Living Abroad Changes You

You prepare for the change of leaving and embracing a new culture, new country, new life….you don’t necessarily prepare for returning even if it’s just for a visit. It’s considered reverse culture shock….I am currently in the middle of this and I am irritated to the max.

No one around you understands why you are chomping at the bit to return back to your life. To a different country. A different life. A different culture.

I have a better way of life. I have grown accustomed to a different life.

It felt weird driving today. It felt weird sitting in the passenger seat and seeing people use and follow traffic laws. Things that would have bothered me prior to my move no longer phases me. I don’t feel rushed but everyone around me is in a hurry to go nowhere and do nothing. I had to wash dishes and make my bed, now I’m about to go clean the bathroom and vacuum the floor. Wait what? Sitting around watching TV….man look I need something to do I need my village I need my new life. The food is literally making me sick. I haven’t been able to hold food down outside of breakfast. Pretty sure I’m gonna be a vegetarian before it’s all said and done. People are legit still doing the same thing they were doing when I left a year ago.

I went to a pizza buffet and the same lady served me today that served me last year.

It feels weird being on social media in the same time zone. I miss Talabat. I miss my city still being awake all time of night and day.

Summertime is always hard as a teacher because everyone else still works so image being a teacher on vacation back home after spending a year abroad…..I am ready to pull all my hair out.

I don’t do well outside of my personal space for too long and I haven’t been home in my flat since July 1st. I am supposed to stay here in the states until August 10th and I trying to plan an early exit.

America is not what it is all cracked up to be.

I’m tired of answering questions and seeing shocked faces when I tell them I love it overseas and have NO intentions of returning.

I need to be around like minded people and home is no longer that.

I am shifting into my purpose and the new me and where I am meant to be. I am happy.  I am ready for year 2 and beyond.

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Zanzibar

Look this was paradise. I stayed the majority of the time on the beach. I did not need to leave the beach at ALL. It was pure bliss.

I did visit Prison Island, saw some large tortoises, rode a speedboat and didn’t vomit or get seasick. Walked around Stone town avoiding the hustlers at every corner. Learned some history about Zanzibar and their famous doors. They were influenced by Arabs and Indians.

Zanzibar relies on tourism. So everything is imported into the city from Nairobi at a higher cost. So the same things I saw in Nairobi were in Zanzibar but it was 3 times higher. I get it though so I ain’t mad at it. So I saved many coins on this trip but it made me long for Nairobi.

I was able to see people fishing and picking various items from the ocean. It was amazing to see them going out into the water and sit in the water and live off the land. They weren’t trying to sell what they caught. They caught it and took it home. It was a few out there that were going to cook and sell what they caught. The beach was lined with people hustling to sell you something. You had the occasional person trying to sell you a tour but they were not allowed to come onto the property.

I was able to see the moon rising which was a pretty red color. The sky was clear to see the stars and the constellations. It was all very peaceful, calming, relaxing and beautiful. I definitely want to go back.

Mombasa

I’m not in Nairobi any more and I don’t know how to feel about that.

Mombasa is a straight tourist trap…..let me back all the way up the beaches along the coast are for tourist. This is not the place where you are gonna mix and mingle with locals unless they are trying to hustle and sell you something. Which I am not mad at. I totally understand. Upon departing the plan you could feel the shift in the atmosphere and you knew right away you are not in Nairobi, it almost felt you weren’t in Kenya anymore. I don’t like to compare and contrast places because I want to experience it fully but baby I want to go back home to Nairobi. I’m gonna keep an open mind throughout my trip.

 

Mombasa turned out to be an okay trip. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the beach. I finally left the resort and went to the mall. I had a fish therapy spa treatment.

Let me take a moment to explain: I thought you just take your shoes off and they stick your foot in the water. NOPE….she washed my feet and then stuck my foot in the water….I can’t even explain….It did tickle. It felt like little shocks on your feet and legs. It was 20 minutes in the water. Once it was finished she dried my feet and massaged my legs and feet. I would definitely do it again.

The resort had entertainment nightly and people were around to sell you various items.
You really did not need to leave the property.

Mombasa was not a memorable trip I didn’t partake in any of the popular sites because I was still on my high from Nairobi thinking it would be a similar experience.

 

Nairobi

I think I’m in love.
Here’s what I am loving the most about Nairobi, they have managed to hold onto their culture and land. I am not overwhelmed with McDonald’s and Starbucks. I can see little boys and men herding their cows, goats, and/or donkeys (granted how they were doing it was illegal but still) I look to the left and see a giraffe. I keep looking and BAM some ostriches oh wait is that a zebra…..wait look over there that’s a baboon. The city is built around the national park so the park area is not damaged or secluded. You leave the airport and to the left is the national park and the animals are roaming free.

Day 1

The driver asked if I wanted to eat….um yes sweetheart I haven’t eaten since breakfast on the plane. I’ll come back to discuss the flight. He asked if I wanted Burger King or KFC um no sir no American food. He took me this restaurant where I was able to sit outside in the cool breeze and eat my lunch and sip my wine. It was a delicious buffet. The only thing I know for a fact I ate was ribs. I had this wonderful soup I almost didn’t eat but my waiter brought me a bowl. (mushroom and red snapper with something else) I almost drank the whole bowl. The was music. An artist had his art on display for you to purchase.

I went to visit Karen Blixen Museum. If you haven’t read or seen the movie or book Out of Africa, please do so. Karen is main character in the book.  Now here is where I got a little agitated. Here you have this white woman from Denmark come to Kenya and buy a city worth of land. I ain’t knocking the hustle but it’s one of those things that bothers me to see other people come in and capitalize on other people land. There is now an Asian problem in African where they coming over to build and they are staying. Kenya now recognizes a group of Asians as part of Kenya and they have their own tribe/community.

 

Another thing I learned every Kenyan knows at least 3 languages. English, Swahili and their mother tongue (there are 42 of those…well no it’s not 44 and each of those 44 have subgroups and various dialects) Agitated again because in the states learning another language is not a requirement and it’s barely encouraged. Yet you look around and people are naturally learning 3 languages on purpose.

I went to the giraffe conservatory. This is where Giraffe Manor is located. The giraffes are just walking around and you can feed them. Point once again the natural habitat is preserved.

 

I did not do a good job today of taking pictures. I was too busy taking it all in and enjoying my surroundings.

Day 2

We went to the Nairobi Museum. It was nice to see the history of Kenya, slightly depressing to see the colonialism but this is life and colonialism is real. The country gained independence in 1963 so big picture that wasn’t that long ago. The country is still rich with culture. I can only hope it remains that way.

I ate REAL talipia today not that mess they sell in the states that will kill you. This fish comes from the coast in Lake Victoria and it actually helps prevent malaria. Talapia is a popular fish eaten here and I must say it was delicious.

We visited Snake park…which was interesting to see the different types of snakes that exist in Kenya and in Africa in general. I mean really a whole park which was really a small walking area, but still show off what ya got.

Today was good day tomorrow….SAFARI!!!!!

Day 3

Safari Time major takeaways

  1. the African Buffalo can take down and kill a Lion
  2.  the giraffe can kick a lion one time and the lion will die

My childhood is ruined and I need a moment to reflect on the fact that the king of the jungle can be taken out by a buffalo and a giraffe

Hunting is illegal in Kenya. The only way you are allowed to kill an animal is if you are in danger. A real life, life or death situation…kill or be killed. If the wildlife attacks a human the wildlife must be put down to prevent further attacks.

Conversational takeaways

  1. Kenyans think the playing field is level for African American and the news is not showing the real America but America ain’t showing the real Africa either. Go figure
  2. Kenyans are going through the same struggles we are in America. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The famous people are being taken advantage of example: soccer players are offered all this money to play and they blow it all on crap and do not give back to community…when all is said and done they have nothing to show for it
  3. Interracial relationships are frowned upon among the older generations, accepted by the women but not by the men.
  4. I can buy property and retire in Kenya with no problems
  5. The Asians and Chinese are coming and not leaving because they promise to built the railway or upgrade the railway system but bring all their people over to do it.
  6. Africans do not hate African Americans
  7. Kenya, Nairobi specifically was warm and welcoming. Not once did I feel like a tourist who didn’t belong.
  8. there are other black people here who have come over for various reasons and have decided to stay.
  9. it does not get hotter than 32-36 degrees Celsius….and in the winter it does not get colder than 15 degrees Celsius…..I need another moment to appreciate this weather
  10. America and Kenya have more in common than we think. Example you have those that have and those that do not, those that have keep for themselves because they were taught it’s not enough to go around so I got mine you better figure out how to get yours
  11. Nairobi is mostly agriculture and the factories they do have is for assembly purposes
  12. I will be back and I can definitely see myself retiring here

 

SN: I didn’t add pictures because one I didn’t want to and two I wanted to verbally express my trip to the best of my ability.

 

Reflection

It’s been a little over a year since I accepted a job teaching overseas.

I don’t even know where to begin or how to begin.

It’s been full of ups and downs. I’ve had some good days and bad days. The hardest days have been after I sent my daughter to the states. This is the first time we’ve apart for this extended period of time. She went to states on May 9 and I won’t see her again until July 15. I’ve been without my baby for a weekend, a couple of hours and a week but a whole month and half. When I dropped her off at the airport I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to upset her. My brother told me she silently cried on the plane for about an hour and half. I speak to her daily. Thank goodness for video chat. My next hardest days were the deaths in the family. Elise lost her grandpa and that was hard to process for various reasons. There were some people from my home church who died. Funerals are needed for closure and I am unable to do that. Missing Thanksgiving and Christmas was hard but I didn’t cry and mope around about it.

I have enjoyed my job and teaching once again. The students are the same as they would have been in the states. The biggest difference is I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck behind performance. I don’t stress about planning and people coming into my classroom judging. I don’t take any work home. I am able to plan at school and gather my materials ALL at school. I love my TA. I stay to myself concerning my co-workers. I’m not that person. I’m not here to change the world. I’m not even really here to make friends (at work).

Homeschooling was a journey in and of itself. However at the end of the school year and through assessments my daughter is above grade level in math and reading. She will continue doing school work over the summer. 

Travel has been amazing. We’ve been to Thailand, London, and Dubai. I travelled to Kenya and Tanzania. 

I am looking forward to next school year and everything else. 

Ramadan

Okay quick information on Ramadan.

Ramadan 2017 began in the evening of Friday, May 26 and ends in the evening of Saturday, June 24.

At sundown Friday May 26, 2017 Ramadan began. Here’s what this means somewhere around 3:45 am Saturday morning fasting began and fasting would end around 6:45 pm Saturday evening.

Now here’s what this means for me as an expat. I have to conduct myself in a certain manner and be mindful and respectful of the rules and laws during this time in public.

NO eating, drinking, chewing gum, PDA, makeup, and proper dress and positive manners at all times. AUS_Ramadan

Now in my mind I was picturing life to be complicated and boring during Ramadan. NOT the case. I can still go out and shop. I just have to check the operating hours. I still have to show up at work even though I don’t have any students. My work hours have been reduced from 7-3 to 9-2. It’s against the law to work longer than 6 hours during Ramadan. The malls are open but the restaurants won’t be open. The malls, stores, banks, spas, salons, government offices, etc have reduced hours where there are morning hours and evening hours. I have to remind myself not to chew gum…this is big thing for me because I am always chewing gum. No drinking water in public and it’s hot as an oven so it makes sense to not even be out until the sun goes down. I went out the other day after the sun had set and the fast had broke…..and baby it was crowded. Traffic was worse than usual. People were everywhere. I ordered from Talabat like I usually do from time to time. It took longer than usual. Even the restaurants on Talabat have different hours.

Bottom line Ramadan isn’t a huge change in daily activities in my host country. Behind closed doors most Muslims are okay if you eat or drink in front of them. I choose not to because I find it hard when I’m hungry and see people hungry and I can’t eat. I am able to eat in my classroom. I just shut my lights and I covered the window on my door. I am bored at work with no students. I am watching Netflix catching up on TV shows and movies. My daughter is in the states so I can be an adult and watch adult TV and movies. I do miss her but it’s been nice to be an adult and not just mommy all the time. She’ll experience Ramadan next year. It will move up 15 days and it will be mid May next year.

Be aware of your surroundings. Be respectful. Use common sense. If you are ever unsure ask questions. They are human. They are people.

Jordan 

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I had the pleasure of visiting Jordan specifically the Dead Sea region.

 

It was an amazing experience. It turned out to be quite relaxing. I truly cannot place into words the experience. I will visit again. My daughter says she wants to go. I want to visit Petra and Aqaba next time. I want to see more of the historical sites.

I was able to visit the baptism site where Jesus was baptized.

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Was able to see the Jordan River. I opted not to be baptized in the Jordan river.

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The Jordan River. One side is Palestine and the other side is Jordan. 

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The Palestinians had a more formal type of baptism ceremony in place with a priest and minister present prior to them going into the river to be baptized.

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We stayed in a hotel that was right next to the Dead Sea.

Yes I got into the water. Yes you can float. Yes I placed the mud on. Honestly I didn’t like the feel of the water. It was thick feeling. I could almost feel the salt.

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Little Nuggets

Look when I tell you I am happy for the little nuggets that make living in Kuwait just a little more tolerable I am overjoyed.

The most recent was an African Day Celebration….

I was able to purchase some fabric and have an African skirt made. When I tell you it was an amazing experience that night.

 

There was a Mother’s Day Celebration brunch

 

 

 

In April I went to a Cuban Jazz Concert

 
 

 

I was able to see The Chelesa Green Project live in concert

 

 
 

I’ve attended a South African concert

 

 
 

Best part it was all free. I just had to pay a taxi to get there. I’ve been able to dress up and go out.

I’ve attended game night with other African Americans located here in Kuwait.

Elise is a girl scout. She’s in drama. She’s been to the park located beach side. She’s gone to a farm and picked eggs and fed a goat. She’s got friends her age and slightly older. We are in process of creating a brand for her to explain this expat life from a child’s point of view. Too often we forget they have feelings about this expat life as well.

I am excited for next school year. She will continue to home school. I am ready to be more involved and to experience Kuwait for all it has to offer. I want to find more little nuggets.

The Dark Side

lonely

Let’s take a moment to talk about being lonely.

You decide to pack your life up and move. You have talked to others who have done the same thing. You are excited. You get settled into your new life. You begin to travel. You like your job once again. Life is starting to make sense. But there’s a dark side no one talks about…LONELINESS

You sit at home or in a room of people who have become your family away from home and you feel so alone. You drop tears. You blog. You Facebook. You pray. You travel. You talk to friends and family back home. Bottom-line no one truly understands unless they have been an expat. Don’t get me wrong it’s wonderful life but you have to trade your familiarity of your regular life for this new life. You have to navigate a new country. You have to learn new people and open up to them. You miss birthday celebrations. You miss holiday celebrations. You miss funerals of loved ones.

depression

In my case I have to make sure my child is okay as well as myself.

I remember falling completely apart in front of her. I was so frustrated. I just sat on the floor and I cried. I dropped tears of fear, loneliness, frustration….in front of my 8 year old daughter. We had a heart to heart that night. I told her how I felt. She ended up comforting me. I picked myself up and put her to bed.

I still have my moments of loneliness but I have learned and quickly I have to let others in and create my village. I have to trust my village to be there for me and my daughter.

I am an introvert and I use to staying to myself for extended periods of time but being away from family and friends in a different country being an introvert is suffocating and exhausting.

I have friends. I have my village. I am learning to lean on them.

When you see us posting on social the happy side, the travel, the glitz and glam, and all the other positive things please remember there is a negative side to all this. We smile in public because we know you worry about us and we don’t to over worry loved ones.

Spring Break 

I made it. This means the school year is almost over. When I return to school in a week there will be 36 days left with students.

Insert Praise Dance. 

We left Friday morning for Dubai to finally see Legoland. 

We arrived to our wonderful hotel. We were greeted with bright smiles and “Aloha” the hotel has a Polynesian theme. It is a nice family resort. I suggest anyone to stay at Lapita Hotel at Dubai parks and resorts. It was well worth the money. Everything you need is located right there. You don’t have to leave unless you want to explore Dubai. 

Legoland…what can I say. It’s geared for children 6 and under. It wasn’t one of those parks that made you go oooohhhhh and aaaaahhhhh. I was more impressed with mini land and how the built landmarks from Legos.