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Interactive mobile app for relocation services in Africa

Relocation Africa is excited to announce the launch of their new Interactive Mobile App! The App will become an integral part of our service delivery going forward. Starting with Johannesburg and Cape Town, we plan to roll out the use of the App across all of our African Destinations within the next 6 months. Each assignee will be given access to the platform that will provide them with a wealth of information and knowledge about their new destination. We will include information on the location as well as information unique or specific to their relocation to the new destination. We hope this will make their transition simpler, more efficient, and allow them to settle into their daily life with ease.

What is the App?

The App, at its core allows for the secure sharing of information pertinent to the services that we are delivering to your assignees, and the city / country that they are relocating to, as well as company policy or other information that the assignee may need during their transition.
Its core functions include:
Information Sharing Using the App your assignee will have access to the following via their cell phone/tablet:
• The Relocation Africa Country Fact Sheet.
• The Relocation Africa City Guide which is a comprehensive document, split down into various areas of interest including History, Schooling, Housing, Healthcare, Culture and Entertainment to name but a few.
• Information related to the setting up of utilities.
• A comprehensive checklist relating to the packing up of their home.
• Some Support tools such as dealing with change.
• Emergency numbers.

We will also be able to upload Lease Agreements and Check-in Inspections to the App as they become available, allowing the assignee to have all of the information related to their relocation in one place.
In addition, if required by the Client, we can tailor the App even more and upload policy documentation, employment contracts, medical insurance policies, etc. There will however be a small fee for this additional support.

 

Interactive Service Delivery Via the App the assignee will be able to:
• View their itinerary. This can be uploaded prior to their meeting with our Ground Consultant.
• Familiarize themselves with the location of the items on their itinerary through the interactive map function. This allows for property addresses to be entered and

highlighted on the map, and for links to the related properties to be viewed.
In addition, the interactive map will also contain local ‘points of interest’ – hospitals, shopping malls, police stations, etc.

Communication
The App can be used as a communication tool between the assignee and ourselves – we can send them short messages / reminders which will flash up on the screen of their phone.
Family members can also be added to the App, and photos and messages can be shared between them – ideal when the partner has not been able to participate in the home search or orientation trip.
We believe that the use of the App will greatly enhance the assignee experience, allowing them and their family members to access more of what they need before they travel, as well as enjoy an array of useful information about their destinations once they have arrived, all from one secure source.
This is just another way that Relocation Africa is constantly improving our services by embracing the unknown.

This product can be used in conjunction with our other services or a cost-efficient stand-alone product.

Please contact us on info@relocationafrica.com.

Becoming Madame: Realities of an expat life

What’s expat life really like after the initial sparkle fades away? An american expat provides 10 truths to the most frequently-thought myths about living abroad as an expat.

Over the past two weeks, three different readers (a gentleman and two ladies) from three different countries on two different continents have written to me asking about the realities of living in a new country. They asked: How did I make a life for myself in France? How did I find a job? Was I scared to give up my career and my entire life? How did I make the final decision to embark on the big move? And how in the world did I learn French well enough to live in a French society?

I see the timing and similarity of these correspondences, from authors literally thousands of kilometres apart, as a nudge from Mother Serendipity that perhaps it is time for me to write a little more seriously about life as an expat.

I try to be as honest as possible in my posts about living abroad. But you, dear reader, must remember that I have been here for nearly six years now, so naturally all the trepidation, the worry, most of the confusion and the anxiety of the first few months and years have dissipated. My ‘Big Move’ was in large part a personal adventure at a time in my life when I needed to make a decision as to whether I was going to dedicate my life entirely to one path or to make a change in search of something new.

Like my new correspondents, and perhaps like many of you, I wanted more out of life than what I had created for myself thus far. I felt an unexplainable void and an indescribable need for new air, new scenery, new people, new everything. And to be quite honest I didn’t want any part of the life that I had – even if it meant giving up a lucrative career, a fiancé, a long-lost love, and my family. I was prepared to start all over again, which is the single most important part of an adventure like the one I’m on. You have to be willing to start again from the beginning.

Some of you might say, “Yeah, well, all that’s okay with me. I just want something different.”

Fair enough. I understand and commend you on your desire for adventure and change, and your yearning to undertake a challenge and to widen your comfort zone. I applaud taking life by the reins and making it what you want it to be. Indeed, I did just that.

I distinguish my adventure from the countless number of temporary expats I meet here in Europe, those who have rented their house out back home and who have taken a position in the European division of their company. Theirs is an excellent way to experience life through a different cultural lens, especially for children, but it is not the same as stepping off a plane in some new place with a completely blank slate before you. This latter experience is what I’m writing about to you now.

(1)If you move to a new country, particularly one where you don’t know the language, you will feel as if you’re starting life over from the beginning of adulthood. You’ll likely have to go back to school to earn credentials to open up the work possibilities of your adopted homeland. You will, at the very least, need to take language classes. So returning to a student life is an essential ingredient.

(2) Since you quit your job back home and you don’t know the language of your new home country, if you aren’t enrolled as a student when you arrive, you will not be able to obtain a working visa – unless, of course, you come over with a company and then your experience is more akin to the temporary expats I mentioned above. As a student you can generally only work limited hours – in France for instance, it’s 19 hours a week, or in the Netherlands, 10 hours per week. The most common part-time jobs available for non-French speakers are serving in one of the American or Anglo restaurants/pubs (again back to the beginning when you worked your way through college), teaching English at Telelangue or Wall Street English or babysitting. Even these jobs require a visa if you want to them legally.

(3) A visitor’s visa generally lasts only about three months (in most European countries), so you will need to come prepared:

  • Have a job lined up (or at least interviews set up) or acceptance to a study program. Know the visa requirements. In France, if you come as a visitor and then enrol in a study program, in most cases you will have to return home to apply for your visa through the proper channels.
  • Have a place to stay arranged before you jump on the plane.
  • Come over with about five month’s worth of savings just in case. When you don’t know anyone in a new place, you are forced to go out all time to meet people – this is not an inexpensive endeavour.

(4) If all this going back to school business seems a little daunting, which I can understand as someone who has spent a great deal of her adult life in post-graduate study, you may want to think about trying this experience in an English-speaking country. If you’re Canadian, try England, Scotland, Ireland or Australia. If you’re American, why not Toronto or Montreal? Finding a job in your field will be infinitely easier in such cases.

(5) Your new job prospects might not be ideal in the new country, especially following the global financial crisis. Try not to trick yourself into thinking, “I hate my desk job so I’ll move abroad and never enter an office again.” Or the other great misconception: you’ll walk right into the same standard of living that you enjoyed back home. In reality, you will probably revert to 10 years earlier and plant your roots in the soil of a younger you. You will most probably regain your standard of living but it takes time and patience.

(6) If you come to a country where you don’t speak the language, prepare yourself that you will not only be going back to the beginning in your work life, as mentioned above, but you’ll also have no friends or family. If you’re like me, you’ll know no one, not a single soul, when you walk off the plane. Periods of extreme loneliness are inevitable. The key is to get yourself out of your apartment and just keep going: get up each day, and get outside no matter how intimidating it is to walk into a world of confusing mumble-jumble all around you. Take baby steps, but just keep taking them.

(7) As I recently confided in one of my correspondents, know why you’re making this move. Because at the end, once the excitement and fear and glee of starting a new life and being free from your old one have worn off, you will still wake up with yourself every single day. Whatever you might have been running from or trying to escape – a broken relationship, a tedious job, a dead-end career, your family – these things don’t magically disappear. Your job will be replaced by another; you’ll still have to pay the bills each month; you’ll find another relationship that will at times break your heart; and your family will eventually track you down. This is important: No matter where you call home, you still have to wake up with yourself and life’s problems. Keep that in mind.

(8) You’ll need humility. Becoming part of another culture is quite an unique experience. You redefine your preconceived notions of people, culture, how life should be lived, and your perceptions of yourself. Take my situation as an example: A Big City attorney, ambitious and successful one day, and then just like that, woke up another day in a tiny 18sqm apartment, in a strange place where I couldn’t communicate with anyone. For an A-type personality used to using her words as her first line of defence, you can imagine the shift in my self-definition.

(9) Be cautious of following a lover half way around the world. I was recently involved in trying to help a woman who moved over to France at the request of her French boyfriend. They had met on a few business conferences in the States and one thing led to another. After a year-long, long-distance relationship, the charm of living in Paris won over this woman and she accepted her boyfriend’s invitation to live with him until she got on her feet. In her mind, she was starting a life with him. That was until his wife showed up and threw a fit. Oops, boyfriend forgot to mention he was still technically married. It sounds like a novel, but very unfortunately for this woman it was not fiction – it was a terribly heartbreaking, disappointing and humiliating real-life experience. This woman is a successful, intelligent lady who simply got caught up in a dream, divorced herself from reality and refused to face it until forced to do so. (As a caveat, I met my husband in France and when I moved here love was the farthest thing from my mind.)

(10) Even though European countries seem to be very Western (and they are Occidental countries), their cultures are quite different from North American culture, and from one another for that matter. French people have their own ways of doing almost everything and sometimes they are amused to see how we foreigners undertake a particular action, but most of the time they are not in the mood. You have to remember that we’re the ones in their country. It’s us who need to assimilate, not the other way around.

Starting over at 30 or 40 or 70 years-young is as much about discovering more of yourself than it is about seeking new adventures in a new, far off destination. You have to let go of your former self to an extent and allow change to happen, all the while holding on to what is essentially you. It’s easy to get lost 4000km from everyone you’ve ever known. And you will get homesick, even if it’s your family from whom you’ve run away.

With time you’ll build a new family, meet new friends, find a job, and live a life. But you still have to clean the bathroom every once in a while, take out the garbage in the morning and pay the bills no matter where you live. Life, at some basic level, is the same everywhere.

What you are giving up in progression and stability, you are gaining in life experience and adventure. That’s the reality of it. And time heals all wounds.
A little food for thought dedicated to those of you who might be contemplating that old adage ‘The grass is always greener…’

The original article can be viewed here on the website becomingmadame.wordpress.com

Immigration changes in Nigeria and Egypt

NIGERIA road sign

Africa’s largest economy is slowly coming out of its worst recession in 30 years, and the Nigerian government continues to modernize its employment-based immigration system in an effort to attract international business. Earlier this year, Nigeria finally adopted the administrative regulations to implement its Immigration Act of 2015, which was the country’s first significant amendment of their immigration law in over 50 years. This year, the Immigration Regulations 2017 made broad changes to the full spectrum of business visas, visas-on-arrival, work and residence permits, entry procedures, identification and registration rules, and administrative processes.


egypt

EGYPT | Visa-Free Privileges Suspended for Qatari Citizens, and Updated List of Foreign Nationals Required to Register In-Country Within Seven-Days of Entry
Effective July 20, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs began denying visa-free entry to Qatari citizens. This is the latest salvo in the ongoing diplomatic and trade war by 16 Middle Eastern countries against the nation of Qatar. Egyptian officials have publicly indicated that exemptions to the visa-free suspension will be considered on a case-by-case basis for Qatari nationals with Egyptian spouses or mothers; however, it is unclear thus far how applicants would exercise that option.

While Qatari nationals are still eligible to apply for visas to enter Egypt, these applications have been subject to heightened scrutiny and high rates of rejection even prior to the current escalated tensions. With the Egyptian diplomatic missions in Qatar having been withdrawn in June, applications will likely need to be lodged at the Egyptian diplomatic posts in Kuwait or Oman, which have thus far elected to remain neutral in the current dispute. Even clearing that hurdle, applications by Qatari citizens will still face greater rejection levels absent close connections to individuals or companies in Egypt.

Source

Relocation Basics: 8 Cultural Orientation Rules You Really Need to Know

You’ve spent the first half of your life learning acceptable social behaviour, the last ten years telling your kids not to care what people think, and then it happens…

Relocation.
Suddenly you’re stuck right back where you were on the first day of high school, having to walk into places you really would rather run screaming from, and make nice with a sea of people who have no idea who you are. Welcome to the reality of expat life.
If your cultural orientation training was anything like mine, it revolves around the country currency, demographics and religious practices. What it might not tell you is how to find the people with whom you can laugh, cry, and everything in between with.

So here’s my best advice for potential expats, based on fifteen years of relocation, social gaffes, awkward situations and offending people.

It gets easier.
Just as the first day of school was the worst for most of us (apart from the boy who had diarrhea in assembly in 9th grade – that’s a tricky one to beat), the first few weeks of any relocation are the hardest. The quicker you get out there and start circulating, the quicker you will find your first friend.

It’s a numbers game.
You didn’t expect to like everyone in high school, and nor will you like everyone you meet, but you have to go through the numbers to get to one who will become lifelong friends. Go to as many gatherings as possible, safe in the knowledge that somewhere out there is someone who is doing the same thing and hating it every bit as much as you do…

Talk to a cherished friend beforehand,
so that you are:
more confident about yourself and will present yourself in a more relaxed way
have vented all your relocation angst so that your new acquaintances don’t think you are a moany old whingebag and hereafter avoid you and,
so you have someone impartial waiting to hear all the gory details. Knowing that you have someone far, far away who relish all the post party gossip and can never tell makes putting up with the fifteenth “what does your husband do?” far more palatable.

Go to where people gather to be social.
This issue cropped up the other day – in Europe there are higher numbers of dual income families, so there are fewer opportunities for people to meet socially through school, and so a friend with school age children is struggling to meet new people. Instead, find local events by searching social media, (check out the Families in Global Transition or I am Triangle Facebook Groups for the most awesome community of people who not only get what you are going through, but take a fiendish delight in connecting you with global locals) take a class, or do something that people go to alone. And no, I don’t mean bars.

Be prepared to watch, learn, smile – and bite your lip. Often.
There will be new social rules (cute does not have the same implicit meaning in the UK and the US), a new dress codes, language differences. You may be an avid taxidermist, but that’s probably not going to be your best icebreaker at the school social. And if you are anything like me, try to avoid sarcastic, flippant or hilarious remarks, such as “Will there be alcohol served?” at the new parent breakfast. My strategy is to seek out the person that sparks the most antipathy, and watch for who else in the crowd is wincing. Instant friend, right there.

Learn to say ‘Sorry’ in every language
– but never be ashamed of trying. This has been a hard-won piece of self-knowledge, based on years of feeling ‘less than’ when I got things wrong. I hereby give you permission to apologise freely for giving offense, but never ever give up your right to get things wrong. Because here’s the thing – if you are out there making mistakes, it means that you care enough about the people, places and culture around you to want to be part of it, and no-one ever got anything right first time.

Don’t undervalue yourself.
Most relocation advice suggests voluntary work as a great way to develop a social network, and while this may be true, I have seen more people than I care to count take on the first volunteer opportunity that comes their way, only to end up in glorious isolation doing the photocopying for the PTA. (Actually, I met one of my favorite people doing exactly that, but I just got very lucky..). Find something that both gives you a sense of fulfillment and attracts like-minded people, and feel free to test drive opportunities before you commit. Tell them I said so.

Talk to anyone.
My mother does this, and it drives me nuts, but she can find a friend faster than anyone I know. Her favorite targets are anyone with a British accent, anyone in a book store, anyone wearing Marks and Spencer clothing, and anyone with grey hair. And if you happen to have a baby, your chances of escaping uninterrupted are nil. Feel free to choose your own victims target audience, but pursue it with the same singleminded passion.

At all costs, avoid asking “What does your husband do?”.
A little piece of my soul dies every time that question is asked in social circles, as if the person being spoken to is unworthy of interest. Add in the fact that you are assuming that they are a) married, and b) they don’t instead have a wife. My personal answer when asked is “Put a gun to my head and I still couldn’t tell you”; it conveys accurately both my knowledge of what he does, and my interest in finding out. As yet, no-one has taken me up on it, but feel free to find your own, less dramatic response.

Journal.
Yes, I know I am biased here, because I literally co-wrote the book on this one, but seriously, start writing it all down. Journaling has been empirically proven time and time again to support cross-cultural growth and adaptation, help you manage challenges and maintain a positive mindset. So grab a pad and a pen, and start writing. If you need a little more help, the fabulous (yes, she really is) Trisha Carter and I wrote The Guided Journal for Adapting to Life Overseas, complete with a member website jam packed with relocation friendly resources. To find out more, click here, or if you just want to buy the book, you can get it here (US), or here (UK).

Remember, it’s not right or wrong, it’s just different.
It’s one of Trisha Carter’s favourite sayings, and is incredibly helpful in those moments when you are ready to scream, cry or start booking plane tickets home. You’ll see things that will enrage, infuriate or bewilder you, but you don’t have to agree, or even engage if you don’t want to. Try to suspend judgement, at least until you can dump it all on to paper or a trusted ear. And yes, I know it’s tough.

The original article was posted on the Expat Lifeline website www.theexpatlifeline.com and can be viewed here.

Healthy Goodbyes for Healthy Starts – Expat Nest Article

“Goodbye…” It’s such a powerful and emotive word, isn’t it? And, as we will see, it’s more than just a word to signify a parting; it’s a way to complete a cycle. By saying healthy goodbyes we bring a sense of closure and ready ourselves for the new chapter in our lives. Here’s how we can do this, and why we should…

We are all familiar with farewells – expats especially so. Whether we’re the one leaving or the one who stays behind, we will always feel the sadness of a parting. Change, however, is the only constant. We will have many opportunities to say goodbye in our lives, and not just because we are expats. Saying goodbye is therefore a skill to practise and an emotional process to go through<

Saying goodbye sucks
This is especially true for expats, who have to say goodbye more than most! A common reaction to an upcoming goodbye is to become detached. Many expats will keep their distance from loved ones, whether friends, colleagues or family, before a relocation. We may shut off and try to avoid the goodbyes entirely.

A very good friend of mine, who I’d spent time with almost daily, did this as he was due to leave the Netherlands. He gave me a quick hug, and left. This wasn’t the goodbye I wanted and it left an uneasy sadness (perhaps for him too).

Why is goodbye so important?
Though we may avoid proper closure or not know how to handle it,going through the sadness of an ending is normal and healthy. “Goodbye” represents that closure and helps with a smoother transition.Closing the cycle gives you a strong foundation as you begin again.

A healthy goodbye also helps you to savour the good parts of your experience; it holds these as treasures from your previous chapter and into your new one. (These treasures can never be taken away from you.) This can give you strength; it can give you love. It can give you the power to continue when the transition is difficult.

Healthy goodbyes beyond the expat experience
They’re valuable in every meaningful relationship we have. For example, you may know your relationship is ending, but find yourself struggling to let go. This is tough, we know, but it’s better to find the strength to say goodbye, sooner rather than later, and to bring in that end. Why? Because your time is precious; it is a non-renewable resource. And you can only start over when it’s over.

If this sounds too painful, it can help to think of your emotions as the seasons: after winter, comes spring, comes summer, comes autumn…. How long you want to remain in winter is up to you to a great extent. What can you do to bring spring, without forcing it? You can take your time in the “winter” months – to reflect, to learn – and then you can say goodbye to winter and begin to lean into spring.

What else do we need for a healthy start?
We’ve discussed the pain – and importance – of goodbyes, but it also helps to look forward. Ask yourself:

  • “What else do I need for a healthy start?”
  • “What is important to me?”
  • “What matters the most to enable as peaceful a transition as possible?”

These transitional phases are difficult sometimes, but they can also be very exciting! There is the pain, yes, for something precious that is gone; there also is the beauty. But isn’t life a little bitter-sweet?

The original article can be read here – www.expatnest.com