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Expat Exercises for Re-entry to Life in London

Years ago when I worked for Habitat for Humanity International, re-entry was a phrase often used of the International Partners, staff returning from a work trip abroad. It stands to reason that after being away from a country, one needs to re-adapt to the culture, etc.

An expat of nearly twenty years, I can attest to that. Casually, I often use the word re-entry when returning to the US, even sometimes stopping over for a night or two in a city of choice, before joining friends and/or family for a good down home visit.

Only on this last visit, however, somewhat made in haste, even if it did last over two weeks, I didn’t have time to think about adjusting to time zones, water, food, language and so on. I hit the ground running, literally and didn’t stop rushing around until after I returned to the UK.

It was then that I began to think of re-entry, if you will. Suddenly, my body was no longer tolerant of the few hours of sleep I got each night, the paces that I put it through daily or the inappropriate food I lived on, including honeybuns and coffee cake, most days.

This past Monday, the cinnamon brioche, the English honeybun I teased to a friend, did not cut the cake. Suddenly, I am gluten intolerant again. Furthermore, I acutely understand the value of daily exercise again – something I didn’t bother with at all in the US.

Yet this morning while exercising, even if it was challenging, I felt a freedom that I hadn’t felt it more than two weeks. That is when it occurred to me that exercise was somehow freeing. And I quietly said to my personal trainer, Judit Ressinka, that if only I could get her to the US to do at least one session with each of my sisters, I felt certain that they too could experience the freedom that I was experiencing.

Judit felt that I was on to something. Though exercise is often associated with alleviating physical stress, it also has the power to alleviate mental turmoil, too. When going through a particularly stressful time, I pointed out, we are trapped in a small world, which drives us, and keeps us on a bumpy road.

Exercise, Judit agreed, makes for a smoother ride, if you will. It has a way of getting the blood and oxygen flowing, properly and harmoniously.

Of course, one session won’t cut the cake, any more than my cinnamon brioche did, but a consistent programme will make a big difference in how the body endures.

Even I am truant from time to time like the two weeks in the US, no doubt the rigorous programme of training once per week with Judit and running three times, sees me through arduous times.

Now back to re-entry. What’s for supper?