Yeah. For expats (and especially an homebody expat like me) they really do.
Wanna know why?
Because you're leaving the comforts of home and your own space. Because you're leaving your pets. Because you're leaving the familiarity of what you are adjusted to and your own routine. For me, I'm adjusted to being pretty independent. I rely on public transport, walk to get my groceries, I take my baby with me everywhere so I don't rely on any sort of childcare, Aaron and I make our own decisions for us because there isn't anyone else in the equation. We travel a certain way and it works for us and we like it. Because you leave expat friends and Scottish friends, and while it's only for a month, it was difficult to leave.
And being in America for a visit wasn't easy either. We have moved on in the (nearly) two years we've been in Scotland, had new experiences and gone through some really tough experiences without our American "village", which resulted in us learning just how strong we are as a couple. We've made new friends, and seen so many new places it's almost difficult to count, and as a result immersing ourselves again in the American culture was a bit of culture shock. We were in a very different place than our friends and family and relating to them was difficult.
In fact, I found that relating to family and friends was the most difficult part of our trip.
I felt very alienated. It was as if everything was the same from when we left, but I am so very different.
I had to adjust to riding in a car and dealing with traffic again. I had to make my plans around other people, I had to figure out which baby wipes and snacks were the best choice from literally hundreds of different choices, about 99 of which we don't have here. I had to remember to use American words instead of British ones (and then I just gave up because nappies and take-away are apparently ingrained in my brain). I had to remember to buckle my child up in her carseat (which she hated) and remember to park in the shade so she wouldn't hate her carseat even more (which didn't work). I had to remember that bathroom light switches are inside the bathroom, not outside, which confused me countless times (don't laugh. It's true). I had to learn that living abroad is incredible for us, but that a lot of people have a hard time relating to that. I had to remember that I had childcare and could actually leave my baby with family and go out on dates with my husband (until Georgie woke up with nightmares). And lastly, I had to remember to drive on the right side of the road, quite literally. Vital thing to remember, there!
But in the course of that month and in the middle of all those tough adjustments, something happened. By the time we were ready to leave, boarding the plane in Rhode Island was just as difficult as it had been to get on the plane to America. Saying goodbye to everyone and not knowing when we'd see them again was rough. Knowing we were going back, alone, was even rougher. I had come to rely on having friends and family around for impromptu coffee dates or for watching Georgie on our impromptu dessert dates at Denny's (for wifi), and I will definitely miss watching Georgie interact with her grandparents and cousins. For us, America is comfortable, and after a few weeks, we started to readjust and feel more at home in our native country.
In the end, the month long trip was incredibly wonderful. Seeing friends and family and talking in person was exactly what I needed, seeing familiar places, eating familiar foods (oh Chic-Fil-A I miss you already!), using a dryer and television, having the convenience of so many babysitters and people we love nearby... the list goes on. I don't regret taking a month long holiday because the pros outweighed the cons. It firmly established in our minds that Scotland is where we are meant to be for the time being and it also firmly established that someday we will go back to America and it will be incredible. But it also identified the struggles that we will face, and actually gave us a bit of a heads up on how to deal with them. In the end, I came to know very strongly the expats' curse: that home is really two very, very different countries. Home is America and home is Scotland, and I love them both.