I Moved to Ethiopia: My Self-Care Tips for Motherland ReturneesBy Aida Solomon
Published: August 29, 2018
“So, here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
Never enough for both.”
― Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada
One year ago, I made a leap of faith and decided to move to my parents’ birth country of Ethiopia. As a diaspora woman living in the busy capital of Addis Ababa, I was introduced to a new fast-paced lifestyle. Although I was raised in an Ethiopian household and was taught about Ethiopian culture, moving and transitioning to life in Ethiopia was completely different from what I expected.
Being away from family and friends, struggling with a familiar but new language, and adjusting to a different work culture can at times feel overwhelming.
Here are a few self-care tips I try to incorporate in my day-to-day routine to keep myself feeling centered and motivated as a not-so-foreign foreigner living in Ethiopia.
Master the language
It can be intimidating to speak a new language, especially if you have an accent or make grammatical mistakes in front of others. Don’t be discouraged, instead be proactive and hire a language tutor. It can be easy to surround yourself with other English speakers in order to avoid having to speak the native language more than you have to. However, taking an active step towards improving your speaking ability is empowering. Remember: stumbling and making mistakes are all part of the journey, and having a sense of humor about it helps, too!
One of the hardest parts of living abroad is the sense of loneliness. Your colleagues or friends go home to their family, while you go home to an empty house. Explore different meet-ups for diasporans living in the country, especially via Facebook or Google groups. Look for international organizations such as the Rotary Club to get involved in and local volunteer opportunities. Networking and meeting other diasporans who are living away from family is comforting, especially when the holiday season rolls around. By networking with other diasporans, you will come to realize that you are not alone in your journey or challenges.
Keep track of your journey
Adjusting to moving to a new country comes with its fair share of responsibilities. It’s easy to lose focus on why you moved in the first place. Write down three personal goals and three professional goals you want to accomplish in the next month, three months, and six months. When you have accomplished a goal, celebrate. Write down a positive mantra in a visible location, such as your bathroom mirror or vision board on your bedroom wall. Documenting your journey is a gift that you can give your future self to reflect on your time living abroad.
Use traditional remedies
While living in the Motherland, you may not always have access to your favorite go-to self-care remedies such as crystals or oils. However, ask locals what traditional remedies are available for you to incorporate into your self-care routine. For example, black seed oil, flaxseed, and turmeric are commonly-used remedies in Ethiopia. Black seed oil is used in hot tea to help fight colds, flaxseed can be added to shakes to help relieve menstrual cramps, and turmeric is used as a face-mask to achieve clear skin. While my favorite or go-to products may not always be available in stores (Amazon is not available in Ethiopia), I have found incorporating other traditional remedies just as effective.
Living as a diasporan in Ethiopia has been an exciting adventure, filled with both hurdles and interesting discoveries I have made about the country and most importantly myself. By consistently practicing these self-care tips, I have been better able to acclimate to life abroad.