A virtual workshop recently hosted by two Cranfield University Research Fellows looked into the ‘dark side’ of repatriation after working and living abroad in connection with the Global Mobility of Employees (GLOMO) project.

Emilija Oleškevičiūtė and Monique Raupp, Research Fellows at Cranfield University and three years into their respective PhDs, have both moved to the UK to live, work and study. Using their personal experiences of being ‘globally mobile’, they focused on expatriation and the lesser-discussed negative impact of employees returning to their home country after a time working abroad.  

The projects are EU-funded and in association with GLOMO – an international research project aiming to generate knowledge about the global mobility phenomenon and increase the efficiency and benefits of labour mobility around the world.

The international workshop, hosted virtually at the end of January, was open to all globally mobile workers and those working with them. Mariana Barros and Rūta Savickaitė joined as guest speakers, drawing on their personal experiences of repatriation and the negative impact they felt.

Mariana Barros, an inter-culturalist whose work includes repatriation cultural training, first experienced ‘reverse culture shock’ when she repatriated back to Brazil aged 16 after a one-year exchange student placement in France. “When I returned to Brazil, I felt like I didn’t belong anymore. Once I understood that reverse culture shock was real, it saved my life – I realised that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and it was actually very normal.” 

Rūta Savickaitė, a researcher from Lithuania, who repatriated after nine years of living, studying and working in the Netherlands, gave attendees some advice: “Give yourself time to adjust when you return and manage your expectations of the culture and people you are returning to.”

Cranfield University is an international community with a global network of students, staff and businesses. During a typical year, academics deliver courses in 45 countries outside of the UK and graduates from over 100 countries choose Cranfield for their studies.

Emilija Oleškevičiūtė, a Lithuanian native who has previously lived and studied in Czech Republic, The Netherlands and Germany, said: “We are very proud of how well this workshop brought people in similar situations together, discussing their emotions about being globally mobile. The comments made will certainly help my ongoing work in this field.” 

Monique Raupp, Research Fellow in the School of Management at Cranfield, whose work focuses on expatriation to different types of hostile environments, added: “We had some really great, constructive feedback from the session. The overwhelming feeling from the workshop was that, although it can be tough to be globally mobile in some ways, it is mostly a worthwhile experience that none of us would change.”