How to Deal with Coming Home After Long-Term Travel

May 20, 2016
living abroad
How to Deal with Coming Home After Long-Term Travel

Coming back home after you’ve travelled for quite a while can be very daunting. I’ve lived abroad in the last year and a half more than I’ve gone back to my home country, Portugal. I’ve felt disconnected from my family and close friends when I went back home, but what I didn’t realise was that I felt as unfamiliar to them as they did to me. All I had to do was to embrace my new self and family. This is what I’ve realised when going back home:

Not everyone will understand the changes in you – and that’s ok

When I first went back from my first experience living abroad, no one understood or realised some of the changes I’d gone through. At first, I felt very frustrated and mad at my own family because they didn’t recognise that I had improved myself. However, after a few months, I learnt that it doesn’t matter. I took a step back and thought “Ok, these people, whom I love deeply, did not go through this amazingly overwhelming experience, so it makes total sense that they do not immediately understand that I’m a changed person.” It’s hard at first to accept this fact, but you’ll get there.

It’s important to make new friends

You don’t need to throw your old friends in the garbage, just make new ones and add them to your heart. As I said above, not everyone will realise how much you’ve changed. Finding or relating to new friends at first seemed very challenging to me. Even though when I was living abroad I was very adventurous, I can’t say the same about when I’m back home. In the end, I knew that I needed friends that would inspire me to continue being my greater, better self. You now probably have hundreds of friends across the world (free accommodation, yay!) but they’re miles away now, and sometimes all you need is a cup of coffee with your buddy.

Chat with your international friends often

Something that always kept me going was talking to my friends. I had a hard time meeting new people and relating to my old friends, so at first, talking to my distant yet close friends worked wonders. We used Skype every now and then, but we Whatsapp-ed every day. Even now, I talk to them every single day. They remind me of the new self I found during my travels, but we’re also still growing together.

Book your next trip, even if it is a long time away

I didn’t realise at first, but when I went back home after my first experience living abroad, I was quite tense and rude at times to my loved ones. I think my turning point was when I got back on the horse and started buying plane tickets again. I planned new trips for the following couple of months, and that stopped me dwelling too much on what an amazing experience I had had, and how much it felt like I was stepping back into my life and self. Go get your tickets!

Engage your family in your new activities

The best way to show someone that you’ve changed is to actually show them. Do fun things together. One thing I learned to love abroad was beer. Once I returned home I went out with a few friends and enjoyed my new drink of choice.

Be your true self

Whatever others will think or whether you end up losing a few friends, don’t forget to just be you. Travelling changes us, it opens up our minds as we see the world. Accepting that you’ve grown is a fundamental part of reconnecting with yourself and your loved ones.

About Catarina Pinto

Catarina PintoI was born and raised in Oporto (Porto for Portuguese), Portugal. Five years ago, I had the chance to go on a trip to London with my high school – and so my traveling bug was born. I have been traveling ever since and have lived in Ireland, Czech Republic and I’m currently living in France. I love reading and dancing; life would be perfect if I could dance while reading on a trip to the world. 🙂 I very much love my sister, who has always pushed me into writing more. And despite being French, my boyfriend is always ready to take on my offers of traveling to the nearest stop. I enjoy life to the fullest when I’m traveling and discovering new cultures!

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