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Advice For Fellow Gulf Alumni

My brother coined a term for people like us…Gulf Alumni. We’re the group that grew up in countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen, and found ourselves on a one-way plane to Kenya in the last 5 years. Because I’ve always believed that life is too short to figure out things on your own, I’ve reached out to people who’ve had similar experiences and made similar moves in their lives to ask for advice on what to watch out for. Here’s a list for whoever might find it useful;

—>Social network. This came up over and over and over again. When you leave any place, it’s easy to lose touch with your social network; the people you call during the weekend when you want to go out, the people whose couch you crash on when you’re too tired to drive back home, the people with whom you share bread pudding topped with salted caramel, the people you average your birthdays with so you can have one birthday dinner instead of two.

The great news about this is it’s not 1982; when my parents would wait for someone to travel to Kenya so they would send a letter to their family back home.

It’s also not the 1994, when they would line up outside a call box carrying coins waiting for their turn.

It’s 2017, which means that everyone is only a Skype call or a Whatsapp message way.

—>Find a way to make new friends in the new place. People like myself are introverts, which means I made most of my friends in class or at work. With no more classes and no work at the moment, I know I’m going to have to be a bit creative about finding my tribe; people who share my interests, personal values and operate at the same wavelength. [I’m currently working on an interesting strategy but won’t reveal the details before I test it so continue following this blog].

–>Keep yourself busy. Just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean it’s time to be a loafer. From what I’ve noticed, the official job market seems a bit slow because it’s election year and everyone’s holding their breath and keeping their wallets closed in case a change of leadership has some ripple effect on the economy.
However, at the same time the gig economy and creative scene is really taking off, with millennials getting tired of  waiting for others to give them work to do. What I’m happy about is how this transition phase is awesome for the writer in me…the engineer might suffer a bit…Average time of unemployment (I’ve been told) could be around 9 – 12 months.

–>Don’t convert currencies. As people who used to spend 3 weeks to 2 months in Kenya every year, we have a bad habit of converting every single thing we see in the market to AED. That habit has got to stop or we’ll just drive ourselves crazy. Only comparison should be made against the money in your hand and not how much you could have gotten it back in the UAE.

—>Keep your phone (and Kindle) and power bank charged all the time. You never know when the power will go out. This is just general advice for everyone.

–>Find out what grounds you. As long as you have a place to pray, a roof over your head, food on the table,  supportive people around you, books to read and empty papers to write on,  you should be grateful. The amazing thing about tectonic changes in life is they give you perspective and remind you of what’s really important.
What are your thoughts on the topic? Tweet me @ahechoes to let me know.
I’m currently reading Peak by Chip Conley. Follow my Instagram Stories as well as twitter @ahechoes where I share snippets of wisdom from books I read.
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Published inCareerPersonal Development