Our first visit “Home”; as an Expat

We’ve been Expats now for close to a year, and the boys and I recently had our first trip “back home”.

Being away from Home for just over 10 months has widened our hearts and minds. We’re part of a different culture; not only the one that we currently live in but also the culture of being an Expat; an outsider.

For months I’ve had friends and family telling me how they miss us and when are we coming to visit. With Bunny’s school holidays approaching towards mid-January, I suggested that I take the kids to visit friends and family, instead of just lounging around in the house while Mr. Bear still had to work. It would be 2 weeks of excitement; constant get together’s and meet-ups where Bunny could play outside in a garden, Monkey could get used to what real grass feels like, I could soak up the typical Highveld summer thunderstorms with the added pleasure of seeing the people I hold dear to my heart.

I had announced our idea to some friends and family and it was very well received. Some even counting the days down with me, some starting to make plans, but then, some not sharing much care or enthusiasm about it.

I was told numerous times by other expats who have gone through this type of visit, that it’s rarely all that you wish it to be and one often will expect way more; that I had to remember that I’m not going through what they are going trough right now; I’m not really part of their lives, even if we still had daily contact; that I would see who were willing to make an effort; and that the easiest would be to organize one event where people can come see us, instead of me dragging the kids all over the place each day to try and try fit everyone in.

My heart sank quite a bit when I heard that it wouldn’t be all sunshine and roses. I mean, these are people I care for and they care about me. I’m making the effort of a 11+ hour trip across the world; why wouldn’t some make a small effort. I’m sure my people won’t be like that!!

Well, wake up and smell the bloody roses!! They were right.

By all means, I had family and great friends who really did make a lot of effort to come and see me. Effort from driving 3-hours to come to where I was staying; extending their own trip to stay longer; to blocking out an entire afternoon to see their “doctor”; and others just making the effort to maneuver through hectic traffic to come say hi. It was absolutely heart-warming to see how some would put their lives on hold for a little bit to come see us.

Don’t get me wrong; I know one can’t always take off work, or take a break for a coffee, especially during the week, or rearrange a whole day with kid’s schedules. I really do get that. Good grief! I had to adapt and rearrange both my kid’s routines for 2 weeks, in a different time zone, miles away from their new home, without their Daddy, in a foreign house with new tastes and smells. I know that I’m not “used to” what’s going on in said Home Country. I know you have your own life now. I know sometimes plans just really don’t go as we intend them to go. Really, I do get that… Just didn’t realize your own life meant I can’t be a part of it in living form, but only through social media…

This is not a post to make anyone feel bad that didn’t make an effort or whom I didn’t get to see. This is just a heads-up to anyone planning a trip “back home”.

Visiting back home after being away for nearly a year, certainly has stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Even when you look past the whole visiting of friends and family.

Currently, we live in a country where it’s relatively safe. Where violent crimes are unheard of. Even petty crimes do not make the news headlines, not even on a monthly basis. It just doesn’t happen… Compared to our Home country, where violence and crime is part of everyone’s lives on an almost daily basis.

So it was quite a reality shock to be petrified to sleep alone in the house without a family member at night; to not allow Bunny to stroll behind me in a shop; to not want to drive around in case we catch a red traffic light and having to wait for it to turn green.

It made me realize how pathetic it is to live in a country where you don’t feel safe; where you have to constantly look over your shoulder and be on permanent guard mode. How did I ever manage to live with it for so long?

Our holiday overall wasn’t so great. It didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. It was lonely during the days while everyone was at work. It was nerve wrecking at night with only me and the kids in one massive house. I missed having my boy’s daddy. They missed him. We were all miserable. One phone call and a good amount of tears later and Mr. Bear went to change our flight ticket to come back home 4-days earlier.

Do I want to go visit again? Yes sure. But this time completely on my T’s & C’s.

The next time another Expat gives me advice on these type of things, I’ll actually follow them and not think that “my trip will be different.” Seems everyone’s trips are all the same.


On our way back home




17 thoughts on “Our first visit “Home”; as an Expat

  1. Hi I understand how you feel and It make me feel all curious about our next trip back ex home in April. I organised already lots of activities with friends, doctors visits etc

    Hope it will be great!

    Ps can I ask what is your home country?😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think we’re never really convinced with that reality until we experience it. But it’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one who feels that way and that it’s completely normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep, going “home” is never all it’s “cracked up to be”. As a couple, no kids, we have to do all the travelling after having done 24 hrs plus to get there! It is good to see all who will make time but now we just try to shrug off feelings of guilt and get on with enjoying our lives, home has a very different meaning for us now after nearly 30 years as expats in one country or another. Home now is the “two of us, wherever we may hang our hat” Love and hugs to you and yours x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Marie. Yes, home is certainly where my immediate family and I are. Definitely not going to feel guilty again for not seeing someone…


  4. Nice to read this blog! I am a mommy of 2 boys as well… We are a mixed couple, Indonesian-Dutch and live in The Netherlands before moving in Manila. Now we are in our 2nd expat life in Manila 🙂 It is always one constant thing that happen : no one in your homecountry (in this case Holland and Indonesia) who can refer or even imagine or even understand how’s expat life… 🙂 it is true… even I don’t want to explain.. esp to my dutch family who are never interested to the outside world.. so it is nice to read this article. I can relate it very well. Good Luck in Qatar! Let me know if you pop by Manila 🙂


    1. It’s a shame that they don’t show interest. But it is good to know one isn’t alone. I’ll definitely let you know when we come that side 😉


  5. Yes! Been there, done that. The only silver lining is that it sorts out your real friends quick smart. After 6 years I am down to 2 super close friends. If i see others, great, but I’m ok,so long as I see S & T. The good news is that it gets easier. x

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Omg, all the yeses to this! Our first trip “home” last summer was an emotionally exhausting train wreck. Yes, people went to extraordinary lengths to see us but I just felt overwhelmed the entire time. Still trying to figure out how I can make the trip different/better/less stressful this year…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Certainly not the easiest thing to do, hey! I wish you all the best. We’re going again for summer holidays and this time I’m literally not running after anyone.


  7. Yep. Sometimes you just have to go through it to understand it and each visit will be different. We’ve had to face repatriation and, whilst there are loads of things I love about being back in our home country, being an expat has made such an impact on our lives in a way that you ever quite expect. Trips back home will prepare you for that, and then again, won’t. Just remember, don’t look back, don’t regret your choices and my expat experiences are something I wouldn’t trade for the world, even when I am at my lowest point. PS. I’m going back to our last expat “home” in a fortnight and I can’t wait!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh dear… I’ve been an expat for 15 years. Similar experience in terms of safety difference and disappointments. I’ve become a different person after going through patches of anger and silent treatment. I’m ok now. My life is elsewhere and something else from some of my family members’ and friends’. I still love them all. I still visit. I still go expecting more than what I end up accomplishing. My kids are third culture kids and they live their family ties much more matter of factly. We are the ones who left. The ones who took chances and risks and have stories to tell. It sometimes sounds arrogant to those who didn’t. They sometimes want to know we are happy sometimes they want to hear life is tough abroad too but then they want to tell us “tough. You decided to leave”. Luckily my dearest friend since childhood became an expat too so we still understand each other. As for the rest, I am usually the one doing most of the understanding. But that’s only human. If I had the chance … I would do it all over again exactly the same way. Love my expat life and its ups and downs.

    Liked by 1 person

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