Experiences from alumni in the diaspora
Living in a foreign country excites the imagination, ignites the adventurous spirit, and inspires you to explore. On Thursday July 30th2020, the Alumni team at Strathmore University organized a webinar dubbed “Experiences from alumni in the Diaspora”. Telling their tales were Evans Kipchumba (Bachelor of Business Information Technology – Class of 2010), Harriet Njeri (Bachelor of Commerce – Class of 2019) and Christine Kahura (Bachelor of Business Science in Financial Economics – Class of 2019.) Both Harriet and Christine reside in Mumbai- India, while Evans is in Melbourne – Australia. The moderator was Eric Saulo (Director of Partnerships).
You must accept your new home on its terms — not yours
Learning to live in another country is more than simply learning to get to the office, making yourself understood in a local language, and eating different food. You have to learn how to do many new things while unlearning the old that have become second nature. Living abroad successfully also involves a subtle but important change in your expectations of yourself and others. More importantly, you have to cope with the loss of identity and familiarity and get along without some of the personal perks
Experiencing Covid-19 in a foreign land
According to Evans, the lockdown began in April. However, it has been reset due to the spike of cases in July. For Harriet and Christine the lockdown began on March 24th 2020. Though their experiences are personal and different they all agree that it is important to…
- Keep in touch with others for it gives you a sense of belonging. It is a good feeling to know someone is watching out for you and vice versa, said Christine.
- You need to have a fallback plan. Nothing is certain. Have a Plan B and Plan C. For example, Evans continues to pursue his side hustle as he waits for things to return to normal at work.
- Believe in yourself. Your ability and what you know can sustain you through the difficult times. The opportunities are endless, says Harriet, so “ upscale yourself”
- Keep learning. Stretch yourself to learn new skills. For example, Evans, who is a software developer, has been learning about e-commerce and that has allowed him to have a side hustle.
- Stay positive- It is easy to feel hopeless. You have to refocus and reach out to what you can do. As long as you are able.
- Embrace technology for work. Build up a profile and update the works you continue to do. It does not always pay immediately but it does pay later.
While it is important to make the most of all the opportunities that come your way while abroad, it is also crucial to behave responsibly. Try not to get into any situations that might get you in trouble or in harm’s way. After weeks, months, even years of dedication, hard work, and patience, you have been offered an opportunity to live abroad and experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Do not blow it!
This article was written by Annete Karanja.
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