After nearly 9 months of living and traveling in Europe, I’ll return home on Tuesday. I’m happy and quite fortunate to call the state of Oregon my home. I’m currently in The Netherlands and have been enjoying the change of the seasons with the turning leaves.

The cooler temperatures are a reminder of transitions and the next real adventure that’s right around the corner: retuning home

bridge
Fallen leaves in The Hague, Netherlands

I’ve been thinking more about the concept of home and what it really means. For me, I know deep down that home means being close to family and friends. I can see myself making home in another place other than Oregon someday, but for now I know that my real home base is in the Pacific Northwest. 

Another One Bites the Dust. 

The last time I returned home after being traveling for an extended amount of time, I fell flat on my face. You know that Queen song “Another One Bites the Dust”? Well that’s how I felt. I came home after walking across Spain and traveling to a total of 11 countries in 9 months without any plans or any idea as to what to do next.

Not this time.

I’ve been gone since the end of January and I’m happy to say that I’m seriously looking forward to being home. I refuse to have the same “Another One Bites the Dust” experience as I did last year. I’ve been thinking more about returning home and how to make it a positive transition. Here are my strategies I’m going to use as I’ll be returning home after living a abroad.

trees
Sunday reflections in The Hague

Process.
It’s time to process the good and the bad. Travel isn’t always perfect, so don’t romanticize all of it. But then again, think of the good. Think of the beautiful. Think of the not so beautiful too. Be grateful. Smile. That’s the nice thing about the long journey home, it gives you time to think and reflect before landing. 

Do what feels good.
For me I know that keeping a level head and being happy means staying active. Whether it’s going for a long walk, running, yoga, hiking, or biking I know it’s essential to move everyday. I also know that eating Mexican food makes me feel pretty great too. Whatever it is, just make time for what makes you happy. 

Be patient and be kind.
Don’t be a jerk to yourself, it’s a serious waste of time. I know there will be days I’ll want to get the next Portland to Amsterdam flight, but I’ll remind myself to be happy with where I am. Not only do I need to be patient and kind to myself, I also need to do the same with family, friends, ahem and fellow Americans too. It’s easy to change a lot when you’ve been globetrotting for an extended amount of time. It might be difficult to talk about things or even make sense of them. That being said, don’t be a jerk.

Make plans.
Whether it’s meeting up with a friend for a coffee, a weekend trip or taking a class. Just make plans. I’ve been called “a joiner” before, apparently that’s someone who joins groups a lot. Well I like groups! I like doing fun and interesting things. I’ve started making short-term plans for the days after my arrival in addition to long-term plans a few weeks in advance too. I like having things to look forward to. 

Treat my home like a foreign country:
This is one of my goals. Wherever you are, it’s likely that you haven’t seen and done everything you can do. I know for a fact there are countless hiking trails I want to explore, cities I haven’t been to in Oregon, and neighborhoods undiscovered. Be a tourist in your city, go to the tourist office, take a walking tour. Isn’t that so much easier than taking a Transatlantic flight? Yes. Enjoying the local area is something that I’m looking forward to doing and sharing my stories here too. Here’s a few tips on how to treat your home like a foreign country

Writing this down is one thing and putting them into action is another. I look forward to sharing my experience as I travel home in the coming weeks. Check back here for my upcoming Oregon adventures. 

Written in: The Hague, The Netherlands
Updated: September 14, 2016

Returning Home After Living Abroad: 5 Strategies for Making the Transition
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4 thoughts on “Returning Home After Living Abroad: 5 Strategies for Making the Transition

  • October 15, 2015 at 5:09 pm
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    Holy Cow! You are in for a treat!
    The Pacific NW in the winter:
    ` ` ` ` ` `loads of moody fog and drizzly lemondrops ` ` ` ` `

    You must visit me + my husband, Michael— bring your fam!!
    In fact, this Saturday night he is playing in his Irish band at our local Parkdale brewpub! 6 pm–Free!
    Or the Von Trapp kids (20 year olds) ARE singing at the Kennedy School in PDX tonight–FREE!! (i might be there, too) yodel ay heeee hooOOOOoo

    >>>Welcome HOME<<<
    Teri Byrne
    & Hi to your folks for me :))

    Reply
    • October 15, 2015 at 5:27 pm
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      Teri, you’re great! Thanks so much for the invite. I’ll email you 🙂 Will be sure to say hi to my folks!

      Reply
  • January 9, 2016 at 7:37 pm
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    Hola Katherine
    Came across your blog through the Expat Life Stories Podcast. I love listening to people’s stories.
    I think you will agree that moving home after 9 months travel is very different from moving home after a few years living abroad. I myself have lived in Turkey for 6 years and now a year in Spain, 7 years as an expat…and when I visit home, Australia, it feels totally alien. Life as an expat means you have a whole new set of friends. Of course you still connect with the old ones back home but it isn’t the same. It can never be the same….as the expat has moved out of their comfort zone into the unknown and everyday living in a foreign country is an adventure. Life as an expat means navigating the systems to get your residency and health care etc…in Spain it is a never ending process.
    Keep up your travels…..and blog…..best wishes with your future travels and perhaps you will become an expat one day.

    Reply
    • February 21, 2016 at 5:09 am
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      Hi Matilda! Thanks so much for your comment, I somehow missed it until now. Thanks for checking out the podcast, I always enjoying talking travel 🙂 I know how you feel in that returning home can feel very alien. I am currently traveling around the states for the moment, trying to see more of my own backyard. Although there is so much to see in the world, it’s nice to see my own country for a bit. Turkey sounds fantastic, Spain is easily one of my favorite places. Perhaps the expat life in the the future for me, like you. Stay tuned! Thanks again for connecting.

      Reply

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