going home: Ellie

Ellie and I met at university, when we lived together in halls (“dorms”) the first year, and then lived together another two years. She’s a knitting, tea-drinking, opinionated student worker who will make you feel welcome within thirty seconds of meeting her. She writes at her blog Surrounded By Clouds, and wrote a guest post for me here a few months back on being brave. I’m pleased to have her back to talk about her experience of going home…


Ellie CookSo first, where were you an expat and how long for? Why did you leave?
Johannesburg, South Africa – 10 months. I left because the job was only temporary, and I never intended to stay beyond that time.

What was the hardest thing about going “home”?
Missing good friends that I had made whilst I was there. The food and the weather were pretty hard to leave too!

What the the best thing about going “home”?
It was great to be back to family and friends and familiarity, but also, life in Jo’burg wasn’t always very easy – partly because it is hard, partly just because it’s different. The pleasure of living in a place where one can walk alone at night, or rely on the public transport system, or speak the same language as everyone nearby, is pretty wonderful.

Was there anything that really surprised you about your transition back?
I was surprised about how hard it was, and how much I missed South Africa. I had really looked forward to going home, but when I got there the differences were pretty shocking – least of which the temperature drop from 30+ degrees celsius to -3 degrees celsius.

What one tip would you give to expats preparing to move back?
Even if you are looking forward to going home, try to enjoy where you are until you leave. Take the time to see the things you wanted to see, do the things you wanted to do, and say proper goodbyes to the friends you have made.

If you could summarise your expat experience in three words, what would they be?
Hard, wonderful, life-changing.


We’re talking about going home after an expat experience today, part of my current blog series: 31 days to embrace expat life. Read the original post about going home here, or click here to see all posts in this series so far. Oh and if you’re wanting to stay up to date on all new posts, you can always subscribe, like me on facebook or follow me on twitter (I’m all about options!)…