The journey back home: How to adapt to being back in your home country after your studies abroad
Written By: Redeem Govathson
Co-Editor, The Corporate Canvas
The opportunity to study abroad is a privilege which accords one countless benefits. It provides a great amount of exposure to other cultures, customs and ways of life. For some, once the studies are completed, a difficult decision has to be made on whether to start a career abroad or to return home. Ultimately, the choice between moving back home or staying abroad is a personal one. The idea of moving back home can be attractive, but there are many valid reasons why a lot of millennials find the idea daunting. Returning home will require a few adjustments, for example, one will have to get accustomed to a faster or slower paced life, or have to make new friends, which can be exhausting. It will also demand some amount of money and the right networks to help you settle. If you are studying abroad and plan on returning home, here are a few tips that can help make your transition smoother:
Network, network, network
As far as possible, stay informed about the ongoings in your home country. This relates to all aspects of life such as political, financial and social. Reading about your country’s current state of affairs in the media is helpful, but not adequate. As such, personal interaction with friends and family on the ground will definitely prepare you for your relocation. Ask them questions; what the economy is like, which industries are doing well, which are the best places to hang out and what is the general political scene in the country. If you’re thinking of finding a job when you arrive, having a true sense of the market will be fruitful. It will also help you decide which industry you can add value to and how you can do it.
If you intend on getting into the job market as soon you get home, the value of networking cannot be overstated.
Save: Every last dollar helps
These days, the cost of living in almost every country is generally high. Easy access to credit makes it easy to live outside your means and consequently, live from one day to another without any savings. Studying abroad often comes with many opportunities to work, and if you are lucky enough to get those opportunities, save what you can. When you move back, nothing will annoy you more than having neither a source of income nor money. Having to ask for money for even the most basic things will only add tension to an already stressful situation. Sure, you will never run out of fancy things to buy or fancy functions to attend while you are in university, but you will have to consider the opportunity cost of some of those luxuries. By indulging in one frivolous spend, you pass on the opportunity to save and then spend once you have relocated.
Before you get that job you will be applying for, you will probably need some money.
Sometimes, half a loaf is better than nothing.
We all know the dreams that are sold to us throughout university. We have it all figured out – and believe that landing a high-paying prestigious job straight after graduation is a reality. Unfortunately, it does not always work that way and in fact, that dream might be a lot harder to realize when you relocate to a whole different country. If you cannot immediately land your dream job which comes with the commensurate salary, my advice is intern or volunteer. Having no work skills at all will place you at a disadvantage when you are now up against candidates with some experience. The key is to not take your eyes off your career goals.
Of course, this is not to say you must take the “I will accept anything I can get my hands on” approach. Try as far as you can to get work experience that is in some way aligned to your career goals. After all, it is that experience that you will use as leverage when you finally get an interview for the job you really want. Future employers will naturally desire a candidate who can demonstrate that s/he has work experience relevant to the role on the table.
Relocating comes with many new opportunities, but it can also present many challenges. While these few tips will not make the exercise a walk in the park, they will undoubtedly make your move smoother and less stressful.