Tuesday, 30 July 2013


Lots of people have asked - "so, what's it like to be back home?" and I still don't have a clear answer.
It's simultaneously great and weird, exciting and confusing.  I feel both inspired and sad.  In some ways, it's like we never left, but at the same time, I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

sunset over the swiss alps
I have been surprised by the considerable research out there on "reverse culture shock" or "re-entry shock" pointing to the challenges in returning home after living abroad.  There are lists of feelings that include sadness, isolation, disorientation and confusion among others.  There are a number of different phases you may go through when you move back - honeymoon, shock, recovery and reintegration.   Who knew?  Not me, but apparently I'm not alone.

When we moved to Switzerland, I was both prepared and excited by the idea that there would be a transition of sorts, but since we weren't moving to India or Taiwan, I was hesitant to even think in terms of "culture shock".  Of course, there were challenges as we got used to a new country, a different culture and foreign languages.  As we tried to build a new community for ourselves, there were moments of homesickness and loneliness, mix-ups and occasional frustrations, but for the most part, we muddled our way into our new Swiss lives with comfort and ease.

sunset over georgian bay, ontario
Coming back home has been much harder.  The Swiss adventure that we planned and looked forward to is now over and I find myself a little bit in mourning.  That party is over and even though I'm excited about a new one beginning here, it's a struggle.

And we're only at the beginning of the adjustment.  In theory, this should be the easy or so-called honeymoon part - it's summer and we've had an action-packed and wonderful few weeks in Georgian Bay, a place we all adore.  The kids have gone to their beloved overnight camps without a hint of trepidation, keen to jump back in where they left off a couple of summers ago.  But, there have been some bumps for all of us.  Maybe it's a homesickness for our life we made in Saanen, maybe it's the trickiness of re-fitting our new selves into this old home.  I suspect it's a combination of both and probably other factors that we haven't even figured out yet.

The adventures of life continue...

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
- TS Eliot