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  • Writer's pictureForeign, Or

Foreign, Or Trading Cards | The Repat

The trading card game that features Foreign-Or types found all over the world! Check out the eighth card released from our Foreign, Or Basics pack:

see more on card anatomy here

A repatriate is not the polar opposite of an expatriate, but more like its complicated older sister who just broke up with the love of her life.... and never stops talking about it. Back ‘home’ The Repat will either mature with an enduring depth or flounder with the inability to move on.


An obvious one, and one that The Repat has experienced before on visits back. All their compatriots are leading traditional lives, everyone’s worldview is very parochial, the food is just, *sigh*… and the politics! Wow, was everyone always this angry? Then there’s the price shock. Quickly calculating currency conversions in his/her head, The Repat has a hard time adjusting to the price of everything from electricity to a haircut.


The Repat really enjoyed being abroad. And like that heartbroken older sister, they will not. shut up. about it. As their expat existence glitters from a receding past, they keep the memory alive by constantly musing on the differences of here and there. This makes them insufferable, tone-deaf conversationalists, but remember to be kind to The Repat as they go through this difficult phase. Perhaps ask them about their new living situation…


Not every expat ends up moving back home, but those who have been taken in by a supportive family can relate. Sitting in their childhood bedroom, The Repat feels stuck in a time warp. At first it’s fun to get nostalgic over those old trophies, saved notes passed in class, or the fashion aesthetic left in their closet. And even when their folks’ curiosity to know "the plan" can get grating, home cooking does take the edge off of those hard conversations. Soon though, the weight of dependence starts to suffocate. The Repat ponders:

How will I find housing with no credit history or landlord references? Save to buy a car when repatriation is draining my resources? How will I ever date again if I’m broke, immobile, and sleeping in a twin bed?


The sense of dejavú in The Repat’s revisited reality is relentless. Everyone they’ve known is same same but different, and although this ForeignOr still gets called out by their old nickname on the street, people are always commenting on how much they've changed.

In the natural drifting from family and friends while being abroad, getting back to ‘the way things were’ feels most unnatural.

While away, the short time spent reconnecting each visit back was intense but frivolous— holidays, reunions, a coffee to catch up. Now back ‘for good’ all the bad moods, bad blood, and characteristic shortcomings of each relationship come into sharp focus. Maintenance of these relationships can weigh mundane, requiring their attendance at each birthday, baby shower, Sunday morning mass or Monday night football. All of The Repat's relationships abroad were so fluid and free, diverse and cosmopolitan by comparison… when did socializing get so toilsome?


All these messy feelings can come to a head in introducing a newcomer. When this returnee brings back an outsider partner (or little outsiders!) layers of complexity are added to re-integration. The Repat is often held supremely responsible for the success of the transition, since as a local they have the power of access, knowledge, and connections… or at least they used to. They must facilitate every ForeignOr family member's adjustment to the new weather, laws, language, etc. Even if all the logistics are settled, a positive attitude about their new/old home is paramount. The Repat must be a vision of confidence and hope— otherwise who else can their ForeignOr family look to for strength?


In a nutshell, returning home can take a dark psychological toll. The Repat was a pink flamingo in their adopted home, and now no one asks them about their accent. They invested so much time in thriving abroad, and now they’ve fallen behind socially or professionally back home. All the less savory realties of life— like aging parents or their position in the social class system— were swept under the proverbial rug of time abroad, and have now resurfaced to form a big, ugly hairball of ‘adulting’.

HR departments in big companies are well aware of the perils of repatriation and thus dedicate resources to remedy the effects— like therapy.

Many repats end up going abroad again, still unwilling to commit to 'being back’, A serial expat or repeat repat's concept of ‘home’ has been redefined so many times that perhaps it is no longer associated with a physical place; it exists within a ForeignOr's system of values and chosen lifestyle. No doubt, The Repat has a huge life change to make it through in some way best for them— thus we’ll leave their evolution possibilities to ‘unknown’.


Are you a repat dying to tell us about all your re-integration trials and triumphs? Tell us everything! Repeat repats and pandemic repats especially welcome!

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