The Wall Street Journal’s Expat blog has a lengthy article about expatriates struggling with repatriation (Note: The author also discussed her article in a 30 minute podcast). It was noted that according to research by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, about 12% of expat employees leave the company within a few years of repatriation. Part of the problem though is that HR employees are often the last to hear about an expat employee being repatriated according to Sheldon Kenton, chief commercial officer for Cigna Global Health Benefits.
Some quotes from the article worth highlighting include:
- “We moved back to the same house; we were driving the same car. And it hit me like a punch in the gut. It took two years until I felt like a human being again.” A Canadian who repatriated from Singapore.
- “The first month was amazing, all the food and soda and little things I missed so much… For the first four weeks, I felt like I was visiting. Then I realized I really do live here. I was not going back anywhere. That was when things started to get really hard.” An American who repatriated from Spain.
- “Nobody gets it. It’s like having somebody dying and there’s no funeral and you’re not supposed to talk about it. You feel guilty talking about it.” Expat therapist Lois Bushong who is also a founding members of the group, Families in Global Transition.
- “They may say you have to go home or go somewhere else. But you might say, I actually like living here.” George Eves, the Moscow-based, British-born founder of Expat Info Desk.
- “You’re in a circle or tribe with other expats. But back home, you’re only one in a sea of people. Some of them have never left, some don’t have passports. And you look like everyone else.” Naomi Hattaway, an American who moved first to India and then to Singapore, who then wrote a post on her blog called “I am a triangle.”
- “Send me home? It’s easier to go to Bangkok than to repatriate in Vancouver.” Robin Pascoe, author of “Homeward Bound: A Spouse’s Guide to Repatriation.”
- “[Moving overseas will] mess you up for the rest of your life. You’re constantly torn between those places, and you’re a changed person.” Rev. Ken MacHarg, who served as a pastor in six countries around the world.