Meet Mindy - a Returned Expat

Every few months, Nexpat will chronicle another returning expat's journey. This first installation of interviews Mindy Warguez was kind enough to provide me with her return journey. She provides a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and generously selfless review of her challenges and what she discovered upon her return. I hope it provides inspiration to you all, as it did to me.

I met Mindy in the Philippines a couple of years ago. Mindy was stationed there with her husband, who was deployed to the Philippines for a couple of years in a program that is quite unique in his organization. Mindy and her three kids were planning to return to rural North Carolina and it was clear Mindy was thinking about the challenges, but also, with her outgoing personality ready to explore something new.

What was the hardest thing about returning to the U.S. and why?

Feeling so different from people that I once felt very connected to. It was difficult to relate to friends and families’ non-serious complaints and problems, and it was hard to not have someone that could relate to my family’s experiences and me. I felt very isolated, disconnected, and far away from home, even though technically I was home. The innocent comments from friends and family assuming I “must be so glad to be out of that developing country” were hurtful, and people could not understand why I was not overly celebrating our return “home”. It was a tough process to work through.

What was your least expected hurdle upon returning? How did you overcome it?

Missing the “everyday adventure” of living in a different country. As much as I rolled my eyes at the ridiculous traffic, funny phrases that made no sense, or searching 3-4 different stores to find a certain recipe item, I now really miss the “everyday adventure” of it. I know that when I need something, I’m going to drive to the store, park with no hassle, find the item on the shelf, pay, and be back home in 30 minutes or less. No inappropriate conversations about how tall or large I am, nobody trying to convince me to pay them $3 dollars to wash the car while I’m inside, nobody telling me that tomato sauce is the same thing Taco Sauce, and nobody trying to sell me coat racks from the middle of the highway. I miss saying, “Well that just happened!” or telling the family at the end of the day, “You’ll never guess what happened to me today…”