more than 3 years and still trying to settle in!!

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more than 3 years and still trying to settle in!!

Post  sur on Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:33 pm

Hello,
I have been staying in Nairobi with my husband for more than 3 years now.. But haven't made a lot of friends yet! Am not working, so am mostly at home. Keep going to the supermarkets, but those arent a great way to entertain myself!

anyone out there like me??!!
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Trouble settling in

Post  Admin on Thu Feb 10, 2011 6:11 pm

Hi there,

I'm afraid I am not in your situation right now - I now have 3 kids and the school network makes creating friendships very easy. However - if it helps, I do have first hand experience of being lonely, no work, no car, no friends or contacts and without kids in Africa when I arrived from England 12 years ago. I know that being married and in a foreign country can really sap your confidence.

Back then I lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It was terrible having my entire identity from England whipped away suddenly to become a trailing spouse with nothing to go. My first step was to sign up for a Kiswahili course. I hoped to meet lots of friends there, but in fact there were only 3 of us. One girl my age (who turned out to only be in Dar for one month) suggested trying The British High Commission/Embassy/Dfid to find local hire work - the pay is terrible but key is that you don't need a work permit to take a local hire position and at least you get to meet some people! I got a job at Dfid and did that for a year. The swahili course was basic, lasted four weeks (an hour a day) but it was a great introduction to the culture and made everything feel a lot less alien. I also went to women's group meetings occasionally - but they all seemed a lot older than me or were people with kids.

The good news is that Nairobi is huge and has a much wider choice of things to do than we had in Dar. Read publications like Kenya Buzz & Xpatlink and keep abreast of courses offered/things to do (hard copies of these mags are available at cinemas and Dormans coffee outlets). Get out there, get in a matatu and explore if you possibly can. There's a v. new website called 'Word of Mouth' for expats in Kenya to chat online etc. But online I guess can only get you so far...

It depends really on what you are interested in. The National Museum runs excellent courses occasionally. Kwani? run writing courses, poetry workshops, cafe meetings if you are into that sort of thing. There's a great art centre in Lavington (opposite Lavington Green shops) but I know art courses can be pricey here. Volunteer for the Red Cross? Get a job doing admin for a local safari company?

Keep looking at notice boards for upcoming events. For instance there's a big charity car boot sale at Hillcrest school, Karen, this weekend/Sunday if you fancy it?

Oh yes, and read my blog - check out the comments and then click on other readers' sites to see what everyone else is up to. The post about Pirate dvds in Kenya has great shopping tips for cut price stuff on River Road.

Good luck, good luck!! Put on a happy face and go for it!!

I hope this has been of some help - I really do understand that it's not easy!!

Africa Expat Wife


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Hello

Post  kimberleyjanefernandes on Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:00 pm

Hello Im Kimberley

I have been in Nairobi 8 months now with my husband and haven't made a lot of friends. I only now my husband friends wife's and not really seen them much, as they've lived here all there life's and have there own friends ect.

Would love to find some new friends I can go shopping with or join an activity.
Im mostly at home and totally bored. Ive done the shopping bit at junction but that's not much fun on your own. I dont work so time stays pretty still each day. Would love to make new friends here, Im sure that would make the world of difference to feeling Isolated and lonely.

A little bit about me and what I do ect, Im a skin and body therapist / Henna artists. But haven't done anything in 8 months here in Nairobi. Im 41, I have two sons aged 22yrs and 18yrs they live in London, Miss them totally Sad I love animals- wildlife so im in the right place. I love to paint but resonantly not had the inspiration to do any thing.

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Bored and Lonely

Post  Admin on Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:50 am

Hi Kimberley,

I really do feel for you. I do know exactly what it's like to be at a total loss vis-a-vis meeting potential friends in a foreign country. I've totally been there myself. It's hard work and never comes quickly (especially when you don't have kids of school age) - however, I really don't want you to give up!!

My first thought was, why not join an art course at the Nairobi Art Centre, it's in a house located opposite the Lavington Green shopping complex (not far from the Junction). You can't miss the red gates with an artist's board painted on the front. The courses can be pricey, and often just once a week (evenings or saturdays?), but it might be really worth joining. They do kids art camps in the school holidays too (coming up now) and I know that they are often looking for inspiration and volunteers to help with these.

I guess that you are not English. Are there any groups or meetings that your embassy could suggest you go along to, to find friends of your own nationality and support?

Being a skin and body specialist is a fantastic skill that I am sure many people in Nairobi would love to tap into. Many people with these skills operate freelance or have their own beauty salon at home, dealing with clients on a one-to-one basis, relying on reputation & good networks. Somebody from overseas with up-to-date skills/new fresh ideas, is always highly sought after here.

If I were you, to start with, I might be tempted to visit 'Cactus' a big beauty salon located near the top of James Gichuru road on the left (turn down a small side road for 100 metres), just before Waiyaki Way. They are quite a big 'beauty' operation and might love to get to know you (they also make their own creams and products). Ask them about other places that offer similar beauty treatments or any relevant contacts they might have. Perhaps they'd like to bring you in to train their staff on a casual basis, or something like this?

A similar beauty salon is 'Bliss' located in Karen (at Marula studios) - they often send beauty staff to up-market safari camps during the busy tourist season - they might love your help. Many good hairdressers offer quite a range of beauty treatments as well incl massage, reflexology. By working part time for them you could tap into their client lists? Most shopping centres have a good salon offering both hair and beauty, ie Village Market - Salon Malibu. Karen shopping centre has a new hair and beauty salon, 'Nothing like it'. There's also an old and well established beauty training school located somewhere at Muthaiga mini market shops - sorry, I dont know their name, but ask anyone around there and they could point you in the right direction.

It's always worth scanning the notice boards at places like the junction for inspiration and ideas. You generally have to be quite brave to push yourself out there, but it so often pays off in the end - and when you are busy - friends come easily.

Good luck!!

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