a difficult course for expats


Finding your marks, even in your country of origin, after several years abroad can be very difficult, psychologically, administratively and professionally. Explanations.

Expatriation is an experience that sometimes lasts only a few years or a few months, especially when you leave with a contract or a visa limited in time. Even those who follow a series of expatriations – the “serial expats” – generally return to France, more or less briefly, before leaving. We therefore asked our readers how they experienced their return to France.

A forced or hasty return: an additional ordeal

The return is sometimes something that we undergo, of which we did not choose the moment. Very many expatriates have experienced this situation with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the case of Clémence, who left to travel Argentina by bike with her companion Facundo:

After four months of confinement, first in a tent in the garden-orchard of a generous family from northern Argentina (Article in Courrier Expat in April 2020), then in Patagonia at Facu’s parents, my heart blew my head to follow my instincts. Leaving the better to come back. ”

Clémence spent some time earning money by preparing and marketing the nuts for her partner’s uncle. But, tired, she was overtaken by the economic crisis affecting Argentina and decided to return to France:

This work has helped me, but not enough to develop me. The non-existent professional prospects in Argentina for the Frenchwoman that I am, my bleak financial situation and the uncertain world future led me to buy this plane ticket. ”

It is also with a heavy heart that Lila, who left for Australia as part of the Working Holiday Program (PVT), took the road to France.

The departure was sudden and painful:

I had to leave everything I had built brutally, not being able to say goodbye to most of the people I had met, and just as many of my plans were starting to materialize […] I felt a deep sense of unfinished business, which I think a lot of PVTists returning to France must share. I do not regret having left Australia because I ran the risk of falling ill or finding myself in great financial precariousness on the other side of the world, even more now that Melbourne is re-confined. However, I know I won’t be able to return to Australia to live that easily.

The PVT is valid for twelve months for young people aged 18 to 35 and can be renewed if we work eighty-eight days on the farm, which I have not had the opportunity to do. When the PVT is granted, we have one year to enter Australian territory, then we can spend a year there from the day of our arrival. To my knowledge, the Australian government has no plans at this time to pause or extend the visas already granted. Which means that my visa will expire next October even though I spent less than six months in Australia. The same goes for people I know who arrived in January, even February or even March, and who were forced to leave at the same time as me: in order to limit the spread of the virus, Australian borders should not not reopen to foreigners before 2021. ”

A difficult adaptation on a professional level

But even when the comeback has been decided and prepared for a long time, things are not necessarily easy. Chloe spent her teenage years in southern Spain and then did her higher education in France. Once she obtained her diplomas, she decided to start her career in England and then in Luxembourg, before returning to France. But this return turned out to be complicated, in particular administratively but also and above all professionally. She tells :

Having always worked in English, it was difficult for me to adapt to a French-speaking environment, to force myself not to judge those colleagues who ask you what an “update” is or to try to make conversation with this colleague François le Français who will feel obliged to discuss absolutely everything and more particularly when you have not asked him anything. There is also the issue of presenteeism in France. I was used to the Luxembourgish mentality: arriving early to finish the work day early (the one who stays late is the one who is not efficient) but in France, I find myself the first to leave at 5.30 p.m. judging looks from my colleagues who sometimes allow themselves to say “already? ! ” or give me a phone call afterwards to ask me to work exceptionally at 7 pm!

I also faced a harsh reality when looking for a job in Paris: it is difficult to find a job when you cannot include a prestigious school on your CV – it does not matter whether you have five years of experience in multiple multinationals abroad. We are a long way from recruiting as in England where those who work well can climb the ladder without being discriminated against by their studies.

Whether or not we rushed home, the return seems a difficult course to tackle. There are many resources for this, Facebook support groups and firms specializing in coaching “re-pat”, returning expats.

One thing in common: the desire to leave

The readers who told us about their experiences had very diverse backgrounds. They were sometimes employees, sometimes freelance, sometimes living in Asia, sometimes in Latin America or Asia. But all had in common to find the return to France difficult and to want to leave.

Adrien, who has lived in the United States for five years, wants “Set off again in a few years but for a different country”. Lila is also considering returning to Australia, but learning from her first stay. Chloe exclaims: “I already have desires elsewhere and I understand why my parents made the decision to move abroad before me!” As for Clémence, she keeps morale and the same course: “Despite the change of plan, the goal remains the same. Get back on the road, together, to discover life. ”


Launched in April 2016 and intended for French expatriates and expatriate candidates, Courrier Expat offers information drawn from the international press on the professional and personal environment of French people living abroad, on the


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