Deportation of your own accord: why emigrants return back
Probably, none of those who have experience of emigration will call it an easy experience. However, despite all the difficulties, most people who consciously leave their home country sooner or later settle down in a new place, acquire a profession and integrate into the local community. However, the percentage of those who return back is unchanged. Practically in any publication devoted to the life of emigrants from the post-Soviet space, one cannot do without stories in the style: “Why after ten years of living in the USA I returned to Russia” or “Why I preferred Kiev to New York”.
Some of these stories do not carry a negative message. On the contrary, “returnees” list the positive aspects of living abroad, celebrate those thingsthat they liked to emigrate, and indicate that the reason for the return is personal (longing for friends, discrepancy of mentalities, the habit of a different rhythm of life, etc.). However, there are also frequent cases of “dramatic” returns, when former emigrants publish angry “revelations” about the host country, describing the “wolf laws” of living abroad, insanity and meanness of the local population, and highlight such traits of Americans or Europeans as selfishness, indifference, stupidity , deceit and inability to be friends.
Such texts, in turn, cause no less negative reaction from those who remained in emigration. "Debaters" are branded as liars and propagandists (for the sake of justice, it’s worth saying that their stories, even the truthful ones, are really used by propaganda). Even those who believe in the reality of what has been described are called the authors of such texts as failures or naive idealists who believe that the new country is obliged to make them rich at the first approximation.
However, psychologists say: almost all immigrants pass through the stage of rejection, and sometimes even hatred towards a new country - including those who today have long been comfortable living abroad and stigmatizing “detractors” and “losers”. American researcher Kalervo Oberg Back in 1954, he derived the theory of the U-curve of adaptation, which, with a certain controversy, is still confirmed in most cases. According to this theory, an emigrant goes through several cycles when moving to a new country: from “tourist” euphoria and first love to disappointment, often reaching aggression and total rejection of a new country, and then to adaptation and integration.
At the same time, depending on a variety of personal factors, the stage of disappointment can be relatively short and shallow, and can last quite a long time and turn into a real depression.
There are also cases of "stuck" at this stage, when the emigrant does not withstand the psychological stress and comes back. In this case, the return at this stage often becomes as dramatic as the departure, and almost always entails a negative attitude towards the new country.
Another form of such “getting stuck” can be immersion in the Russian-speaking environment, moreover, in that part of it, which keeps itself apart from the local population, watches Russian television, most often supports the Kremlin’s policy and is hostile to the host country. This form of behavior is also a kind of break with the new country, “internal emigration” in the process of emigration.
In the process of passing this stage, many people begin to rethink their decision on emigration and at least briefly think about going back. Another thing is that then many go through this stage, overcome difficulties, adapt to a new life and forget about past doubts. And it often happens that at the stage of frustration the choice between “return” and “stay” depends on such seemingly trifles as having an understanding friend, valuable advice or a drop of luck.
In general, the main reason for returning is not to receive what you want from emigration, that is, disappointment with expectations. First of all, this, of course, concerns people who had clearly overstated expectations, idealized a new country and considered that “everyone here owes them.” It is very difficult to help such people and keep them from leaving, because if they do not rethink their installations, they will never find what they want in a new place. However, there are more "valid" reasons for breaking with the new country. I will try to give some advice for those who are faced with objective and surmountable difficulties. Of course, they do not pretend to universality, but, perhaps, will help someone to survive the crisis of emigration and not to make impulsive decisions on the wave of “emigre blues”.
This is a fairly frequent phenomenon in emigration, and not always difficulties in terms of professional achievements are the fault of the emigrants themselves. Even well-trained specialists have repeatedly complained to me that, for example, in some large American companies, immigrants are taking on positions that are clearly lower than those that correspond to their level and work experience. Some have to work for several years, as they say, “for a green card”, because before it is received, it can be problematic for those who come on a work visa to change jobs. Another problem for many is the inability to find a job without experience in a particular field in the United States, even if you have passed all the exams and received the appropriate licenses. For example, this applies to doctors.
- What to do?
Solve this situation with lightning speed, unfortunately, will not work. It is clear that the standard answer from the cycle “you need to work, learn, not feel sorry for yourself” will not help here - these problems most often arise not from those who do nothing at all, but just from those who struggle, study and work don't spare yourself. It is precisely the situation that a person works more than at home, but at the same time receives much less return than he would have been and beats the most painful self-esteem.
Psychologically, only a reassessment of the significance of your success can help here. Do not equate your American achievements with Russian. Sometimes it is important to tell yourself that another country is like another planet, where time and energy circulate somewhat differently, and any American success is worth a dozen of your successes in Russia. In a word, it is useful to build a new scale for assessing achievements and to increase in one’s eyes the significance of what has been done in emigration in comparison with previous life. Moreover, we should not forget that our “invalidity” is sometimes a direct consequence of the difference in mentality. In the US, it is not customary to wait for you to be noticed and appreciated, and it is important to learn how to bargain for the best share as soon as you gain the advantages that make such bargaining possible.
People are not people
Perception of locals as callous, indifferent, insincere, unfriendly, inhuman - this is a fairly common reason for returning home may be due to several reasons, for example:
- Specific case of offense. Even if you didn’t have high expectations that everyone you meet should be your friend, you may well encounter a real case of deception, abuse, meanness or “deception”. You can get jealous, your counterparties can openly neglect your interests and take advantage of your vulnerability as an immigrant, in the end, someone can really consciously harm you. From such things no one is immune.
However, the truth is that no one is immune from such things at home either! For all the difference of mentalities, human nature is about the same everywhere, and in every society there are cases of meanness, betrayal and slander. The only difference is that in their homeland they are experienced completely differently than in emigration.
The fact is that, living at home, we rarely use the concept of "country" as such. If you are not a staunch patriot and do not start building relationships with the state from an early age, you most often perceive your life fragmentary: here is the yard where you grew up, here is the school where you studied, here is family, neighbors, friends, beloved , colleagues. Therefore, the habit of transferring personal insults to the whole world usually passes in adolescence. An adult does not perceive the insult inflicted by a particular person as a blow from the "world", "universe" or "country". He clearly realizes that he was betrayed by a very specific person, and her deed is absolutely not worth it to leave the country, especially if your abuser is not a civil servant.
However, in emigration many things are perceived differently. At the first stage, many tend to romanticize and personalize a new country. Accordingly, each offense in this case is subconsciously perceived as rejection from the entire country, each observation should be summarized to everyone, each new blow looks fatal. This is especially true of people of a “patriotic” warehouse who sincerely want to find a new homeland in emigration. Such people, in principle, tend to personify their relations with the state, the land, the people or the country as a whole, filling them with categories that characterize interpersonal relations (love, loyalty and so on).
However, a high degree of anthropomorphism and personalization of relations with a country and their excessively emotional perception can lead to consequences typical of interpersonal relations. Simply put, love can be undivided. In practice, this means that a person did not calculate his strength and overvalued appreciated his ability to materialize in his chosen state.
- What to do?
Try to “fragment” your life, as it was at home, that is, to separate each of its spheres from others. For example, if you live in the United States, try to make yourself American friends who you can trust. Then, if you are offended, say, by your colleagues or bosses, you no longer have the feeling that the Americans have “offended you”. You will already know in practice that Americans are different. Try not to romanticize and personalize the new country too much. In the end, a country is an abstraction, and love for any country almost always turns out to be undivided. But this does not mean that we should not love specific people who need our love.
- The difference of mentality and reactions in comparison with "our". It really is. Foreigners react to many things differently, they have other habits and customs. It is often very difficult to understand what they really think, it is impossible to determine when they are telling the truth, and this misunderstanding sows distrust and exacerbates loneliness.
- What to do?
In this case, it is useful to find friends in the diaspora with the same mentality as yours. It is best to choose the environment of people with a friendly and understanding attitude towards you and at the same time - with a positive attitude towards the host country. At this stage, it is better to avoid people living in a state of “internal gap” with the country, negatively related to it and withdrawn in the diaspora, since they only aggravate your crisis. Equally recommended to stay away from lovers of morals.
Unfortunately, some emigrants from the post-Soviet space still have a completely Soviet habit of giving uninvited advice and asserting themselves at the expense of others. Such people boast of their “success”, condescendingly teach “losers” and in the style of completely Russian hurray-patriotism teach them “how to love their homeland”, even if in this case we are talking about a foreign “homeland”.
It is important to understand that the goal of such people is often only to assert themselves. They do not care about your well-being, and therefore you should not allow them to influence your life and self-esteem.
- Longing for very specific people. If you feel that there are places or people in your homeland, without which you are not able to feel happy, maybe in this case it is really better to return. At the same time, you can well keep in your heart a feeling of gratitude for the country of emigration for helping her to understand what is important to you and to overestimate some things.
- What to do?
In this case, almost nothing can be done. However, it is better to give yourself time and try not to tie the possibility of your personal happiness to other people. Still, happiness is first and foremost an internal state.
- You do not understand because of the language barrier. It is important to remember that the language barrier can be a defensive reaction in case you encounter any of the factors listed above.
- What to do?
It is possible that the reluctance to speak the language of the host country is for you only a way to isolate yourself from the locals whom you do not trust for one reason or another. In all other cases, the language barrier is removed with time, and it does not depend on whether you have the ability to a foreign language. Many people told me that they couldn’t force themselves to take English courses, but then they found interesting business and like-minded people, and they had such a strong need to communicate on this topic with other professionals in the same field that they forgot exactly what language they speak. Important and interesting people became an excellent incentive to improve language skills.
Well, the last. The country (or state, or maybe just the city) to which you come may simply not fit you. This is neither good nor bad, but if this is true, your discomfort will not go away with time, as it happens in most cases. In this case, you will constantly feel that this country is not for you, and then it would be better for you to look for something else.
However, it is important to remember that the country of unsuccessful emigration is not to blame for the discrepancy that occurred - just as you are not to blame for it either. And remember: only you yourself can decide what exactly is best for you.
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