You’ve arrived back after a fabulous summer break. The suitcases are unpacked, the fridge stocked and the internet up and running, when you notice a storm brewing above your head. There’s a feeling of dread and apprehensiveness. Your sails have stalled and your stuck in the doldrums. Even though you’re back, you’re not sure you want to be. There’s a part of you that doesn’t appear to have joined you on the flight home. Optimism is nowhere to be found.
After thirteen years of coming and going I feel like I might just be getting better at this re-entry business. This trip back hasn’t required the usual two day lockdown where it’s not safe for me to leave the house. I’m here, I’m happy and I’m looking forward to getting on with things.
Why? I’ve done a bit of this:
Here’s my top 10 tips to a happy re-entry to your expat life.
1. BE GRATEFUL, THINGS COULD BE SO MUCH WORSE.
So maybe your current location isn’t your favourite, but things could be so much worse. Be thankful you didn’t accept that job offer in Syria, Libya, or maybe even Egypt. In comparison, your life is a breeze.
2. ENDORPHINS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
Do some exercise. Wherever you may be there’s always a chance to grab some endorphins, even if it’s climbing the apartment stairs or walking up and down the street. Set yourself some goals so that you have something to achieve each day. How many days until Christmas? What can you achieve by then? Are you ready to try the couch to 5km? Could you do a cartwheel on the beach on New Years Eve (okay, so that’s mine). What about some yoga?
3. SEE MORE OF THE PEOPLE YOU LIKE
Who would you like to see more of? There are so many people I’ve met here in Doha who I don’t see as much as I’d like to. Friends who work different hours than I do, friends who are involved at different schools, and friends who don’t have children at all. This year I’m making the time. I’m inviting more people to dinner, arranging more coffees, getting more involved in groups.
4. MAKE A DATE
Book a night at a hotel or a trip to the spa, give yourself something to look forward to. Arrange a babysitter. Give yourself a chance to unwind.
There’s no doubt you’ve picked up a few goodies from home while you were away. Have a good clean out of your wardrobes and cupboards. You’ll feel cleansed and organized.
6. DONATE AND DO SOMETHING GOOD
After you’ve de-cluttered maybe you could donate to those who need it more. It doesn’t just have to be clothes and kitchenware. Have you donated blood lately? Check out your local volunteer services and see if there’s anything you can do.
7. START PLANNING YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY
Perhaps you can’t afford it right now but research is free. Get online or speak to your local travel agent about your next holiday. Paris might be three hundred days away but at least it’s there, in your future.
8. GO LOCAL
Immerse yourself in the local culture. Hit the souq, medina, market or city square. Join a local group, find a local to befriend.
9. EXPLORE YOUR OWN CITY
There’s no way you’ve seen everything. Grab a copy of your latest “Time Out” magazine or speak to a local tour guide. Dig deeper, discover the secrets of the city. Remember when you were new and you had to seek out what was on and which groups to join. Get to it, things have changed.
10. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Take a class, join a group, get studying. It can be as simple as learning how to take care of your garden, or how to snap a decent photograph. Maybe it’s time to get serious, find out about that Masters degree or becoming fluent in Arabic or French. Don’t waste your time moping. Pick up a new skill, do something for yourself.
I’ll say it again. Do something for yourself. Don’t look back at this time with regret and what if’s. This is a great opportunity. No, it’s not home, but that’s why you came here in the first place. Get out there and enjoy it.