Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Making the Transition Back

It's hard to explain, but any other expat returning home for a visit will tell you it's a strange time: so much time has gone by, yet it seems like time hasn't really changed at all.  You hear about changes from family and friends.  There's a new piece of furniture in the living room or someone now has a new bundle of joy, but then there are the changes that catch you off guard like new restaurants and buildings that didn't exist before or the closing of places you used to like to visit.

The people you visit can also change or not change.  For better or for worse, it's out of your control.  Friendships and relationships are in a state of flux while you are gone, and you may or may not have things in common upon your return.  With some friends you will pick up right where you left off, but you will probably find that you grow apart from other friends.

You also begin to see things in a different light.  The mall and shopping isn't as appealing any more.  You are overwhelmed by the size and amount of variety available in the grocery store.  You are annoyed by the shallowness of what is on TV and yearn for a more authentic connection with people that are having your experience.

And last but not least: You wonder what is happening back where you came from the entire time you're "home".  I certainly had my mind on the summer weather in Santiago and the beach and pool parties I was missing out on.

I´ve come to a few conclusions after thinking about all of this:

1. During your time outside the States you change a lot and go through different experiences you wouldn't go through back home.
2. Other people's lives back in the States go on with or without you.  They may change or they may not.
3. You and people back in the States lives are often changing at different rates.  Some people go through big changes as they have children or get married, or they may not change little if at all.

In summary, you go through a lot mentally and emotionally when you make a visit home, and it´s not always easy to deal with.

Some people might consider it frivolous or unnecessary, but given the challenge of living abroad and returning home for a visit I like having a transition time of a few days in Miami before I return to Santiago.  It allows me the time and headspace to process my time visiting family and friends and also to mentally prepare for my return.

Miami.  People associate it with the beach, drinking, nightlife, and people with amazing bodies.  You can throw your worries away for a few days while you relax and escape for a bit.  And that's exactly what I feel I need.

My time here is spent relaxing on the beach, enjoying lunch with a huge margarita, walking around and exploring, and reflecting and writing this blog post from the balcony of where I'm staying.  

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here´s a visual representation of my time in Miami:

Out on the balcony updating the blog
organic pizza

Jonsie, the same open air taxi driver from last year.
Turns out he still has the same phone number.
The view from the 12th floor balcony of where I´m staying
It's time for me to pack and get something to eat before heading off to the airport.  Thanks for reading!


  1. I miss Miami. I actually grew up there before moving to Orlando as an adult and later NY. Miami Beach is so much fun. I miss the beach. I haven't had a chance to go back to the States since I moved to Argentina, but I get how friendships change over time. A lot of my close friends have lost touched with me over time as they move on with their lives (which unfortunately does not include me). Living abroad does have a way of changing you. Eventually you start to forget what your old life was like. I admit that I sometimes walk down memory lane through google map, which shows mostly up-to-date images of my old neighborhoods (yes, plural because I've had many haha). It shocks me when a store or restaurant I used to go to has gone out of business and been replaced by something completely different. Great article! Hope you have a safe journey.

  2. Thanks Jorge! Sorry for the late reply. I haven´t been very good about getting back on here to update.