How did/do I feel?
If you are looking for road markers to help assess your own journeys -- signs to provide assurances or context to new and unfamiliar experiences - you will find value in only the most general of descriptions. The unfolding process is very individual.
Very early on I was more like a kid on Christmas day; a physicist dropped into the middle of a brand new reality; think of a biologist, zoologist, and botanist being dropped into the middle of the Amazon rain forest for a field trip.
However, after playing with all the new toys for a short time - seeing what I could and could not do - getting the fundamentals under control, I was generally focused and serious - learning and growing was a serious business - skills and understanding needed to be developed - I knew that was very important even if I did not know why.
Yes, a sense of freedom from constraint, amazement, and curiosity at what I was experiencing, but an equal sense of responsibility and humility just for having the opportunity to experience it. Also a strong sense of caution - I knew how easy it could be to lead myself down some self-referential path if I did not take logic, scientific method, and a strong dose of skepticism along for the trip. It would be easy to become self-limited (stuck in a belief trap) somewhere in the middle of the journey if I was not careful - like picking one's way slowly through a mine field - if you got too close to a mine, it wouldn't blow up - worse -- it would suck you in, capture your mind, silently, slowly, without your knowing. Belief traps are dangerous to your growth.
I knew I had been picked early, trained, set up for this adventure, then trained again after actively returning to NPMR. I knew that my experience had point and purpose, there was some endpoint, some goal that had been set, something planned by others for their own ends and reasons that they did not share with me; that my success was important but not assured - serious business. I was where I was supposed to be. I had no idea why, or what was to come. There was only success or failure -- nothing in-between --Failure was not an option.
I feel like a visitor in both PMR and NPMR - I live in the larger reality full time but have work to do both places, neither is home. Perhaps that is roughly equivalent to the "returning consultant" scenario you describe. There appears to be no specific subset I would call "home". I spend about equal time and am equally comfortable and functional in both PMR and NPMR. Actually, "both" is misleading - PMR is one reality frame while NPMR contains many reality frames. Visiting other PMRs feels like taking a trip to a foreign country - sometimes on business, sometimes as a sightseer, and sometimes to see old friends.