What you should know as a trailing spouse in Africa
In Africa, a trailing spouse is the partner (husband or wife) of an employee sent to work in a foreign country. Nowadays, more individuals want to advance in their jobs and broaden their perspectives by traveling abroad. For example, the Migration Statistics Quarterly Report for August 2020 shows that 403,000 people relocated from the UK for the year ending March 2020.
It takes a lot of planning and hard work to uproot a family and relocate them to another country. Especially when it is to further a spouse’s job. It typically entails leaving behind your job, family, friends, and way of life. You end up in a nation you don’t know. You have a small support network, a house to create a home, and children settling into a new school. All this without really understanding what hit you.
The move to Africa is a big change, and this article should help you handle it all. Here is what you should know as a trailing spouse in Africa to get the most out of the life-changing experience.
Discuss the move with your companion
It would help a lot if you planned out the technicalities of the agreement in place with your spouse ahead of time. Discuss a task division that benefits the entire family; this will lessen the probability of conflict. You both need to be involved in decision-making matters like choosing a suitable house, school, and the like.
However, the requirement for communication does not end there. Open communication develops family relationships and contributes to healthy family life. Involve each other in choices, encourage each other, and share your everyday experiences.
Effective dialogue promotes family bonds and leads to thriving family relations.
Understand the laws and customs of the country
It is good to explore the laws and traditions of the nation where you will be residing. Seeing as there will probably be a few surprises, they won’t hit you as hard. There may be limits on what you wear. Other cultures limit how you behave in public with your partner (i.e., no public shows of affection). Besides that, there might be laws regarding alcohol consumption and prohibitions like taking pictures of people.
Knowing such issues before you depart can help you adapt to your new routine more quickly.
Understand that it requires time to settle
Families need time to adjust to their new surroundings. For both children and adults, dealing with several changes at once may be daunting. A low-key settling-in phase should be allowed so that everyone may begin to adjust to the circumstances. During this settling phase, there are some key considerations to consider.
a. Keep your mental and physical health in check
Many primary caregivers become so engrossed in their duty that they forget about other elements of their personalities. Favorite hobbies, particularly physical ones, help reduce stress and give much-needed “me” time.
According to academics, immigrants must combine their native culture with their new culture for successful multiculturalism.
b. Make a professional resumption strategy
Many trailing partners leave their careers in the origin countries to accompany their partners abroad. This can result in a time of unemployment on your resume, a decrease in household income, and, ultimately, more strain on your relationship.
If you want to work at the new location, you might be inclined to get started as soon as you unpack your belongings. However, waiting a few weeks, if not months, might be a better alternative. It would help if you allowed yourself to adjust to your new circumstances without the added burden of a new job. Give yourself some time to recuperate from jet lag. Spend some time exploring your new surroundings and learning about the local culture. It will help with coping with the early phases of culture shock and will help you.
On the other hand, you can speak with your former employer; perhaps there is a method for you to continue working for them while working remotely? It’s important to consider that your area of expertise in your home nation might not have the same purpose or value in your new country. Have as much local experience as possible. Having regional experience will be essential for you. This is regardless of how employable you are in the former country, even if it means volunteering first. After knocking on enough doors, one will ultimately open.
Keep your network up to date
Whether your stay in your new home nation is intended to be a professional move or a career break, make sure you create a new network while keeping your current one. Attend your spouse’s office parties, meet other trailing spouses, and participate in networking events. It is typically about who you know in expatriate communities, not what you know in expatriate communities. You might end up finding a job from the new network you create.
Keep yourself busy after the settling phase as a trailing spouse in Africa
The more activities you participate in and individuals you meet, the simpler the shift. If you volunteer at a local charity or obtain temporary work placements, you will be able to add valuable skills and experience to your CV. It will either help you secure a job in the country or provide evidence of what you have been doing when/if you return home to your home country.
Whether you are a new trailing spouse or an old pro who has relocated to five different countries in the last five years, there are always support groups and networks available to you if you need them.
For many, moving overseas to follow your spouse’s work might be a considerable commitment. It may entail giving up your existing social life and group of friends, visiting your relatives each weekend, and even your own work. None of these things are trivial, which is why it is critical that you begin making the most of your time abroad as soon as possible.
Please visit our website and reach out if you require more assistance with your immigration or connections to local support organizations in your new country.
Should you have any question on the above article, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org