Going ‘home’ after a year of living in another country and culture is not always easy. My single, extroverted, newly college grad self that moved to Turkey the first time would thrive on going ‘home’ and would love to visit friends and eat the southern foods I missed so much! While I was thriving off of the time I spent in my own culture, my finances were not (Thanks, Dad and Mom for the support and feeding me!).
Being our first time to go home since moving to Turkey a year ago, it seemed to be more stressful as I thought about finances or all the logistics of travel, dinners, and visits. Yes, some of it was by choice, but the craziness of travel is always worth it in my mind!
Before ever leaving the states, one of our goals for our first 3-year timeline in Turkey was to travel home every year, and we were willing to make it work (and use our airline miles to do so!). We know that in the future it may not be as affordable nor flexible enough for us to do so. The fact that we have 7 nieces and nephews is a strong reason as well!
While we were not in ‘need’, we definitely had some pretty sweet friends provide in super awesome ways. Which got me thinking about how other state-side (or native friends) may be interested in how they could also bless returning expats in the future!
That being said, here are 8 ways you can bless your expats that are returning home:
1. Invite them to dinner or just bring them dinner.
Jason and I don’t have kids yet and it was usually easier to visit our friends by going to their home. To be honest, it was sometimes exhausting. If you are able to, ask your expat, (especially if they have children) what would be easier for them. Even better ask them if there is a favorite food they would like to have.
2. Ask good questions and really want to hear the answer.
There are some visits that are just easier than others. But the ones we most enjoy are people who ask good questions. Don’t know what those are? I wrote about 10 thoughtful questions to ask your returning expat.
3. Welcome Home basket with their favorite goodies (and some of your own!) – (OR even JUST A NOTE to say hello!)
If other expats are like me, then they will have a running list of items or food they miss from their native country. For me, it is dried mangos, blueberries, sweet potatoes, Target dollar section, stationary… Just like you prepare gift baskets for new moms or new homeowner, a basket of goodies with American snacks and treats is never a bad idea!
4. Gift Cards for groceries or restaurants
Expats move around a lot on their visits. And if they don’t have a home-base like we did, then that means they will have to eat on the road as they travel. Consider a gift card to a restaurant or visa card for however they want to use it.
5. Online shopping gift cards (ex. Amazon)
Turkey is great and we can get most everything we need. However, there may only be 1 kind of it. And the art and craft store, Hobby Lobby? Not a thing here. Consider a gift card to store you know your expat like to buy from when they return home. Amazon, Target, movie theater, gas cards, etc. are just the start!
For the extremely generous or able givers out there:
6. Provide housing –
Our family and friends were so sweet to offer us places to stay. Especially our longer 3 weeks in Iowa, a friend (as well as family) offered us their basement apartment to spread out in – with a living room, bedroom, and bathroom, it was a place we were able to be alone and rest if we needed too. On the other hand, if you are willing and your expat friends don’t take you up on the offer, don’t be offended! For some expats, staying with family can be more stressful than not staying with family. We are just trying to figure out what will be restful for us taking time away from foreign culture while trying to see everyone as much as possible.
7. Provide a car –
Rental cars in the states can be pricey! We did rent a car to drive from New Orleans, Louisiana to Des Moines, Iowa, and National was the best we found at $550 with no one-way fee! But it was really nice to know that we didn’t have to pay for a month’s worth of rental car.
8. Share airline miles –
Some people used credit card rewards for hotels, Jason and I used them for airline miles. This summer Catie was able to fly home and back for around $100 thanks to airline miles! If you have miles that will expire, consider donating them to an expat friend.
Our family and friends were so very generous with us! (Thank you!) They have also asked us good questions when we return home. I hope sharing what they did for us could encourage others who may not know what to do for their visiting or returning expat!
- Do you know someone that is living in another country?
- How often do they make it back to the states?
- Do you want to do something thoughtful but don’t know how? What blessing stood out to you?
- What other ways do you like to bless those who come back home?
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P.S. – This is the first post of a 6 part series called EXPAT GOING HOME SERIES. Stay tuned for the following articles:
Going Home Series: 10 thoughtful questions to ask your returning expats
Going Home Series: 8 ways you can bless your returning expats
Going Home Series: 6 ways to make your expat visit ‘home’ more enjoyable
Going Home Series: 6 practical ways to destress your next expat visit ‘home’
Going Home Series: Self-care and why it is important for expat returning home
Going Home Series: Managing expectations for expats returning home