The hardest thing about living abroad in general for me is being away from my family, my mother and sister specifically. If I came from one of those globetrotting families who travel all over the planet and meet up in exotic locations, it would be much easier. If I had my way, we’d meet in London during fall break, South Africa during Christmas and some sexy beach locale during the summer. But whether or not I see my family and friends back home depends a lot on me. Folks simply don’t visit. I’m sure they’ll say money is an issue, but hell, even when I’m home I don’t see them unless I go to them and sometimes that requires me traveling an additional two to three hours even though I’ve traveled thousands of miles and most of the times, more than 16 hours.
However, the upside is, being far away from genetic family motivates you to create a spiritual family and support system in your new location. And while it’s not always easy to do that here in Abuja, it’s not impossible. Luckily for me, I have my fiancé and daughter here. My fiancé was a complete and total Godsend. I met him two weeks after moving here and we’ve been stuck at the hips ever since. I’ve been able to see a lot of Nigeria through his eyes and he has undoubtedly made adjusting here much easier. And then there’s my kiddo. Through her amazing network of friends, we have met interesting people, been to recommended places and enjoyed experiences we might not otherwise have even known about. She is completely happy here and that enthusiasm has been a relief for me since for most of her time in China she was utterly miserable.
In addition to my fiancé and daughter, I’m lucky to have several co-workers who have become close, personal friends as well. With these amazing women, we’ve explored, eaten, and shopped our way through Abuja while making connections and brainstorming future endeavors. Because of them, I can vent about challenges at the workplace, challenges with being an expat and challenges with…well…life.
I haven’t been fortunate enough to become close to any locals really. I’m still hoping that I meet some folks who become my people. You know the ones that invite you and your family over for dinner with palm wine and not just on special occasions. I’m not sure that’s the culture here though, but one can hope. In the meantime, I’m extraordinarily grateful for the family that I already have and look forward to the adventures we will have together.