So long, Canada
Have you ever heard about Return Syndrome? The term was coined by Discio Nakagawa, a Brazilian researcher, to define the frustration former immigrants feel once they return to their countries of origin. Nakagawa, who died in 2011, studied the case of Brazilians who returned to their homeland after a period of work in Japan. Since his pioneer study, many other papers have been written about this syndrome, which is more common than most people realize, and which affects former residents of many countries, including Canada.
Nostalgic feelings, cultural shock, frustration and disillusionment with the country of origin are identified as some of the contributing factors of Return Syndrome. Research has shown that an immigrant adapts quickly to the new country, usually within three to six months. However, readapting to the home country can take up to two years.
Amanda Marques, a Brazilian from Sao Paulo, spent eight months in Vancouver studying English and once she returned to Brazil she felt an unexpected shock.
“When I arrived back all I wanted to do was to go back to Vancouver. I felt frustrated and was in a bad mood for many days. Everything I saw in Sao Paulo I compared with Vancouver and it reminded me of the good times there,” she explained.
In a presentation at the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp), Nakagawa explained that the turbulence experienced when a person returns to their home country can have serious consequences including depression. Nakagawa said that these feelings are usually unearthed in tandem with a discontentment with the country. “They return with different expectations and say that here [Brazil] is very disorganized and dirty,” he noted.
“My biggest challenge was how to get used to the daily routine in Brazil again, not my daily activities, but rather the corruption and social problems that [have] plagued the country for many years without change.” This statement is from Marcelo Duarte, a Brazilian from Campo Bom in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil. He also came to Vancouver to study English and had a difficult time re-adapting to his routine, even though he had already studied abroad before in places such as Europe and Asia. Today he works as an export assistant and doesn’t hide his feelings about Brazil after his experiences abroad.
How can this problem be solved? When you are in Canada you may not think about this, but if you prepare for “reentry” it might make the transition easier.
According to the Kaeru Project, which helps in the reintegration of Brazilian students, returning to the home country, it is one of the most difficult challenges a student will encounter. Dyones Thommazi Torque, who is currently studying in Vancouver, believes he is going to encounter some difficulties when he returns to Curitiba.
“I want to live life to the fullest here in this amazing city. I have a few more months to go so am not going to worry about it now. I know it is not going to be easy, but I don’t want to think about it now,” he said.
After returning to your home country, it might help if you keep in contact with your friends in Vancouver, and even keep some of the habits you had during your stay in Canada. Marques, for example, turned to technology for help. “I downloaded an app that lets me listen to the radio station I always listened to in Vancouver so I keep informed about the news there and practice English at the same time,” she said.
If the problems persist for a long time, it is advisable to seek psychological help.
Photo by Lucas Socio