In preparation for our sabbatical, I read a slim book called Sabbaticals 101: A Practical Guide for Academics and their Families. It offered good advice for planning a year abroad: what to pack, what to expect in your first months, what emotional things might happen. Then there was this chapter about returning home. I think I read it. (I left the book at home, so I can’t refer to it at the moment.)
H told me a few weeks ago that I could not talk about going home, yet. That’s actually kind of hard to do since we are now just beginning to make plans for our return. We bought plane tickets, we officially told the ETH that we plan on moving out on the day we had originally told them we would, they sent us a letter with all the stuff we need to do in order to have a smooth check-out here, and H has started researching what car we might buy upon our return since we currently own no car.
I have been following the WSJ Expat page on Facebook for a month or so, and this article on Repatriation Blues popped up a few weeks ago. In fact, there have been a number of blog posts from different writers about the difficulties with returning home.
I do expect to have some culture shock upon arrival at LAX and for the next month/s or so, but I don’t expect it to be as difficult for us as for others, although only time will tell. First of all, we’ve known all along that this was a one-year adventure, and many expats are gone from their homes for a longer time. Second of all, many of our academic friends have gone to other cultures for sabbaticals, so we now have something in common with them, and when we talk about our year, they will understand, giving us a community of academic expats already. We haven’t had to deal with kids in local schools here and then moving them back, so that part has been easy.
And as much fun as it has been to unwind for a year, and inspiring to travel, once I get back into teaching in September, I will be glad to have a creative direction once again, now with recharged batteries. And a chance to eat a real burrito…