Very new to Nairobi and struggling

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Very new to Nairobi and struggling Empty Very new to Nairobi and struggling

Post  TraceyG on Sat Feb 04, 2012 8:52 am

Hi there, I'm glad I came across this forum as it's good to see that I'm not the only one who is struggling. I've read some of the posts on here from ladies who were in a similar situation re settling in but they were from last year - I'm just wondering how things are now for those of you who were looking for hobbies/activities etc? Have you settled in better now and met up with people?

My struggles are more to do with what feels like my 'loss of status'. I'm from the UK; I moved here a few weeks ago to be with my partner who was already working out here. I gave up everything to be here (job, lovely house - although it was only rented - car, proximity to friends etc) and was/am fine with that decision and gave it a lot of thought before deciding to do it, however, now that I'm here I guess I'm feeling like a bit of a nobody in my own right and feel like I've lost my 'status' (I'm not keen on that word but can't think of a better word). I don't have children and obviously don't have a paid job here.

Whenever I go to work events with my partner or just meet anyone really, I feel like I'm only here because of him - it's him they talk to - I don't feel like I'm here in my own right or even a person in my own right. I hope this makes sense and I apologise if it sounds a bit sappy and negative. I realise it's early days and there's always a period of adjustment but I can't get my head round the fact that I feel like a nobody. I think it's to do with the fact that I've always worked and worked hard in my career and now it's all gone.

There are lots of positives in that I've done quite long stints of volunteering in Africa before so there's no culture shock element and I'm fine with being here. I'm doing a bit of voluntary work here with a charity so that's a good thing and it gets me out of the house and mixing with locals as well as other volunteers. I have my own transport and seem to have mastered the horrendous driving here. My partner has been here for 18 months already so knows stuff which is helpful.

I guess I'm missing friends and missing having women to talk to who understand how you feel!! I'd really like to meet up with some females so if any of you also would like to meet up or know of anything that's taking place, please let me know.

Thanks for listening and sorry for the whinge! T


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Very new to Nairobi and struggling Empty New and Struggling

Post  Admin on Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:37 am

Hi Tracy,

I really feel for you. I had a horrendous introduction to life in Africa arriving 2 days after our wedding to no job, no car, no friends, no family, no children (so no access to this network) - stinking hot in Dar es Salaam. It was horribly lonely. I felt exactly the same as you - I was a 'plus one' and didn't have much to say for myself. Somehow I stuck to it and it has all become worthwhile in the end - I'll never regret the move. The first thing I did was learn Swahili then got myself a local hire job at the embassy. Joined the Hash House Harriers running group. Slowly things improved.

Nairobi is more difficult because on one hand you have shopping centres, gyms and coffee shops and you can buy most things so it feels like home - but you can still feel isolated without the support network you once had. I understand how you feel about losing status. It's all about carving a niche for yourself and that's not easy. On the upside, you are free to try your hand at almost anything here. A skilled person is fiercely appreciated by prospective employers and you don't face the stiff competition for jobs that you had in the West.

It's great that you've already got yourself hooked up with some voluntary work (voluntary work has its own drawbacks and issues) but my advice would be to get yourself a paid job for a year, even part time. It would do your self esteem the power of good. Even if it's a relatively low paid 'local hire' position in your embassy (you don't need a work permit to work in an embassy as you are perceived to be on 'foreign soil'). Fortunately you have Africa experience and you don't have the tie of children (yet). Once you find an employer, they may be happy to arrange a work permit for you - it's a complicated process but perfectly do-able if you have the right middleman/accountant helping you. (your husband's office might have some leads for this). Google then contact any Nairobi based companies that may have businesses related to your experience - you'll be surprised how open they'll be about an unsolicited approach by someone with your experience. A job will give you back the status you miss, the independence and hopefully some social links.

Alternatively you could try your hand at something you have always wanted to do - freelance journalism - art (The Nairobi Art Centre in Lavington run great courses), setting up your own business - PR, marketing, business advice, something crafty - a women's co-operative group creating things for one of the numerous art fairs. (local writer's group is called; Kwani?). Try contacting your embassy to see if there are any spouses' groups you can join.

This might not be a huge help and I really hope that others might chip in with their suggestions in the meantime. One thing is certain - it will get definitely better.... Smile


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Very new to Nairobi and struggling Empty Nairobi Expat Social (NES)

Post  Admin on Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:42 am

I'm not on Facebook, but I found this for you...

GuestFacebook Group - Nairobi Expat Social (NES)Hi guys

Thankyou to all those who turned out on Saturday afternoon to enjoy a few glasses of wine in the sunshine - it was AWESOME to meet you!

I have set up a facebook group - Nairobi Expat Social (NES)- where I will post details of upcoming coffees, suppers, hikes, safaris, horse-riding and anything else that you tell me you'd like to do. Please sign up for the site, and invite other expat friends to join too.

I promise not to bombard you with personal messages - I'll post details on the group events page of what's happening, and keep fingers crossed that you dont all leave me to drink alone!

email me at



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Very new to Nairobi and struggling Empty Sending Hugs :)

Post  Angelfyre444 on Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:04 pm


Just read your post and wanted to check in and see how things are going two months down the line.
Hope you have found a group of ladies to do things with and that you're finding your stride.

I thought it was very brave of you to take this huge step & that you must love your partner very much to be willing to make so many personal sacrifices and changes. That kind of love and commitment is awesome ~ Kudos sunny

Sending Hugs,


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