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RE-ENTRY REALITY
YOUR GUIDE TO RELAUNCHING YOURSELF AFTER BEING ABROAD
by Cate Brubaker, PhD
©	
  2014	
  by	
  Cate	
  Brubaker
Photos	
  ©	
  Cate	
  Brubaker,	
  except	
  the	
  cover	
  photo,	
  profile	
  phot...
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction .............................................................................6
Why this wor...
6
INTRODUCTION
Let’s be honest. On one hand, you’re happy to be home.
Family! Friends! Pets! You can speak your native
language, eat your...
I’m convinced that what gets to us in re-entry isn’t the
in-your-face reverse culture shock. (I can order my
favorite coff...
Most travelers and expats react to the feelings and questions that surface in re-entry in
one of two ways:
1. Run. (I’m bo...
What I’ve learned in the course of several re-entry
experiences, research, and many years helping expats,
travelers, and s...
You may never feel
satisfied at home
again.
On the flip-side, you likely
feel at home anywhere in
the world.
11
“
ABOUT ME
At 17, I thought I’d aced re-entry. It wasn’t until a decade later, while
TA-ing a study abroad class in grad sch...
SPREAD THE WORD
Know others going through re-entry? Show them this ebook. Better yet, encourage them
to buy their own copy...
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Re-Entry Reality: Your Guide to Relaunching Yourself After Being Abroad

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Transcript of "Re-Entry Reality: Your Guide to Relaunching Yourself After Being Abroad "

  1. 1. 1 RE-ENTRY REALITY YOUR GUIDE TO RELAUNCHING YOURSELF AFTER BEING ABROAD by Cate Brubaker, PhD
  2. 2. ©  2014  by  Cate  Brubaker Photos  ©  Cate  Brubaker,  except  the  cover  photo,  profile  photos   provided  by  the  individuals  featured,  and  some  addiAonal  photos.   Photo  credits  are  listed  in  Resources.   All  rights  reserved.  This  book  or  any  porAon  thereof  may  not  be   reproduced  or  used  in  any  manner  whatsoever  without  the  express   wriHen  permission  of  the  author  except  for  the  use  of  brief  quotaAons   in  a  book  review. If  you’d  like  to  share  this  book  with  others,  please  purchase  another   copy  or  ask  about  bulk  rates.  Thank  you  for  respecAng  copyright  laws.   This  workbook  was  designed  using  the  PDF  Workshop.  I  highly   recommend  this  tool,  and  would  be  honored  if  you’d  use  my  affiliate   link  when  making  your  purchase  (I  earn  a  small  commission,  which   helps  me  provide  free  content).   Cate  Brubaker,  PhD   SmallPlanetStudio.com   2
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction .............................................................................6 Why this workbook?.................................................................12 How to use this workbook........................................................18 What’s your Re-Entry Reality?.................................................22 Moving beyond misery.............................................................31 How to relaunch yourself: the 4 steps......................................51 Resources................................................................................91 About the author ......................................................................104 Workbook pages to print .........................................................107
  4. 4. 6 INTRODUCTION
  5. 5. Let’s be honest. On one hand, you’re happy to be home. Family! Friends! Pets! You can speak your native language, eat your favorite foods, and sleep in your own bed. But you also feel like something is off. It’s not necessarily bad, just…off. Maybe you feel like one of these travelers: “In some ways I know myself better, and in some ways I feel more lost than I was before.” “I've been overseas for 16 years and every time I come back, it is a challenge.” “I thought that my re-entry was MUCH worse than my go abroad culture shock.” Here’s the thing about re-entry. It isn’t what you think it is. Like most people, my re-entry experience was absolutely unexpected. Grocery stores were overwhelming, roads were massive, and I felt like I had been turned upside down. I felt like I left part of my heart in Spain, Argentina, and Ecuador, and didn’t quite feel whole. Each time I came back I knew I wasn’t returning to “business as usual”, but I wasn’t prepared for the struggles with adjustment (but I was prepared for going back to a regimented schedule with school, a new apartment, and connecting friends and family again). I didn’t expect for it to be harder than the initial culture shock. The biggest issue for me was the shift in friendships. I found it difficult to connect with people that hadn’t been abroad before and I was shocked that my friends didn’t want to see my 3,247 pictures…it took awhile for me to realize that my friends and family had changed while I was abroad, too. - Carrie Niesen
  6. 6. I’m convinced that what gets to us in re-entry isn’t the in-your-face reverse culture shock. (I can order my favorite coffee without pantomiming! Do we really need 1,000 types of cereal to choose from?) Rather, it’s the on-going, much subtler re-entry fatigue that’s the real problem. (Why do I feel out of sync? Do I really want to stay in this career? Why am I so bored?) Why? Because we know that being abroad changed us. Yet we often can’t articulate exactly how – and how much - we’ve changed. Just as the majority of culture is invisible to us, so are the nuanced ways our travels have transformed us. Once the initial excitement of coming home fades, we feel dissatisfied. Bored. Unsure. Maybe even lost. 8 RE-ENTRY. OTHERWISE KNOWN AS EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE AFTER BEING ABROAD.
  7. 7. Most travelers and expats react to the feelings and questions that surface in re-entry in one of two ways: 1. Run. (I’m bored here! Gotta get back on the road! That’s where I feel alive!) 2. Settle. (I had an amazing experience abroad…but (*sigh*) what does that have to do with my life now that I’m back home?) Whether you choose to go abroad again or stay home isn’t the issue. My reaction to re-entry was to immediately plan my next trip abroad. My husband? He dove into finding a new position in his field. Even though we had different reactions to re-entry, we held the same concern. Being abroad made us feel alive, adventurous, and empowered. We discovered new aspects of ourselves that we really liked. Once back home, however, we felt like we had to choose between being the person we’d become while abroad or go back to being the person we were before we left. But we didn’t want to choose. You probably don’t want to choose, either. 9
  8. 8. What I’ve learned in the course of several re-entry experiences, research, and many years helping expats, travelers, and students with international transitions is that re-entry isn’t just about surviving reverse culture shock. Re-entry isn’t about re-adjusting to being home. (I mean, once you’ve been abroad, who wants to stay home?) It isn’t about tucking your life-changing experiences in a shoebox with your photos and travel ephemera and then getting on with your life. And it isn’t just those first few days and weeks after coming home. What, then, is re-entry about? Re-entry is the opportunity to relaunch yourself into your next great thing! 10 Re-entry sucked, to say the least. I did not want to return in the slightest, but felt obligated to finish my schooling. What surprised me was how weird it felt to be surrounded by people speaking English instead of Spanish or any other foreign language. I also specifically remember on the ride home feeling lost in the highway because it felt ridiculously huge to me! The fact that I didn’t want to come home and couldn’t stop talking about Spain or on the phone with friends from Spain was deeply offensive to my family. While abroad, I had the chance to separate who I was from the beliefs I had in me that were from my family, so we basically had to get to know each other all over again. They also were surprised to have to correct my English grammar since I was using Spanish grammar but English words and didn’t even realize it! Eventually I was flat out banned from talking about Spain and had to find other people (most likely other people that had been abroad) to share my experiences. -- Jessica Plaunt
  9. 9. You may never feel satisfied at home again. On the flip-side, you likely feel at home anywhere in the world. 11 “
  10. 10. ABOUT ME At 17, I thought I’d aced re-entry. It wasn’t until a decade later, while TA-ing a study abroad class in grad school, that I realized just how deeply I’d struggled with re-entry. Since then, I’ve helped many travelers, expats, and students through international transitions in my study abroad work, as a German teacher, and an intercultural facilitator. Today, I’m a part-time nomad based in North Carolina. In addition to helping world travelers relaunch themselves into their next great thing after being abroad, I teach at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and create global education programs for international schools. I can’t imagine doing anything else! Thanks for reading Re-Entry Reality. -Cate 104
  11. 11. SPREAD THE WORD Know others going through re-entry? Show them this ebook. Better yet, encourage them to buy their own copy. 25% of every Re-Entry Reality purchase is donated to a scholarship fund to help a high school student study abroad! I’d love it if you’d help me spread the word about Re-Entry Reality on social media, in your networks, and with students, friends, and colleagues. Thank you! GET IN TOUCH Let me know what you think of Re-Entry Reality. Give your feedback here. I’d also love to hear about your re-entry relaunch. How can I help? Email me at smallplanetstudio@gmail.com 106
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