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  • Writer's pictureVal Njoroge

Global Citizen: Two Sides of a Beautiful Coin

Soft Flex

My favorite definition of the term ‘global citizen’ is: someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices. I love the idea of a world where everyone starts on the same playing field and where we are all working towards a common goal of leaving the world better than we found it.

For me, global citizenship started with my parents. They instilled wanderlust in me and I took up the mantle in adulthood and so travel is one of my core pillars of life. I’ve sought to understand & participate in the world by visiting different places, making an effort to connect with people from all over the world and serving varied demographics through my work.

I did a Q&A on my Instagram where I answered questions about my experiences in pursuit to understand the world and it got me reflecting more introspectively. Like any exceptional experience, there are always two sides to it and being a global citizen is no exception.

I’ll share a little about what’s been scary and what’s been amazing. If you’re curious, read on!

Not-so great: Living in between

This is one of the fears I’ve had every time I’ve moved. Inevitably, you miss weddings, birthdays, funerals… milestones. It can feel like you are missing out on life at home, getting left behind. This is especially tough when you are going to an environment where you don’t have deep connections, so you feel like you don’t fit in in the new place.

It can feel like you are getting the short end of both sticks; missing out on those who are close to you (and so getting less close with them) and not being able to get deep enough with the new people (because, let’s face it, making friends can be tough, especially if you are introverted, like me).

The truth is, you are living in-between and it takes work to maintain & build deep connections. Knowing this upfront helps a tonne with creating that feeling of home everywhere you go.

Bright side: Audacity and intentionality

That’s the flip-side of this! I have become AUDACIOUS when it comes to building new relationships; I walk up to people on the streets and start talking to them, I treat making friends like I would a romantic relationship (text often, say nice things, make cute plans), I ask for help a lot more! And you know what, it’s not been so bad! More often than not, the risk is worth it.

With maintaining relationships, I tried being super planned and organized - I tried having consistent virtual dates with friends back home; between timezones & busy lives, that backfired 😂. So, I tried a different approach; I have a sort of tracker that I use to make sure I’ve touched base at different intervals and if we aren’t able to connect, I send little signs that I’m thinking of them. This could be as simple as sending a meme online to more elaborate gestures like sending flowers or food to their house (yeah, sometimes I live in a rom-com 😏).

Then, when I do have face-to-face time, I try to make sure that it's high quality time with intentional and FUN conversations; even if it’s just once or twice. (Full disclosure, this is easier said than done!)

I’m still figuring this out, but I’d say it’s made for more meaningful friendships in my life and I’d want to do this even if I wasn’t living away.

Not so great: Legal & Admin stuff

Weh, traveling can be STRESSFUL! Being stranded abroad for any reason can be traumatic. Ask anyone who’s lost their passport on foreign land. If you ask me, the concept of a visa is really sh**ty and should be eliminated all together! However, this is the world we live in so it pays to understand how the system works.

Immigrating is a whole other level. Most immigration processes take time and money; so financial planning is essential. More often than not, if you make a mistake, you have to repeat some parts of the process which means even more expenses!

In addition to the actual cost of the visa and proving to your host country that you won’t be a burden to their citizens, you also need to think about the costs associated with settling down. Rent deposits, furniture, where applicable: cold weather closes, overcoming language barriers, tests required for the job market. The costs can be MAD!

If you’d like to move, I’d always recommend choosing a country that is pro-immigrant, so you can ease the burden a bit. Spend time researching what other people’s experiences have been and what programs exist to make your transition easier. My process of moving to Canada vs UK or the States have been night & day! Canada actually wants you around and you feel the difference in the application process - I’m going through Express Entry.

Bright Side: Access & Hustle

The greener grass; you get access to rights & experiences that are tied to being abroad/an avid traveller. This goes far and wide; from job eligibility to financial opportunities like being able to invest in some opportunities because you have a bank account abroad to travel perks e.g. it’s much easier to get most visas when you’ve already been granted a visa by ‘powerful’ countries.

Secondly, going through all the admin sludge gives you chops to be a real hustler & great negotiator; a skill that you can apply to several situations. I’ve learned how to negotiate for all sorts of exceptions that have saved my butt because of how much time I’ve spent negotiating for documents to be accepted by visa offices or to be let on a flight I’m late for 😬

Finally, it forces you to be organized! Like I mentioned, mistakes are expensive and sometimes traumatic, so you learn very quickly to make less of them.

So, I hope this has sparked your interest and you’ll join me in exploring the world when we are no longer in the COVID-19 ghetto! #GetVaccinated

Gimme pound gimme pound

Gimme euro gimme yen

Gimme pound gimme pound

Gimme euro gimme yen

I'm international pay me, pay me

Still taking over the world,



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