Do you feel “stuck”in your International Community?

 

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Like most international communities, people are very transient. One day you see them and the next  their gone. No, not dead necessarily but perhaps off to the next international destination or maybe back home.  Well, with the transient mood in most places comes complacency and the blindness of the reality of the community around them. I see it all the time, especially with Caucasian population here in Uganda. They find comfort in their homes, international school communities, expat frequented pubs, markets and restaurants. I know this for a fact and I ask myself, “Why the hell did you come to another place if you want to stay around people who only look like you?” You are in Africa for God sakes!

Of course, no one will be completely frank about this decision to stay around their “own” in an international community but in my honest opinion, it is a comfort of a familiar face or an environment that best represents where they feel like they belong. When I lived in the UAE, this happened to me. I found myself primary hanging with other single, African American moms whose kids had the same interests as my own. If it wasn’t for a dear friend of mine last year here in Uganda, I would of ended up in that same trap of mundane comfort, whether it was surrounded by other foreigners or the four corners of my school provided apartment.

I’m a Cancer and if you follow the zodiac personality traits, you’d know that we resemble that of a crab hidden away most naturally in its shell. So, believe it or not, it takes a lot for me to get out of that zone that’s all too “safe” for me. Isn’t that the point of travel? I mean, aren’t we supposed to go out of our way to discover new places, people and things. Aren’t we supposed to figure out what makes us smile, cringe or fall in love all over again. Not just with a man but with life and the love of travel…or just being free.

Today, I did a little searching online and found out about so many hidden nooks and travel opportunities in Uganda. I’m a nature buff so going to the country side is my muse. It comforts me and brings me some sort of serene peace. I didn’t realize how much I loved nature. Uganda is perfect for that nature scene that you’re probably dying to see as well. It’s like who wouldn’t want to connect with nature, animals and the like. They don’t have a care in the world and for once, it would be nice to have the same sentiments.

So if you’re like me, I leave you with these 3 points that will hopefully propel you and your family to another level of boldness in your international zone. We all need a push and a reminder every now and then about how great we are.

  1. Plan a totally random trip to a place at least 1 hour away from your comfort grounds.
    • This will do wonders for your boldness. You’ll learn that taking this leap will pry your eyes open to the new wonders and hidden gems deeply secured in your international community.
  1. Make an effort to get to know more people in and around your community.
    • Now, I’ve probably spoken about this before at some point on this blog because it’s so easy to become a hermit in your world…hey bed even. Sooo, come on now…do you want to be known for traveling and living in other parts of the world with no real and meaningful contacts to keep in contact with well after your adventure zone is completed?
  2. Figure out where your expertise is needed.
    • Now, don’t be showy about it. Use your talents and gifts to help leverage your awareness and need in the community that you live in. You will be surprised how your writing skills, business acumen and other know-how’s will help you discover a new neighbor, random “in-need” person or another creative network around you because you never know where you’ll be in high demand.  When you feel that you matter, you’ll want to show up and show out! Get it!

If anyone knows about international living, it’s me…and well quite a few other folks as well. What I can tell you is you can’t do this alone, hunny. No, I tell you! Living internationally is a beast in its own. If your life resembles the liking of mine, a single mom, you know that family is everything. Not having my family consistently around me has been one of the biggest sacrifices to date. In the meantime, I had to learn that seclusion can’t become the norm when you’re alone. I don’t care how much you think its okay…its not. You need people for sanity purposes. You need to feel alive, well and accounted for. Without people around you, how can you thrive?  Overall, your time, attention and impact is needed. Don’t be afraid to speak out, try something new, be adventurous and get yourself out there! You are there for a reason, probably very temporarily so make every moment count!

 

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5 thoughts on “Do you feel “stuck”in your International Community?

  1. robert ogage says:

    That was wonderful writtenYou gave more light about u travelled experience It’s great though, I could understand what you saying, feeling touched from the story Interesting write up dear Thanks again Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

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  2. Teri says:

    I love your writing style! I really needed this message, especially in my current situation. I have to admit I can really get into my “comfort” zone sometimes when it comes to interacting with people. I have always been an introvert and it takes time for me to warm up to people. And this is not very productive in an international community.

    When I lived in Africa it was very easy for me to mingle with the local population. Because, well, they looked like me. But living in the UAE is like living in a melting pot. Oddly enough, I haven’t encountered too many African American people in the UAE. I know they are there but I rarely saw any at my job or in the areas that I frequented in the community.

    So I didn’t have much of a choice but to come out my comfort zone. Oddly enough my closest friends in the UAE are locals. I also have good friends from many African and Asian countries that reside in the emirates. At this point, it is hard for me to relate to African American women in the same way. I think a lot of it has to do with how much I have grown culturally due to my interactions with so many people abroad. And living in the Middle East you have to have an international mindset.

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    • Ms. Black Expat says:

      Hey Terri! Great hearing from you. I do apologize for the delay. I’m so glad that you’ve found some familiarity in my message and that you took the time to read it. It really means a lot. See, I wish I’d taken your approach. When I lived in the UAE, I befriended a lot of African American women with children because that was who I could relate with. Incidentally, I didn’t make many Emirate friends outside of my school environment which wasn’t a good thing for me in terms of coming to know more about my community and the culture.

      Now, it’s funny because African Americans are rare here so I am usually the only one in the room. The people I mainly interact with are locals. It becomes extremely helpful, of course, when you want to know more about what’s going on around town, legit prices or just good ol convo!

      Thank you for sharing your story. It was inspiring!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Teri says:

        Now that you mention it, being one of only a few AA’s in Liberia also impacted my desire and need to intermingle with the local community. There wasn’t a large AA community in the country when I was there. I literally met 2 other AA women in the country, one of whom went back to the states about a month after we met. I imagine that it is even less now with the recent Ebola crisis. I wasn’t there when it hit, but I was told by some locals that I still keep in contact with that many expats left during that time.

        I did meet and talk with some white Americans when I was there. Most of them worked with the U.N. or where in some way connected with the international political regime. But there weren’t many of them around me either. The expat community was primarily made of Lebanese, Indian, Chinese, and European people. And they tended to be very cliquish with other people from their nationality. This happens a lot in the UAE too, as you already know.

        Question: How is the overall expat community in Kampala?

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