Should I go back to Switzerland? is the opening question by author Chantal Panozzo in his Wall Street Journal article “The Eternal Expatriate: Why Many Repatriates Feel The Desire to Go Back Abroad.”

The article continues, “I ask this question every time potential American employers narrow their eyes when I ask for four weeks of vacation time, the legal Swiss minimum. I ask this question every time a motorist cuts me off when I’m riding a bike around my Chicago suburb. And I ask this question every month, when I insure my toddler’s health at a rate four times the Swiss cost of doing so.”

. . .

“According to Dr. Nan M. Sussman, Professor of Psychology and Dean, College of Staten Island, City University of New York, the better you’ve adjusted overseas, the more difficult it is to repatriate.

. . .

Dr. Sussman’s research confirms that it takes at least a year to feel comfortable at home again. In addition, she adds that a successful repatriation also largely depends on the country the expat is returning to.

According to Dr. Sussman, expats returning to Hong Kong, for example, have few problems repatriating. Hong Kong society is welcoming of people with various cultural identities. It used to be a British colony, most people are of Chinese ethnicity, and many have gone overseas. The culture also welcomes a variety of work habits.

On the other hand, Dr. Sussman says, the U.S. is not very flexible about cultural identity. “You have to act 100% American or you’re viewed suspiciously,” she says.”

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