Monday, September 28, 2009

Living abroad: When in Rome...?

Having lived in London for 10 or so years, I have seen wazalendo get ripped off here and in the motherland. And I think this mainly happens because of the society we come from. And secondly and more importantly, because we forget the cardinal lesson that those conquered by the Romans learned in third century.
The first one affects us in that, we are used to living in a society/country where most systems (especially government-related) don't function as they should. Because these institutions don't work well, we are used to shortcuts to get things done. We are used to services that are not delivered professionally. So for example, most land offices won't ask you for any id to see documents or you say you will bring the id tomorrow. Thus when we encounter systems that work, we surely find dificult to process whatever it is we need to get processed. Just look at these tragic examples of Kenyans trying for US papers. If its possible, its wise to engage the advice of peeps who've gone thru the same process successfully.
For those of us who God has given opporunity to land abroad, our problems seem to be varied though not insurmountable. A few examples:
  • we like our drink and driving. In most of the western countries, this is a huge no no and is a deportable offence. I've lost count
  • The law is the law. Lots of black and white situations (i.e. no room for your interpretation) across the bureaucracy.
  • Lack of papers means many of us do a lot of underground/menial jobs with no bank accounts and the like.
  • Strong motherland bias in investing.
  • Loneliness- no weekend relas or easygoing friends...Race is an issue
  • Living costs are 4 times higher than Nai in some cities abroad
  • Family life is not easy. No mboch or you get expensive childcare. Discipline your kids at your own risk.
  • Relas in the motherland expect instant returns adding to the stress.
  • Failure to appreciate social situations especially awkward pc ones.
  • A significant proportion of our students never complete because of economic situations-note that in some countries students are only allowed to work for given number of hours e.g. 16 per week in the UK.
  • Cramped or unhealthy accommodation.
  • and the worst, getting ripped off by relas when you entrust them to look after your ventures in the motherland.
  • And expecting the law to be on your side in the motherland...
But, its possible to successfully conclude your education and even get jobs provided, one makes it there first call to know the dos and don'ts legally and system-wise.
  1. If you are a prospective student, think not about what your mate is doing but what is your calling. That way, you will be able to endure.
  2. If you are a student, aim high because lecturers and tutors can be your best reference for jobs in your study nation. Some countries are now giving students 1 yr job visas. Its an awesome situation to make yourself indispensable to your employer.
  3. If there is a job opening, stay out of office politics, pray your boss gives you the portfolio your qualification deserves and work hard like a Kenyan. You'll shine.
  4. If you are here for a visit/a few £s, learn what can jobs pay with minimum farce and supervision.
  5. The west is an individualistic society. Take the opportunity to build and discover you.
  6. If you can get married and appreciate the cost and difficulties of bringing up your kids here, do so especially if you are a guy. Otherwise, the pubs are waiting to drink your sweat.
Finally, this is one of most inspirational songs for nrks. Loosely translated, you are wherever you are for a reason. And whatever hardship you endured getting there, you'll go back fruitful.


kenyanreality said...

UK has introduced points based system and a lot of other new regulations this year. While the Points Based System is great in that it eliminates bias by processing officials it is quite a tedious process.

And when getting information, no one seems to know everything and yet if you filled your form wrongly or withheld information you can be banned from travel to UK for 10 years. I think this is rather harsh. But as you said "When in Rome..."

Maishinski said...

Image pressure:

I once got a visitor to my tiny $500 crib in "ulaya" that at home would have been like a tiny flat somewhere in eastlands.

The visitor could not perceive that my crib could be so small & "local-like". why not spend more (like $1,000)have a bigger apartment?

Unverbalized Rant: You ignorant fool - do you even care whether my salo can cover it?

Hmm... $500 extra per month gets me some good image. Which gets me materialistic friends & relaz.

Image has to be backed up so everything else has to be blinged... Crib furnishings.. Ride (Escalade/GMC/custom H2? etc). Loans ziko... so its prob another $500 deduction (you may need 3 jobs - one to pay for car).

So.. there you are "Mr. Big man" abroad.. zero savings, zero investments, but spending $1000 per month to look like you have arrived = $12,000 per annum... KSH 0.96 MILLION. down the drain (in my view).

Am not saying to live like a miser - but people need to realize tha image is a cost. It keeps you working longer (if not forever).

Image is best for those who have lost hope of ever being financially free.

I dont have citizenship here hence zero loyalty. At the very least, the subtle (but very real) racism keeps me in check by constantly reminding me that i am being undervalued here and i don't really belong.

In fact, come to think of it, an extra $300/mo can buy enuf shares back home am moving to a $200 crib as soon as i find one that can fit a bed.

If that's the ticket to financial freedom at a young age, so be it.

..and when am in nai don't expect to see me at Panari / Intercon / Hilton. 3-star is max. Na mathree nitapanda.

Iko nini?


MainaT said...

Kenyanreality- you've in your 2nd paragraph capture what I was going to say. Getting to Europe/US is now the equivalent of sitting KCSE without the benefit of any revision.

MainaT said...

Maishinski- welcome back. Really missed your commentary. Wacha kujificha.Ama you went home?

Anyway, what you say sounds scarily like what I had to endure for years especially before I got married. Everytime I landed, some guys would be like, why not hire a car to get around instead of the ma3; why not buy a car and leave it here?
Some fall for that bs and the next thing as you say, you are forever wage-ing.

Maishinski said...

@ MainaT

It's good to be back! Actually I should be thanking you. I am always motivated by your and Bankelele's consistency.

Keep up the good work!