As my plans beyond my final contract in Korea begin to solidify, so do my repatriation fears. Surviving “reverse culture shock” is daunting, and a very real challenge. I’ve been reading articles with titles like “Moving Home with Dignity” and “Top Tips for Repatriation”. I just want to live on an imaginary beach far away from Canada and Korea.
Repatriation Fear #1:
I Won’t Get a Job
I think this is pretty common for anyone regardless of your background or the place to which you’re moving. The fear of being jobless, broke, and unhappy is a sad, anxious cloud over me on the daily. Great, I paid off my student loan living in Korea. Whoever said a specialized degree would help me get into law school really could not have predicted how low going back to school would be on my bucket list. I’m now 30 years old and on the verge of unemployment. Yippee!
Repatriation Fear #2:
I’ll Have to Start Over Career-Wise
Is it just as bad or actually worse to be under-employed? I’m not above taking a job that’ll just pay the bills when I go home, but what if I get stuck there? I’ve worked for some amazing people in Toronto, but I’ve also had employers who have treated me and my colleagues worse than garbage. I mean – at least the trash gets taken out…am I right? I have a Bachelor of Music degree. What, pray tell, might that get me in business? Well, not a whole lot. Thankfully, I worked in marketing while in University and straight out the gate after graduation. While in Korea I’ve maintained 2 blogs and their requisite social media, but we’ve got it good in Seoul. Most of us (bloggers) here are just big fish in a small pond. I’ve been out of the office game for 3 years, now. What does that say to a prospective employer?
Repatriation Fear #3:
Employers Might Think I Took an Extended Life Vacation
I’m definitely scared that potential employers will think I’ve just partied and babysat over the past 3 years. They might think I’ve been on an extended “working” vacation. They might think I can’t operate in an office environment. Truthfully, I’ve probably been worked harder over the past 2 years than when I was an Account Executive or when I was Director of Sales & Marketing. Being a teacher in Seoul at a hagwon is incredibly demanding and thankless more often than not.
Repatriation Fear #4:
Have You Seen the Housing Market?
I’m scared I’ll have to live with roommates again! Having had a place to myself over the past 3 years I’ve really taken for granted how cheap (or even included) my rent has been. It haunts me to think that my studio priced at $1150 + utilities was “a steal” before I left Toronto. Scouring PadMapper has give me the heebie jeebies. A lot of these posts are $800 + to share the LIVING ROOM of someone else’s apartment. How does anyone afford housing at all?
Repatriation Fear #5:
I Won’t Have Visited all the Places I’ve Wanted to See
Commiserating over our repatriation fears, a colleague once told me it didn’t matter how much money I brought home with me because it’s would never be enough. This was her reasoning for traveling as long as possible before going home. I think it’s a genius rationale to go ape on Skyscanner, but it’s not quite enough for me to pull the trigger. I think I’ve narrowed down my SEA plans beyond my contract, but nothing is set in stone. What if I have buyers remorse, route regret, or get home and wish I’d stayed away?
Repatriation Fear #6:
I Won’t Have Enough Money Saved When I Get Home
I definitely don’t have enough for a down-payment…on anything. I’ve paid off debt and have saved a bit, but I could have been much smarter with my money. That said, I wouldn’t give up any of the amazing or atrocious memories I’ve made while living across the planet. Actually, that’s not true at all. There are plenty I’d be glad to not have experienced, but live and learn. Will I have enough money for first and last month’s rent? Geez – I sure hope so, but nothing’s a guarantee. It’s not even like I can be that sucker living with mom and dad in her 30’s – they left my city!
Repatriation Fear #7:
I’ll Go Back into Debt Trying to Re-Establish Myself
I left Toronto for a plethora of reasons, one of which being that it was next to impossible to dig myself out of student debt. By going back, am I staring back into the financial abyss? Drinks, dinners, movies, and excursions will be infinitely more expensive. The last time I had to re-establish myself in Toronto I went out a TON trying to meet people. It took me a good year and a half before I started to develop friendships with people of substance. That was when I was young and had the energy to try. What do I do now? I don’t think Netflix counts as a social life…
Repatriation Fear #8:
Dating will be just as Crappy
It seems as though my friends who have gone back to the States have had an easier time dating. What if the dating scene in Canada is just as crappy as the expat dating scene in Seoul? I write ThatGirlCartier with a touch of satire, but it’s not that far off from the truth when it comes to expat dating. I know I play a significant role in the demise of these relationships, but what happens if I go back to Toronto and still have few to zero f*cks left to give? Can they be re-purposed? Can I buy them on layaway? Am I going to go back into debt pretending I care about small talk and petty gossip? Is the dating pool in Toronto going to be just as full of sociopaths as
Camp Red Cloud Seoul?
Repatriation Fear #9:
I’ll Be Bored and Restless
If this even a question? I’m going back to a place which constantly changes, but always stays the same. The names may change, the decor might get an upgrade, but the vibe remains. I know I’ll be restless back in Canada. How many readers cruise Google flights or Skyscanner daily for pick-up-and-go deals? Will I be a slave to my
E2 visa employer when I go home, too? What about my bank account…Canada’s a big country to cross and – dare I say it? – I’ll be right in the “centre”!😜
Repatriation Fear #10:
I’ll Want to Come Back to Korea
This is the third and final part of my series on leaving Korea in March 2018. I’ve written about the things I hate as well as the things I’ll miss about Korea. What about if I want to come back? What if cold, harsh reality is a place where I just can’t hack it? I know I don’t want to teach at a hagwon again, but what are my options if I find that I’m just not cut out for the true North, strong and free? I guess all I can hope for is a smooth transition and as graceful a reverse culture shock as I can make of moving home!
Have you moved back to your home country after a few years away? Were your repatriation fears realized or completely unfounded? Let us know in the comments below!