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My Midlife Journey as an Expat

By Meha M

They say that midlife crisis is real. It's a time when a person makes life changing decisions, becomes selfish with their time, and is ready to take on anything. Two years ago, I found myself. Whether it was a midlife crisis, I am still not sure.

However, it was a time when I put myself first and everything and everybody took a back seat.

I took on a teaching position in Beijing, China and, due to the pandemic, taught online for an entire year. As COVID-19 continued to reign supreme in 2021, my contract in Beijing was terminated. Here I was, all equipped with my new online teaching skills, and decided to continue to look for another country that would accept me. Weeks into the new year, I secured a job with Dasman Bilinguil in Kuwait that was to begin in September of 2021. Throughout the months leading up to my move, I dabbled with tutoring online just to keep myself in the loop.

COVID-19 continued to infiltrate the world, with intermittent lockdowns and a rising number of deaths.

In June, I had to initiate my paperwork for Kuwait. With COVID-19 looming large, the process began. Trips to the police station to secure my police clearance and emails to various government institutions like SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority), became the order of my day. It took several emails and a few weeks before SAQA would respond. In the meantime, I managed to acquire the services of an agent, Chantal Booysens, who was ever ready to help with attestation and the entire process. I was grateful that she was upfront in letting me know that due to COVID-19 all applications were going at a snail’s pace. I awaited my NOC from my HR and for some reason that, too, took a while.

By the time I had received my NOC (National Occupation Certification), it was valid for only six more weeks.

This meant my documents had to be attested at DIRCO (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) within six weeks. The schools had opened by this time and DIRCO still had my documents.

The fear set in as my visa was going to expire. Guess what? It did, and there was still no attested documents from DIRCO.

My school had to reapply for a second visa only after the first was sent back to Kuwait.

In all this time, I had started teaching online, without any guarantee of when I was to reach Kuwait.

The other stress factor was the possibility of not getting the vaccines in time. Thankfully I was fully vaccinated, applied on the many different apps for my QR code, all in desperation to get myself to Kuwait.

While I was waiting for my second visa, DIRCO had released my documents and it was a matter of days before I left. I was on a WhatsApp group for expats in Kuwait and I got anxious when I realized that getting into the country was becoming more difficult. However, with documents safely stamped, I was relieved to get on a flight on 8 October 2021 and was safely in Kuwait a day later. Thus began my journey as an expat in Kuwait, midlife crisis and all. I am grateful and full of anticipation as I embark on a new chapter in my life.

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