. Re-entry pokes at your insecurities, stirs up complex questions about identity and belonging, and often prompts you to re-think relationships, career, and sometimes your whole life.

The good news? While it may not feel like it now, re-entry is a unique opportunity for developing the self-knowledge that will propel you forward into an even better life than the one you lived abroad (even if your plan is to live abroad again).

That’s why I created The Re-entry Roadmap, a five-step process for navigating re-entryHere are the five steps ( you can read more about each one here):

  1. Identify your emotions
  2. Reframe re-entry
  3. Unpack your re-entry backpack
  4. Find your Global Life Ingredients
  5. Create your Forward Launch!

Whether you’ve been abroad for a few months or several years, were living, studying, volunteering or working abroad, whether you plan to stay in your home country long-term or want to move abroad again, The Re-entry Roadmap will help you gain the insight needed to answer the questions your global heart is asking you, and then use those answers to keep you moving forwards in your life, career, relationships, and travel!

About Author

Dr. Cate Brubaker is on a mission to make re-entry after living abroad a positive, transformational force (even when it’s not easy…especially when it’s not easy)! Cate is the author of the Re-Entry Roadmap workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 37 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.