Friday, December 12, 2014

Repatriation–even harder after Switzerland

Dear Yodelers,

Excuse the French, but since it's an official Swiss language The Frau won't hold back: Repatriation is a bitch.

Research says it is harder to go home than abroad. But research didn’t consider the Switzerland factor. And Switzerland makes it worse. Let The Frau explain.

Perhaps some of you know—Switzerland was recently rated the best place in the world to be an expat. It has one of the highest qualities of life in the world. Be born in Switzerland, and you’ve won the lottery of life, at least according to organizations that like to create surveys.

These facts do not make leaving Switzerland easy. In fact, they only set you up for disappointment. How can any other country compete?

Here’s the reality. It can’t. The Frau must accept that while there are some wonderful things about America—lots of personal space, spontaneous conversations with Target shoppers, being close to family—it is not Switzerland.

The Frau met with a fellow Swiss re-pat in Chicago recently and this woman still doesn’t have a car and she’s been back for two years. She takes a mini-bus whenever she needs to go far-flung places like Madison or Iowa City. She said it took her an entire year to adjust back to the US after being in Switzerland for three years.

Ok. Do the math. The Frau was in Switzerland for over eight years. Does this mean it will take her almost three years to adjust to the US, all other things being equal? What does that mean if her on-hold Swiss residence permit expires in two years?

In any case, you’ll be glad to know that The Frau has adjusted somewhat. She’s already forgiven the neighbors for not dusting their flowerpots. And she's driven the family car a few times although can’t bring herself to buy a second one yet. Also, Toddler M doesn’t yell “nein” at the American kids like she used to, although after enjoying a sleepover with one of her Swiss-American friends last week, she did resort to saying “ich auch” all the time for the following two days.

In other good news, The Frau tasted the best Magenbrot she’s ever had—and it was from Chicago’s German Christmas market. The Frau must say, American food does not disappoint–except when it comes to cheese. Oh well. Frohe Weihnachten, mitenand.

10 comments:

Thien Lan Weber said...

Welcome back to the US! Habe you considered Australia? Dynamic and fun for ad agencies...

Hattie said...

Takes about a year of adjustment. Counseling helped, as did going back to college. I'm very glad we returned. It's kind of a bummer, I think, being a foreigner, in the long run.

Ben said...

Ugh, my wife and I have a long term goal of leaving the US - even if only for a short time - and this is the main thing I worry about. One day we'll probably have to come back for my aging parents or other reasons and adjusting back to America, a country that I already don't enjoy, seems...terrible. Thanks for the post though and good luck with your readjustment.

Chantal said...

All The Frau can figure out is that expats and repats must be the most confused people on earth.

Kristin said...

Its really difficult and often depressing. We have been back in the US for a year and it has been very, very hard. I am American, he is Swiss and this is the longest I have ever lived and came back. We were in CH for 2 yrs straight without a single prep visit during that time, so yeah, holy hell. We are moving back in 2015 if that tells you anything. And I love the states and being American. Its still hard.

Swisswife said...

Thank you for this post.
Few people are prepared for the reverse culture shock when they return home.
It was the same for my husband when we moved to CH after he had lived abroad for 14 years.
It was the first time for me to live in CH so we went through the same 'difficulties' together. He thought it would be easy.... make a list of the 10 best and 10 worst things about each place and read them often to both make you appreciate and also help you get over any new frustrations. Good Luck.

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Jennifer @ This Off Script Life said...

I worry about this too and wrote about it while I was home in the U.S. for the holidays (http://www.thisoffscriptlife.com/off-script-reflection-hometown/). I've been living in Zurich for a little over two years, and I've really started to adjust to life in Europe. There's so much I miss about the United States, but I'm afraid I'll have difficulty readjusting. Best of luck as you make the transition, and keep us posted.

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