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A survival message from one disillusioned diaspora

A survival message from one disillusioned diaspora

I moved to Ethiopia, now what?

If you find yourself in Ethiopia asking this question, the answer may not be simple to answer. Whether you’ve been lucky enough to be back after so many years or arrived for the first time, I’m sure your excitement level is high. That’s good. Keep that attitude going because if you decide to stay, you might be faced with disillusionment. Keep reading, though, you may find a solution.

Relocating to any unfamiliar place can be exciting at first but daunting once you’ve settled. I want to share with you my story as an Ethiopian-American woman who has traveled and lived in many countries, but I am now finding it difficult to resettle in my home country.

It’s easy to get in a funk if you’ve decided to move and live somewhere even remotely new to you. I’ve heard numerous stories of people who left Ethiopia discouraged and disappointed because it was all too much. Unless you’re lucky, no one prepares you for the challenges you’re about to face after relocating. You’re kind of thrown in without a life raft and your survival depends on your skills to navigate through the rough waters of bureaucracy, cultural surprises, and a slow moving lifestyle.

I understand perhaps some people come to Ethiopia to exploit her, but my message is for those who genuinely want to do good and be a part of the thriving country. If you want to succeed in anything, you have to learn to bend and conform to that society. Adjusting your expectations and attitude can help you mentally deal with challenges a little better. At least that’s what I think. For me, by far Ethiopia has been the hardest place to live in because I don’t know how things work here yet, I am a woman, I am a diaspora, and I lack the connections needed to be successful. Yes, all these reasons might sound like excuses, but when you live here, they’re also the realities you learn to overcome.  


So, what I want to share with you are solutions to problems you might face as a diaspora (woman). My hope is that through retelling my story, I can evoke my readers to face whatever challenge with confidence and determination.

And, I believe that the sure way to turn your disillusionment into success is through trial, error, and a bit of humor. With that said, I’ll share 8 helpful tips and sketches that will hopefully guide you not only to survive but thrive in Ethiopia.

8 survival tips as a diaspora in Ethiopia


1. Get an ID card (yellow card). This ID card will help you navigate through Ethiopia like a local, and it will make your transition much easier.

2. Find friends that understand you. Trust me you will need them to occasionally vent and get things off your shoulders.


3. Do something to take care of yourself on a regular basis. Self care is important no matter where you are. Mental well-being is super important and necessary.

4. Ignore haters, bystanders, and learn not to take things personally.


5. If you’re new, navigating through the bureaucracy by yourself is very frustrating, so my advice is to hire someone or find someone to help you do your legal work.

6. Get out of Addis for a dose of R & R. Taking a break from a bustling city may be just what you need to regain your drained energy.


7. Identify your power-place. Mine is my home, my studio, and specific spots where I can get together with friends or family.  

8. And if it’s not working out for you leave, you can always come back.

Have you lived in Ethiopia long enough to share some helpful tips?  Leave your comments below. Also, likes and shares are welcomed.

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