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From the UK to Cape Town to Nairobi: The Expat Mummy

07 May, 2018 08:45  Erin Erin

Expat Mummy I am Nadine Murphy. I’m a British mum living in Nairobi, Kenya… though I’ve just come from living in Cape Town for 6 years.

1.    Why did you move abroad?
I moved to Cape Town to be with my husband who had a great expatriate job opportunity. My first child was just 3 months old and the assignment was just to be two years.  We thought it a great opportunity to be able to spend time just being a mum. Our twins were born 12 months later and we ended up staying in Cape Town. After 6 years my husband was offered the dream chance to open his own office in Kenya and we jumped at the chance to experience more of Africa.

2.    How do you make a living?
I’m still finding my feet with regards to earning.  I write a blog, which despite being very new is slowly, but surely increasing it’s audience. My challenge is to find a way to monetize the site.  I’ve also been offered writing and marketing work locally. We have been 8 months in Kenya but there are lots of irons in the fire…  the future is both unknown and exciting.

3.    How often do you communicate with home and how?
I’m an email/Facebook kinda girl.  I post a lot to social media as it allows me to share my life with all y family at home.  It also provides a record for me of what I’ve been up to.  Recently my laptop blew up and the only photos I have of my children, as babies are those that I posted on Facebook.  I’m terrible at Skyping, its Christmas and birthdays only although my husband is much better than I am and Skypes his parents every week.

4.    What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Kenya?
Kenya is a bright, bubbly, vibrant place. There is life everyone from the smiles of the colorfully dressed local people, to the wild animals that are now a feature of everyday life.  In Kenya its rare to find an empty place; there will always be lady weaving a basket or a giraffe popping out from behind a tree even in the most rural of areas.
I’ve also found it very easy to make friends; there is a clear expat community.  We all go to the same places to shop and eat and drink.  Most of our kids all go to the same school.  It’s hard not to make friends.

5.    What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Kenya?
I find simple things hard and frustrating. Even just a simple trip to the shops. The drive is a death-defying feat avoiding cows and cars and people who jump out into the middle of the street. Shops don’t stock what you want or need, you have to see what’s available and make your supper choices from that. Queuing at the till can take ages. Someone will be there who has no money and you have to wait for a friend to send it to him, or a till will suddenly decided to close just when you get near it.

Setting up utilities, ordering stuff, getting things repaired… its all hit and miss when and if it will happen at all.  

6.    What do you miss most?
My family. Cold crisp mornings.  The hustle and bustle of London, Accessibility to anything you want whenever you want.

7.    What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?

I met a lot of mums through the school and I was often the first to invite people out. I try to say ‘yes’ to every invitation even if I don’t really feel like it. I try to be a good friend and not lazy and useless as is my nature.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
The flexibility with time is a constant annoyance.  Other than that I find nothing strange, I came to a new country expecting new experiences and I try to embrace it all.   I suppose living in Cape Town has made me more aware of cultural differences and less shocked by them.

9.    What is a myth about your adopted country?
That it’s all crime and robbery.  As with every city there are places that its better to avoid but in general we live a peaceful and hassle free existence.  Our suburb is leafy and green and I happily jog or walk around without feeling any threat of my life.  Africa in general is a lot less scary than people would lead you to believe.

10.    Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It’s much higher than Cape Town. Housing, schooling, food and going out are astronomical compared to South Africa, but it’s on a par with those prices in England.  

11.    What advice would you give other expats?
Take things slowly because everyone else will. Everything happens slowly here. Sometimes things don’t happen at all, you just need to take a deep breath and keep on at it.

Put loads of effort into making friends. People will only extend the hand of friendship for so long. If you don’t grab it when it’s offered you may find yourself 6 months in and lonely.
Get out of Nairobi and see all that Kenya has to offer, this is one of the most spectacular places in the world and everyone that can get away during holidays does.  Nairobi is an empty place during summer and winter breaks.

12.    When and why did you start your blog?
I wanted to chronicle my time in Kenya in a way I never did in Cape Town, keeping a record of where I went and how I felt at the time. I felt I had learned a lot as I moved into my second expat placement and thought that I had things to share that others could benefit from.

Expat Mummy

Blog LinkNadine's Blog, The Expat Mummy

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