When you travel overseas there is a decent amount of preparation to do. It can include booking flights, passports, visas, injections, packing, learning a bit of the language, researching the culture, knowing what electrical sockets they use etc. And if your trip has a purpose other than a holiday (i.e. it has a goal to be accomplished*), e.g. work, volunteer or mission, you may have extra work to ensure all the logistics of your activities are organised.
But for these purpose-orientated trips, how often do you think about what it will be like to return home, BEFORE you even leave?
I’m guessing if you’re anything like me, you don’t. I’m usually completely focused on all the other preparations.
But today, I’m going to suggest you add this to your pre-travel to-do checklist.
|A smooth arrival home is not just to do with how your plane lands
When you go on a short-term trip overseas with the intention of interacting with the culture-even immersing yourself in it-you change. You will have new experiences, good and bad, that will alter how you see the world. This is a great thing-this is the expansion of your horizons that everyone says is the great benefit of cross-cultural experiences!
But then you come home. You re-enter your old context where people don’t know what you’ve experienced. How do you communicate what you’ve learned? Maybe it’s new processes or systems you want to introduce at work. Maybe some of your values or attitudes have changed. Maybe you want to change some things in your life, how you live etc. Whether it’s profound or practical, this struggle between the “old” you and the “new” you in your familiar context can be a confronting challenge when you come home.
So, getting back to my point, what happens if you start to think about this before your trip? And then during your trip? From what I’ve experienced and according to some articles I’ve been reading lately, keeping that awareness from early on helps prepare your mind in advance. It means when you feel a bit disorientated after coming home, it’s easier to recognize. You also start to rehearse different ways you can explain your experiences to people, so you don’t feel put on the spot when you touch down. In other words, it makes for a smoother re-entry.
In addition to the above, I believe preparing to integrate your experiences from overseas into your life is fulfilling the purpose of going in the first place! Otherwise, what’s the point?
🙂 Happy Travels
*I’m fully aware a holiday can have a goal of accomplishing relaxation, but that’s not the direction of today’s blog post 😉 Another time perhaps.