10 Signs You’ve Just Returned Home After a Long Time Abroad

Katrin Meschin • 30 Dec, 2015

If you’ve recently returned to your “normal environment” after spending some time abroad, you’ll probably agree that many things feel different. Seeing familiar places makes you nostalgic, you see things in a different way and it’s hard to explain it all to other people. Here are 10 things my friends and I have noticed always happen after returning home from a long trip or living abroad.

1. You notice the small things

Being away for a longer period of time makes you miss all the small things at home. The Sunday brunches, the sound of the door when someone comes home, your collection of tea/movies/Star Wars items/wine that you couldn’t bring with you. Before arriving, you can’t wait to lie in your own bed, and have already made plans to spend your days curled up in your favourite blanket, hugging your cat, eating your favourite ice cream, watching your favourite TV series and finishing all of the books you wanted to read. Oh, this holiday will be splendid.

Photo credit: tookapic

2. You’re fully booked

Even if you dreamed of relaxing and doing nothing, it ain’t going to happen. The moment you get back you have dozens of friends who want to meet up and all of your relatives insist you pay them a visit. You get loads of event invitations on Facebook and you have so much to catch up on. Soon you’ll realise that being home is like a full-time job. Once you finally get to your house at the end of the day, you feel exhausted and wonder when your actual holiday will start.

Photo credit: meenakshi madhavan

3. You feel knowledgeable and experienced

Surely spending some time abroad has been an experience that has taught you something. Even if you were only away for a few weeks, you’ve seen a lot, met new people and discovered different places – all of which contribute to a feeling of fulfilment. Nevertheless, your friends may not understand this. Although you’d like to express your excitement and share stories of your most meaningful adventures, the people around you may only understand a small part of it. For them, it’s really the same old you, perhaps just with some weird new habits.

Photo credit: Unsplash

4. At the same time you feel like you don’t know anything

Depending on how long you’ve been away, you may end up in a discussion where you have no idea what people are talking about. While you were away, some of your friends might have met new people, there might be new celebrities everyone besides you knows about and a few globally significant events might have taken place, which you somehow managed to miss. While everyone is having fierce debates, it may take you a while to understand what people are talking about and to catch up. Don’t worry – just go with the flow.

Photo credit: Sipa

5. You struggle with your own language

Even if you’ve been speaking in your own language while you were away, you might have picked up some weird slang or expressions that make you sound odd. It’s even worse when you’ve been in another country for a long time without practicing your mother tongue. Although you probably sound perfectly normal, there may be moments when you translate something directly from another language and end up sounding ridiculous. For example, “taking a bus” and “taking a shower” don’t work in all languages. You may not even realise it until someone points it out. Well, hopefully they know what you mean.

Photo credit: Adrian Snood

6. Your sentences all start with “When I was in…”

Some people may think you’re showing off when you emphasise that you’ve been abroad. You know it’s not true. In some cases, it makes sense to contextualise what you’re talking about. The trouble is, usually the people around you learn pretty quickly that you’re talking about another country, and they do it faster than you think. You therefore end up annoying everyone by repeatedly starting your sentences with “When I was in…” Well, “back there” things were different and that’s interesting to know, right?

7. You brought some weird habits home with you

Moving abroad often comes with culture shock. People eat weird food, take off their shoes when they enter a room, say sorry and thank you at absolutely every possible moment, drink mate tea or cook with a lot of spices. Before you realise, you’re wearing harem pants, practising your chai-making skills, listening to new international playlists and adding an insane amount of spices to your dishes. Most importantly, you’re loving it – either because you’ve become used to these new customs or they simply make you nostalgic and bring back some good memories.

Photo credit: Wadams

8. You have a lot of faraway friends

Suddenly you have to take care of friends on the other side of the planet. You may prefer to write letters or send postcards, but what often happens is that Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype suddenly take up more of your time than they should. It’s easy to get lost behind your computer screen or smartphone, and although others probably thing you’re reading another silly BuzzFeed article, it really isn’t so. You’re maintaining the relationships that have survived long distances and actually mean a lot to you. Time to book another Skype call!

Photo credit: Jason Devaun

9. You’re already making new plans

Although you just returned and are enjoying every moment of sweet luxury at home, something doesn’t let you rest. You’ve got this roaming fever and you can’t settle down. Once you’ve detached yourself from everyday life and discovered that there’s so much more beyond your hometown, you can’t help but start wondering where you should go next. Amazing pictures of possible destinations, stories from other people about their unbelievable adventures and all those travel blogs build up anxiety. And once it happens, the people close to you can see it in your eyes – they can see when you get restless and your mind wanders. It’s a destiny many have to face, but hey, are we really complaining? Nope, we wander around trying to find new travel gear and, once the opportunity comes, we leave only a cloud of dust behind us.

Photo credit: Angztl

10. You justify everything with “But I’m only home for now”

Finally, the best of the best – an excuse for everything. You fancy your favourite ice cream. Your friend is busy and can’t watch a movie with you. Why not indulge? You’re only home for now! All of your favourite places you want to visit, all the things you can’t do when you’re abroad, all of your favourite TV shows – now, and only now is the time for them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. The time you spend at home is time for you to enjoy. Just don’t end up surviving on just your favourite chocolate. The world isn’t going to end, after all.

Photo credit: Dankreider

Being back home after a long time abroad can be both relaxing and wonderful. I’ve personally really enjoyed some of the things mentioned in this post, but some have also been a bit of a struggle. Everyone has different experiences of course, so feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Cover photo credit: BriF

Katrin Meschin
Customer happiness manager at Like A Local. Studying geography at Durham University. Lived in Norway and worked with huskies. Occasionally plays the bagpipe.


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    I could relate to this so much though I was abroad for only two months! When I was still away, I could barely relate to some of my Facebook friends' posts. Also, when the language spoken is different from home's, you'll surely miss the language...a lot and uncosciously use some words while conversing. I was almost in tears hearing my local language when I was in the airport lounge. I enjoyed my two-month stay but it made me nostalgic.
    Senica • Mar 01, 2018 • Reply
    All the things you pointed out ring so true to me. I've lived abroad for 10 years and while I love being back home, I fear I always start sentences with "In the UK..." or "When I was in..." and I honestly don't do it to brag, the biggest part of my adult life was spent abroad so, that's my point of reference, but I know it must annoy people.
    Ana • Jan 14, 2018 • Reply
    I'm flying home today. Back to Nigeria (from Belarus) for the first time in five years. While I'm excited, I'm also devastated. Nevertheless, I can't wait to see how it all goes.
    Emma Chekwa • Jul 15, 2017 • Reply
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