Re-entry and Reverse Culture Shock

Re-entry and Reverse Culture Shock

Written by Heather

Topics: Planning & Reflection

The true fruit of travel is perhaps the feeling of being nearly everywhere at home. -Freya Stark-

It’s been two months since my plane touched down on the east coast of the USA and I officially returned home after living in Australia for a year. Perhaps more than any other two-month period of my life, these last eight weeks have flown by, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

The first month was filled with jet lagged days; crying over the loss of a dear friend; grieving over the relationships, places, and lifestyle I had left behind in Oz; and reuniting with family and friends at home, church, and over many a coffee or lunch date.

The last four weeks have brought more of the same, only with greater clarity and insight into the emotions and thoughts that dominate my heart and mind from sun up to sun down — and even throughout the night. Now that I am “settling back into life at home” (if you can really call it that), I have started to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges of re-entering one’s home culture after a long-term experience overseas and the challenges that reverse culture shock presents to the newly returned traveler. As I begin processing what re-entry means for me, I feel the need to write about it in hopes of working out the thoughts and feelings more fully. I also think it’s important for travelers to share about the challenges of culture shock, reverse culture shock, and difficult days on the road so we can encourage one another in knowing we’re not alone during the darker days.

NO RE ENTRY!
photo credit

My Journey with Re-entry has gone a little something like this…

It wasn’t long after I set off on the Oz road trip with Adam and Nicole that I found my thoughts inexplicably skipping from the present, “here-and-now” to the inevitable return home. I knew the days in Oz were numbered, and I wanted to drink up every last moment, making each day count. For the most part, talking with my road trip partners and seeing new places in Australia distracted me from thinking about the future during the day. At night however, as soon as my head hit the pillow, my eyes welled up with tears. I knew that I was one day closer to going home. One day closer to coming to the conclusion of a year that had been a dream come true. Just another 24 hours closer to having to ask myself, “So NOW what, Heather?!” The grieving process over leaving Australia began weeks before I ever booked a flight to come home.

Once I booked the flight from Sydney to Baltimore, the reality that I only had two weeks left in Australia was difficult to accept. I wanted to see everyone, dine at my favorite places, and drink in the beautiful views one last time. Only I didn’t want it to be the last time. Each time I gave a friend one last hug or visited a favorite spot for the last time, my heart grew heavier with the finality of it all. And I was afraid. Afraid of what I’d find when I returned home, afraid of potentially not feeling happy at home, and afraid of never feeling again the way I felt in Australia — not every day was easy, but overall I had felt confident, relaxed, brave, curious, adventurous, and open. I was afraid I’d swap all of that goodness for stress, anxiety, loneliness, depression, and a deep sense of loss within days of returning home.

You know what…some of those fears were warranted. I had never experienced reverse culture shock before — the feelings, thoughts, and experiences one faces upon return to her home country following a lengthy/significant experience abroad — but I knew to expect it. I’d heard and read about the difficulties re-entry presents from several fellow travelers and on study abroad websites. Just a few of the not-so-fun symptoms/phases I’ve encountered thus far include:

Renegotiating relationship dynamics with friends and family. I’ve changed in many ways over the last 12 months, both in ways I can identify and probably in a handful ways I have yet to discover/fully understand. Understanding aspects of the “new” Heather can be challenging sometimes for me, so “introducing” friends and family to the changes in my ideologies, philosophies, attitude, and values is a constant work-in-progress. And of course my family and friends have kept living their lives while I was gone! When I give the quick (neatly packaged to 1-2 minutes!) response to, “So how was your year in Australia?!”, I then ask, “So tell me how life has treated you this past year.” Often I hear, “Oh you know…the same old thing. Nothing as exciting as you.” This makes me a little sad. I know their children have grown older and they have all kinds of fun stories to share. That they had some brilliant days balanced with difficult ones over the previous year — and I want to know about them! I want to connect deeply with loved ones again, and it will take more than one or two reunions to jump start some of these relationships to where they were once before.

Feeling “Oz-sick”…or as my friends in Australia have been calling it, “homesick”. I miss Australia with every fiber of my being! I find myself often saying “In Australia…” and making a comparison between Aussie and American culture and sometimes being critical of US culture — I warned my family that this would happen and they’ve been very gracious about it so far! Portions at home are out of control, and the excess bothers me. A small coffee at one cafe was bigger than a large in Australia — and I didn’t enjoy it. I do appreciate the lower prices at restaurants, but I miss the cafe culture of Oz. I so want to split both a savory and sweet dish with Adam, discuss at length which cupcake to pick with Nicole, and try a new cuisine and/or restaurant with Simon. From time to time, I find myself thinking in Aussie, wanting to ask “how you going” instead of “how are you (doing)”. At the grocery store this week, I actually made a mental note that I needed a “capsicum” instead of “pepper”. When I watch cooking shows in the US, I say the Aussie pronunciations of food terms in my head immediately after hearing the American presenter say them differently. As one website on reverse culture shock says, “family and friends expect that the returnee will be happy to be back home, which is not always the case”. I want my family and friends to know that I’m glad to see them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t simultaneously miss Australia deeply and wish to return…on the first available flight.

Attempting to understand how I’ve changed and what this means for the present and future. I know with complete certainty that several of my values have changed — especially those related to work and every-day living. I’ll write about that at length (brevity has never been my strong suit) very soon. While I am very accepting of these changes, I’ve found it difficult to explain when asked. Others are confused, and at times critical, of my ideas. I’m still learning how to work through all of this and feel the need to pull together a support group of like-minded individuals O:-) Since being home, I find it’s been hard to answer the question of “who really understands me” anymore.

A general feeling of anxiety, loss, restlessness, and irritability. Trust me, this one isn’t fun. I’ve only slept more than 4 or 5 hours a night for perhaps 5 days since I’ve returned home. Like the final three months in Oz, my days are filled with distractions to underlying thoughts and emotions, which annoyingly make their way to the surface within 30 minutes of going to bed. Before I turn out the lights, thoughts of losing John, missing Australia (its people, places, and food), current financial concerns, and the ever-so-present question of “what do I do next” bombard my mind at once. It’s like someone has dropped a box of ping pong balls, and they’re left to ping and pong their way in every conceivable direction in a mind I’m trying to ready for sleep. Of course these thoughts have corresponding emotions and I react to them. I still cry almost every night. I feel an ache in my heart to board the next plane to Australia…if only I had the financial resources to do so. I feel overwhelmed at the pressure (perhaps a mix of internal and external) to get life sorted quickly and have a clearly defined, beautiful answer to “What’s next?!”

Can this Dorothy ever feel at home again?
122/365 There's no place like home
photo credit

I share everything above because I believe it’s important to normalize life’s challenging experiences and their corresponding emotions. I’ve read several reflective and heartfelt blog posts lately from fellow travelers that have left me thinking, “ME TOO” with a great sense of comfort. I love that we share our highs with one another, and I fully embrace that it’s just as important to be open about the lows. I want to acknowledge this transition between Australia and whatever comes next…to give words to what I’m thinking and feeling and even allow the difficult emotions to have their place without giving them too much power to settle in and overstay their welcome.

I need to ask myself every morning how I can continue to move forward and prepare for what I hope the future holds. I need to find ways to ease re-entry while maintaining strong ties to Australia. I pray about the present and future. I swap emails with trusted friends I’ve never met but who understand what I’m going through as fellow travelers. I watch the current season of Masterchef Australia to meet my need for foodie TV and the Aussie accent. I’ve stood in a line at the post office to send cards to friends back in Oz and have received a couple of pieces of international mail myself. I’m slowly but surely returning to my healthy eating habits and have been exercising again for about a month.

In my next post, I’ll share a few ideas on what I think life has in store, especially when it comes to making enough money to pay the bills and when I plan on traveling again. Thanks for sticking with me as I wrestle with a million questions and hopefully find a few answers. For those who have faced reverse culture shock, I’d love to hear how you’ve navigated the challenges. If you have written about it before, please link to your post(s).

Featured image via creative commons.

45 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Mom says:

    So eloquent my daughter….I cried!

  2. Sally says:

    Awww, I’m sorry to hear that returning to the States has been such a struggle. But I appreciate the fact that you’re sharing the lows. I try to do that myself, but then all my friends write to me and tell me I sound “miserable” on my blog and I should come home. (Ha ha! Little do they know that I’d probably be just as “miserable” at home… reverse culture shock is no fun!).
    I’m sure it will get better. If not, you can always move to China! (See, how I worked that in there?)

    • Heather says:

      I wish I would have had enough money in the end to visit you when we tossed out the idea. And I’ve continued to think about it. If I came upon some money tomorrow, I’d be over in a flash for a visit. You make the pancakes, I’ll bake…something! And we could go on a jog together (’cause this girl hasn’t jogged since December) and then sit on the couch all day chatting :-)

  3. Summer says:

    having never really traveled anywhere, the idea of reverse culture shock hadn’t come to mind. I’ve had some of the symptoms you talk about after spending whole summers working at camp. Living in a different culture for any extended amount of time can make regular run-of-the-mill life feel very strange.

    I’m sure it will get better! I’ve enjoyed your blogs about Australia and your trip. And I hope things level out.

    • Heather says:

      Exactly — spending so much time in another setting and culture (domestically or abroad), creating special bonds with people and a place, changes us and when it’s for the better, it can be difficult to return.

      Thank you for following my journey — I miss the LJ days and reading about CG, the animals, and teaching riding lessons. I need a catch up with what’s been going on in your life.

  4. Kyle says:

    ” “So how was your year in Australia?!”, I then ask, “So tell me how life has treated you this past year.” Often I hear, “Oh you know…the same old thing. Nothing as exciting as you.””

    Yes. People always belittle what they’re doing, maybe because they think it doesn’t sound as cool as traveling, but that drives me nuts! I DO want to hear about what they’ve been doing even if they’ve been doing it in the same spot for the past year or past ten years.

    Also, you’re definitely not alone. When I came back from Chile for the first time after living there for a year and a half with no trip home in between, I actually ended up having to get a shrink because the adjustment was so hard for me.

    And then just wait. Give it a couple months and if you go back to Oz, the reverse reverse culture shock kicks in :)

    I think eventually I just got used to feeling like a weird-o everywhere I go.

    But it does get better. Once you get your feelings sorted out — do you definitely want to return to Oz? Or are you saving for a visit? Do you miss the people? Or do you miss the place? Or is it everything? — once you are sorted out, it’s easier to start feeling like other people understand you again.

    • Heather says:

      Depending on how my adjustment goes, I may speak with someone myself! I think it’s positive to speak with a neutral, third party who’s trained to help sort things out :-)

      I definitely want to return to Oz…ideally I’d love to spend 2-3 months there a year. I’m not sure if I’m ready to move to another country permanently, but I feel so strongly about and connected to Australia that a part of me could see myself pursuing permanent residency or citizenship one day. It just feels right. I miss everything.

      I’m not saving for a return visit at the moment because I’m barely making enough money to pay the most basic of bills.

      Thank you for your comment — it feels like we’re actually sitting down chatting about all of this instead of talking on the blog :-) I’ve really come to admire you and would love to meet!

      • Kyle says:

        Ahhh yes, another one of the fun aspects of reverse culture shock — not having a job in your home country! It’s always fun being young and broke , I feel ya 😛

        It sounds like you are sorting things out. And yeah, I’d definitely recommend talking to a third party if possible. LIke you said, they’re neutral, and that’s pretty much the most important thing.

  5. Fantastic post. I think many of these feelings will be the catalyst for change in your life…and things WILL work out.

    • Heather says:

      More than anyone, you truly introduced me to a mobile lifestyle, and as I’m exploring what location independence may mean for me, I’ll remember all of our talks — and keep bouncing ideas off of you.

  6. Helen Freeman says:

    When you can call both places home then the transition will be easier . Oz is part of you now . Indeed . It is blessing that we can truely be
    global citizen nowadays .

    • Heather says:

      You’re right, Helen…this year has made me truly feel like a global citizen, and I have a *strong* desire to continue exploring new parts of the world. I hope that years of travel are before me.

  7. Camille says:

    Oh – your writings so express all your feelings about living in Australia and coming back to the States. I can feel all your emotions in every little word. I know for SURE there are people in Australia that miss you and love you – yet the same is true back here at home.

    I know you have traveled extensively and I wonder if the same feelings would surface if you spent a year in another country with its people and culture (not to mention food) – or is it something about Australia that captures your heart.

    • Heather says:

      A very good question…I am sure it would be difficult to return home from anywhere but Australia means so much to me and it meant something to me before I even arrived. Aside from missing my family and friends, I can easily see myself living in Australia and wanting to be an Aussie citizen.

  8. Megan says:

    Oh I definitely hear where you’re coming from. Going home was even harder than leaving in the first place – I felt like a fish out of water for the longest time. I hated how easy and normal everything was and I would listen to conversations around me that were completely mundane and think, ‘don’t these people know what’s going on in the world?!’. I’m worried it’s a feeling that will never go away.

    I think if you want something badly enough (more travel, to live in Australia permanently), then you will make it happen :)

    • Heather says:

      I’m working on creating work choices that will allow me to travel more in the future — not those 3-week trips I took every year since it’s the only vacation I had, but for months at a time if I so desire. It’ll take me a while to get there, but it feels like the direction I’m supposed to head toward next.

      I wonder if it’ll every go away too. I’ve realized that I’ll probably never feel the way I did *before* leaving for Australia. Is it even possible?

      Glad you’re off again and hopefully loving it more often than it’s a challenge.

  9. Nicole says:

    Heather, I love that you are always so open & honest with your feelings. I still have about 7.5 months before I will return to the States, but I imagine I will experience many of the emotions you’ve described & I’m so glad I have you to help me sort through them! <3 Like any transition, I believe things will get easier for you over time & you will emerge a stronger person! Miss you HEAPS! :'-(

    • Heather says:

      After writing this post, I started feeling better straight away — in fact, I published it a week after I wrote it. I think it’s been a week or two since I cried at night. I’m still itching to blow the little savings I have left and book a flight there, mind you, but it’s getting better all the time.

  10. Dennis says:

    I’m sure you know my life has been anything but routine in the last year. :) Very well stated, though; I don’t always think about these things when reconnecting with friends who have been away.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Dennis :-) And I try to remember to keep my excitement about Oz somewhat contained around others, especially when it comes to story telling. So far I’ve done exceptionally well for being such a talker O:-)

  11. Laura says:

    Well said! I’ve been through many of the same feelings, only I didn’t have the nerve to write about it. I’m glad you were able to flesh it out. I’m eager to read the next post as well (granted that my internet wants to work- everyday is different). Oh, and btw, we need more coffee dates in the future :)

    • Heather says:

      Writing about it was even more therapeutic than I thought. The tears have gone away (for now anyway). My mind is still in a complete spin, but it’ll get better, right?

      I’m so happy for this fantastic experience you’re having this summer and look forward to a reunion when you return <3

  12. Annie says:

    First and foremost, I’m so sorry that you are having such a hard time being home. I know that there have been some surprises that have made things even harder, as if you didn’t have enough worry on your mind.

    Second, I just want you to know that this is 210% exactly how I felt when I got home from Australia too. I just couldn’t fathom the thought that everything was going to go back to normal. I was so confused and in such a strange state of mind (and so changed), I actually lost friends over it. It was unfortunate that it had to happen that way but that’s life I suppose.

    Things will fall into place, and I know that doesn’t mean that you’ll stop worrying about them but do your best to enjoy what you MISSED while you were in Australia!

    • Heather says:

      I’m not glad you had to go through these feelings too, but it truly does help to know I’m not alone and to connect in a new way with fellow travelers I’ve become friends with over the last year.

      While the tears have now gone away, the unsettled/being pulled in loads of directions feeling has not. I’m glad I was able to write about it because I have a really difficult time talking about it…where to start? My ramblings are more worse than usual.

      *HUG*

  13. Erica says:

    Oh Heather! I think this is one of the most eloquent posts I’ve seen come out of your blog. I’m lucky in that I had only experienced small trips before so my post travel blues/reverse culture shock only lasted about a week.

    I think you definitely need someone to talk to – whether it be a like minded individual (get in touch with your local Couchsurfing scene!) or a shrink. Miss your “face” in the bloggy world. <3

    • Heather says:

      Thank you! It turned out to be one of the easiest/quickest posts to write ever, and it really helped…I’ve been feeling heaps better since…not 100%, but much less angsty in many ways. It’s just so hard to feel that no one at home understands you when they used to be the ones that got you more than anyone else.

      I know my Twitter activity dropped dramatically with the road trip and hasn’t picked back up to the way it used to be…very sweet to be missed <3

  14. Jayne says:

    Heather I am sure I have said this before but I admire your honesty so much and hope that you writing aboout these feelings helps even just a little bit. I completely understand what you are going through. I had a tough time readjusting after a round the world trip, I felt I left Asia earlier than I should have. Money was tight so I did the sensible thing and returned home, foolishly thinking I could return again soon. I’ve regretted this decision ever since and dream constantly about getting back to Asia to explore some more. I quickly threw myself into an unsuitable job and expensive apartment thinking that was what I needed to do to move on but it only caused more misery. My advice to you now would be don’t rush to make decisions about the next step. Everything works itself out in time. Also remember that the sadness you feel at leaving Oz is just a sign of what an amazing experience you had over there and cherish that thought xx

    • Heather says:

      Jayne, thank you for your encouraging words! Each time someone shares that they’ve felt the same, it helps me know that I have like-minded folks to look to — folks who have returned home and found new paths to explore. I *really* appreciate the advice not to rush this next phase and the decisions I’ll be making. I feel like I should be moving faster, and though I’ve worked hard to explore a new path, it feels like I’ve accomplished little in two months. That being said, I don’t want to dive into something that I will know and feel is not best. I’m trying to be patient O:-) AND you’re spot on…my feelings and reactions just speak to the experiences I just had and how meaningful they were to me. Thank you!!

  15. Ali says:

    Similar but different from what I’m going through right now, just days away from moving to Germany. I think we’re all programmed to want what we’re used to so when you adapt to someplace else, it becomes home and therefore hard to leave behind. Good luck in figuring out your next step! I’m looking forward to reading about it!

    • Heather says:

      I think you’re right — what still surprises me is that I have lived in the US my whole life, but one year in Oz seems to have “undone” or “completely flipped” some programming. Maybe more time at home will eventually change it “back to normal” but I’m guessing some things that changed over the last year will never revert back!

      Safe travels to you!

  16. Jaime says:

    I don’t know how I missed this post. Wow I am sorry to hear that going home has been tough for you. I think it would be tough for all of us after so long away. I wish I could say I could relate to you, since I just came home after 3.5 months on the road, but I can’t at all. For me coming home has been easy because I knew I would be back on the road again within a few weeks so I did not have to reestablish my roots and find out what I am going to do with my life. But coming home has already made me realize how hard its going to be when I get back. I sold my car and just about everything and right now I can not do anything with out a car and am having everyone drive me around. I know when I get back I will have to right off the back get a car and also find a job ASAP to pay for it. I am also seeing a few other things that I know are going to be a problem for me like a lot of people just assuming I did this for fun and have been on vacation the whole time. I think the hardest part is that people don;t understand us and why we decided to do something like this in the 1st place. I can go on & on, but I’ll stop.

    I just know that with time it will get better Heather and you will find everything just fall into place and well if it doesn’t then I am sure you can pack up and travel off to another country or state (Hawaii) and work there for a year or two…lol!!!

    • Heather says:

      Thank you Jaime — I started feeling better within hours of writing this post, which was a whole week before I published it. It was one of the easiest/fastest posts I’ve ever written as well, which surprised me.

      I hope your return to the open road goes as smoothly as possible and am so glad you’ve had this time with your family at your brother’s wedding and back home for your best friend’s wedding.

  17. Megan says:

    Hey Heather…

    So, I lived abroad twice before I came to Thailand, and I lived in various cities in Missouri and Maryland (though my parents have lived in the same house for 35 years–what?), so I know all about that reverse culture shock. I still miss the places I’ve lived, even years and years later…but it’s not a painful missing, if that makes sense. I hope you’re feeling even better now!

    And…if I get to DC this summer/fall, you should come up and we could hang out!

    • Heather says:

      I’d love to sit down and chat about your experiences and eat copious amounts of food! Looking forward to your trip home, whenever you make it :-)

  18. Heather – I missed this post because we had just left on vacation and I didn’t notice it until now. Wow. So eloquently written.

    I’ve never struggled with culture shock upon arrival somewhere new (I’ve been annoyed, frustrated, jet-lagged and lost to varying degrees, but never “shocked” per say) but reverse culture shock is a different beast all together. I find reverse culture shock needles your soul. When you think you are getting better – it rears its ugly head. It is something I struggle with for months upon reintegration into Canadian society whenever I get home from an extended adventure.

    This time, rather than simply fading away as usual, reverse culture shock was replaced with a sense of regret. I’m an optimist by nature, but now I have this sense that there is so much more that I could be doing with my days.

    Reading through the comments makes me feel better – I’m not the only one with a long, rambling, reply! This is something that hits people close to home, I guess!

    XOXO

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Allison!

      When I read “needles your soul”, something in me connected to that — it made total sense.

      Reading about your most recent experience, I’m curious to talk to you and hear what’s going on for you and what you’re thinking. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do next, and the ideas and possibilities are difficult to sort through!

      • Allison says:

        We should talk for sure! This week is silly busy (a wedding, a business trip to Vancouver, and trying to get caught up on blogging and photo editing from the trip), but maybe a skype date in a week or so?

  19. danj says:

    Fantastic post, I’m coming home to OZ after a 4 year stint abroad in Russia, Canada, Japan and the US.

    It’s been nearly two weeks now, and there is just this strange sense that I am misplaced .. I don’t feel that anywhere is home at all anymore.

    Thanks for your post and to all the commenters, really helped just to read through them all and feel connected.

    One day at a time, one thing at a time I guess. My experiences on my overseas adventures are valuable, and they are part of me, and that is a good thing.

    Breathe in the dust and chaos of your previous hopes and dreams. Wake up, you must wake up, and build it all again.

    – Danj

    • Heather says:

      Danj, best wishes to you as you’re transitioning!! I’m so glad this post and the comments resonated with you. I really valued the support of the travel blogging community when I returned, and I hope you find your support system. And I’m an email away :-)

  20. Donna-Lee says:

    Heather, don’t worry, it does get better. I returned home to Australia (funnily enough) from the US, and it has now been just under 2 years. I still miss it, very much in fact. On particularly bad days at work my husband knows I am having a “San Jose Day”; the type when I really want to return. My advise to you is seek someone to talk to professionally, it certainly helps. Also, and this works for me still – do not fear that you cannot revisit this experience (literally). Once you accept that the door does not need to be shut, and that you are simply making the most of where your feet are now, you will struggle less. I know that I may return to the US, just as clearly as I know I may not – but the little memories of what was good for me there add richness to my “here and now” regardless of the future. Devote as much energy as you can to where you are whilst keeping your memories to spur you on. Do I visit visa info sites and look at my photos often? You bet! Do I get sad I am not there now? Not as much, because I know the possibility is always there. Take your time, I promise Australia will be here for you if your decision to return is made with a good combination of reasoning, practicality and emotions. Having said that…want to swap? :) Take special care.

    • Heather says:

      Donna-Lee, thank you for such a thoughtful, sweet comment. I’ve felt heaps better since writing this post. I think I just had to wrestle with it all a bit and share it. Since publishing it, I felt I turned a corner and that’s a good feeling. As you said, I still think about Oz and miss it, but I need to make the most of the here and now and am attempting to do just that.

      I wouldn’t mind a swap 😉

  21. Nina says:

    Thank you for writing this article and validating what was original unknown to me ‘reverse culture shock’ as I am currently going through the same emotions. I read this with such a heavy heart what you had gone through on your return of your work-trip-dream of a lifetime as I am the opposite, I am coming back to Australia after 2 years living in France and I had expected to come home to familiar surroundings foolishly thinking everything would be the way it was when I left when in fact it hasn’t been the case. While I was gone everybody was getting on with their lives and i was developing (and only in hindsight I say this) a heightened sense of awareness of the world. I became attached to France, the food, the people and I related to it so much more than I would ever have imagined that when I returned home to Oz things that should have been familiar to me were not anymore, conversations had changed between people I had known for years and I too cry myself to sleep wishing with all my heart to return as you did for Australia. Like you said nobody seems to realise how difficult the transition it is to move countries nor can they understand. It’s like they think i have been on one big holiday when it was so much more than that. As my days were numbering in Paris I too had this sense of urgency to see everything once more and I counted every second as if they were precious moments passing by and bam when I arrived nothing felt the same and I my only worry is that I will never be that happy like I was in France as you were in Australia. I am at the stage where you once were asking myself where the heck do I go from here, I guess I expected I would tick all the boxes straight away; find a job, regular lunch dates with friends and go back to eating meat pies which has not been the case, I feel I fit in to the european cutlture more than I do the Aussie one. So yes thank you again for this fantastic article and all those who commented above it gives me hope that things can only go up again from here.

    • Heather says:

      Nina, I’m so glad you found this post and that it was validating for you! It’s really important to me to normalize life’s transitions and stressful/challenging moments, and the more people share, the more we understand we’re not alone. I think being away for 2 years would be even more difficult than being away for 1 — I hope every day brings you closer to navigating this current chapter and into one where you feel better. I’m going to follow up with an email to you!

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