Physically, you have to pack up your house and ship your possessions, a process that can be quite taxing and time consuming. Relocation agencies can help. Mentally, at first you may not feel like you fit in, and it can be a lonely and difficult time for many. Some employers offer expatriate support and publications, so utilise these where available.

Settling into Amsterdam life

Of course, there are a lot of things to organise when relocating. While that might seem daunting at first, with proper organisation and planning it can be a smooth process. Be sure to check out our tips for relocating and our relocation checklist to make settling into Amsterdam life as straightforward and easy as possible.

The adjustment cycle

One thing that can help in times of change is to recognise and acknowledge the phases that you’re going through. Regarding expatriation, you could take a look time at the adjustment process cycle (which is applicable to both expatriation and repatriation). You will be able to recognise the feelings and in some way that can make it easier to cope with. The basic steps of the adjustment cycle are as follows:

  • Honeymoon phase Also known as the ‘tourist stage’, where everything is new and you feel enthusiasm, excitement and an overwhelming sense of adventure. You only see the positive aspects of your new host/home country.
  • Hostility phase This is where you start to focus on the differences to your home country and become critical of the way things are done in your new home. Often tiredness and irritation kick in, and some people suffer from depression. You start to question your reasons for moving.
  • Humour phase The upwards slope of the adjustment cycle. You know how things work, you’ve figured out what is new or different, and it’s now just easier to laugh about it than cry.
  • Home/adjustment phase You start to feel at home. Your housing situation is more settled, you have made friends and established yourself and you start adopting aspects of your new culture. A general feeling of balance is achieved.

Of course, each person experiences this cycle differently, and it may take as little as a week to a number of months to get to the last phase. There is no ideal time frame, so when repatriating, just remain conscious of the process, and seek support if needed.

Repatriation

By the way, if you ever decide to move back home, you should prepare yourself as much as you did when you left. Known as reverse culture shock, the experiences facing a returning expat after years living abroad can be surprisingly challenging.

New memories

Your family and friends may expect you to slot back in like nothing has changed, and to some degree this will happen. However, you now have fewer shared experiences and your newly acquired skills, languages and experiences may not be recognised back home. So in fact, the above adjustment cycle applies to repatriation just as much as it does to expatriation.