Expect a range of responses when you finally return home from assignment. Each person’s circumstances differ but your state of mind might include a mix of:

Feeling flat

After the excitement of volunteering, you return home and… this is it? Nothing’s changed. New Zealand seems dreary and cheerless. Everyone wears black. You can’t believe the trivial things that preoccupy people. And everyone has so much stuff.

Re-entry ‘high’

It’s great to see everyone again. For ages you’ve been looking forward to seeing family and friends and visiting favourite places. Hopes and expectations are high, plans for the future bright.

Disillusionment

You’d been hoping to feel better. After everything you’ve been through, homecoming has been an anti-climax. Maybe you should have stayed away. At least on assignment you had a place, a role, and people appreciated what you were trying to do.

Relief

On the other hand, well-stocked supermarkets, clean tap water, no stifling heat, no power cuts – it’s great to be home. Everyone speaks English and no-one has an accent! At last, you can relaaaxx.

Estrangement

It’s hard to put the VSA experience into words, to give it a shape. No-one really understands what you’ve been through. You’ve changed but can’t put your finger on it – feeling more alert, alive, and seeing the world differently. But dislocated – on assignment you were always the outsider, the foreigner. Now you don’t fit in either. Where do you fit?

Anxiety

It’s a tough job market back home, and even tougher given you’ve been out of the loop. You’re a little older and HR departments aren’t interested in anyone over a certain age. The house has been neglected too and maintenance tasks have piled up. And it’s a nightmare connecting with first-world services such as telcos, internet providers, energy companies and banks. On assignment people had time for each other. Here it’s all rush, rush, rush. Oh, for the simple life!

Unsettled

Six months home, and the gloss of returning has well and truly worn off. Same old, same old. You need a challenge. You wonder if VSA has any more assignments you could do. You start looking at travel ads…