Cultural Experience | Resources

Can you really go ‘home’ again?: The reality of moving back to your host country after Study Abroad

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.

You did it. You just spent 8 months of your academic career, and indeed your life, studying and living abroad, halfway across the globe, thousands of miles away from your loved ones, your home comforts and your day-to-day routine. You immersed yourself in a totally new culture, threw yourself into activities you would never have dreamt of participating in, tasted new foods, explored new landscapes, met incredible people and learnt more about both yourself and the world than you ever thought possible. And then, all of a sudden, that’s it.

Your courses are complete, your Study Permits expiring, and before you know it, you’re on that flight back home. And what then? Perhaps you settle back into your old life quite nicely, you cherish the fond memories of studying abroad but you’re happy to be home and content to pick up where you left off, albeit this time with a year of fun and a ton of world experience on your shoulders.

But what if you don’t? What if home no longer is ‘home’? It’s still a great place, sure, and your loved ones are just as important to you as ever, but it’s not the same. You’ve changed, and you know that this is no longer where you belong. You yearn to be back in what is now your old life, and you just know, deep down, that’s where you’re meant to be.

Deciding to move back to your host country upon returning ‘home’ after Study Abroad is a daunting decision to make, especially for a new graduate. I mean, let’s start with the basics here: your parents are going to be pissed. Here you are, a new graduate, probably from a top-ranking University, possibly with an exceptional degree or a sky-high GPA under your belt, but rather than get yourself on a rapid-Grad scheme, sell your soul (or at least the next 5 years of your life) to a big-time company and kick-start your career, you’re instead running away to another continent.

Another continent, where, not only will you have to try and accomplish all of the above as a new immigrant on a temporary working visa, which puts you at an immediate disadvantage (most employers strongly prefer permanent residents), but where your foreign degree will most likely count for less. In England, for example, your degree classification, or GPA, is often the first thing employers look at, whereas in Canada, your GPA is worth significantly less than your degree type: in one work, f***. I mean, consider the following scenario: you’re a recent engineering grad with a ton of work experience. If you stay home, you know full well you can walk straight into a high-paying engineering position, whereas if you move back to your Study Abroad country, it’s highly likely you’ll be clearing tables and making coffee for the foreseeable future, until you can finally convince an employer to take a chance on a foreign worker. If this situation occurred, would you still feel as though you’d made the right decision? Would it still be worth it, delaying you career just to live in that particular country?

Additionally, you will also have to balance all the struggles of a new Grad with simultaneously praying to the visa Gods and facing your main support system living several time zones away. Oh, and don’t forget that you may be in for a serious reality check: spending a year abroad whilst studying and living in Rez is a completely different ball game to working full-time and making it on your own, so prepare yourself for the possibility that those rose-tinted glasses you’ve been wearing may just slip off. I mean, let’s be honest here, it sounds like madness when you spell it out, and in brief, moving back is no easy feat. Both the lengthy, frustrating process of attaining a working visa of your own accord and the challenges you’ll face as a temporary worker are major points to consider before you make a concrete decision.

So, have I scared you off? Are you rethinking your return? Does immediately moving back still seem like the right choice to make?

If you’ve contemplated all of the above and, like I was, are still convinced that this is the right choice for you, well then, should you do it? Should you bite the bullet, throw caution to the wind, follow your heart and risk it? Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll still be tough.

You’ll need to be super organized, have a stellar support system in both of your ‘home’ lands, and be open to the idea that anything can and will happen (there is honestly only so much planning you can do when you’re future is so unclear), but that doesn’t mean it can\’t and won’t be the most wonderful decision you’ve ever made.

Take it from a girl who moved 5000 miles away to a city that had just entered a major recession, with no work experience, and until very recently, no idea as to what she wanted her future career to entail: if I can feel certain that I made the right decision to move back, anyone can. Because yes, I could probably be working my way up the career ladder right now, in a better economic climate, with little working against me, but I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy. And, let’s be honest, happiness trumps everything (at least in my opinion!), so if moving back is truly what will make you happy, then go for it! Besides, if it doesn’t work out, you can always go home again, wherever ‘home’ may be.Ilkley

I’ll leave you with a little quote by Suzy Kassem, which I think sums up the essence of this post pretty darn well: “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”.

Rachel Ullah

University of Leeds | 3 stories

Rachel is a 23 year old Brit, originally from Yorkshire, who moved to Calgary on exchange in 2013 and proceeded to fall madly in love with all things Canadian. She moved back in 2015 and has been living and working in Calgary since. She loves exploring new places, drinking an obscene amount of tea (especially Tim Hortons, of course), listening to rap music, eating sushi whenever possible, hiking, running, anything Harley Quinn-related and Leonardo Dicaprio. A keen writer, Rachel hopes to build a career in either Journalism or Public Relations. Follow her on instagram to keep up with her adventures in Calgary & beyond: @rachelullah

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