African Expat in Malaysia

Ghanaian expat couple in Malaysia

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Martha and Jorm Ossom are a Ghanaian expat couple living in Malaysia.

We’ve been friends now for over a year now and I must admit they’re an amazing couple anyone would want as friends. They’re blessed with a son.

The most important things we have in common is that we are married Africans living in Malaysia with working husbands and stay at home wives and a toddler. Which is why I decided to have them as the very first couple to feature on my blog. 

Martha and Jorm its great to have you share your experiences with me.

For how long have you been married? How did u meet? And how has it been so far?

We’ve been married for 2.5years. Jorm ” It’s kind of tricky because to me  we knew each other way back in junior secondary school, Martha’s sister was my class mate mate so I kind of knew her from a distance. We also attended the same church. We didn’t really talk through all that time because I was afraid she wasn’t going to like me so we pretty much stayed friends for a long time. Then when we all left school and started working we established contact and one thing led to the other and we moved on from there. 

We have normal marital challenge which we tackle but I must say it’s been good so far. We can’t complain.

Jorm How do you balance family and work?

Honestly, erhmmm this balance is ever evolving for me due to the nature of my work.  I try to make the most of the little i have with my family because my work involves working very odd and long hours,  so I’d rather focus on the quality of my time at home.

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Jorm u work for the number 1 in Oil Field Services in the world,  How did you land such a good job in Malaysia and what are your major challenges working there as a foreigner?

I was already working for the company back in my home country Ghana for about 4years and I was due for a promotion which wasn’t available in the country of operations so I was transferred to Malaysia. 

It’s quite funny you won’t believe I didn’t know the name of the company until a week to my interview. I was recommended by an old school mate and when I went for the interview i met the expectations and that’s how I got in. 

Working  in Malaysia as an expat is so much more different than working in your home country. There’s more responsibilities and just the entire setting too. I miss the social aspect of hanging out and or chatting with your friends and colleagues.

Ive often heard several stories of how black people have experienced racial discrimination here in Malaysia. What is been your experience on this?

Jorm : The most amusing one, imagine you are in an elevator with enough room to accommodate more people, and your neighbors because you are of a different skin colour precisely black refuse to get on. I think it feels pretty demeaning. Which I think is one of the disadvantages of being black and living in Malaysia. There is most often  some negative perception about your personality

Martha:When I just got to Malaysia, just like anyone, I had a hard time finding my way around or  how to find what.  One time while shopping at 1Utama mall, I tried to approach a certain lady to ask for directions but the way she moved away from me it was like she had seen a monster or something. This left me feeling really bad. 

I know living as an expat has a dark side for many what would you say has been/or is the dark side of living in a foreign land and what are the safe guards you’ve put in place?

Like I mentioned earlier just being away from your extended family and friends to me is my major setback.

Also on the professional side, the local colleagues expect the tougher jobs thrown at you because you are the expatriate and therefore receive more benefits than they do. It’s a perception which I tend to agree with. As to the veracity of it no one has really looked into it.

I try as much as possible to stay in touch with family back in Ghana, thank God for social media and other means of communication. 

 Also the church has been a big part of our lives. We attend Kingdomcity and are  privileged to host a connect group in our home. This has kept us very engaged. 

Martha what are your biggest challenges as a stay at home mom in Malaysia?

Well it’s mainly boredom. My husband is away for the most part of the day and my son goes to school too so I’m stuck with the same routine day in day out. Which can be very boring sometimes.

Do u sometimes feel limited because the system of Malaysia is not very flexible when it comes to working moms? 

Oh sure. I wish I could find a job to support my husband and my family too.

Whats your favourite part of living in Malaysia??

Everything. I love the transport system especially the grab car service. You can book a ride from the comfort of your home. That’s one thing which I really enjoyed which is not available in my home country. 

I also love the internet facility. This is such a luxury back in Ghana. 

Most importantly the fact that I get to travel with my family to the neighbouring islands/countries with clean clear waters and white beaches is what I always look forward to. 

 Does Malaysian food excite you?

Jorm: I personally believe food can never provide a source of entertainment or enjoyment. Food is just a necessity of life. Food is food. If I am hungry I would order Malaysian food or eat it when available but no special preference. 

Whats your opinion about the people of Malaysia?

Jorm: I have  few aquaintances   I find the people to be both inquisitive to know about you, but a little afraid. Unfortunately the movies haven’t done enough justice to the African race. All they know about Africans is gun violence, poverty, dependence , fraud etc they really do not know much about our drive, our intellectual ability, our enterprising spirit, our resilience , our tenacity to survive no matter the circumstances. They unfortunately put us in the same ‘basket of deplorables’. 

Next  I’d like to categorize them into two. The ignorant ones and the exposed ones. The ignorant ones are those who would normally act racist towards Africans because they do not know any better. Meanwhile the exposed ones  can be the sweetest set of people. 

Martha: I generally think because you are black you receive this negative vibe or stare. But the perception changes once they get to know you. 

Overall I think they are generally nice people. 

What are your long term plans as far as living in this part of the world is concerned?

Jorm: there are no long term plans of being here. At best it can be termed medium term. I don’t plan to be here for more than 10yrs. As to  where next I’m not sure. I go where work calls me. 

What’s your best Advice for African expats who would like to move to Malaysia?

 firstly, i would say you should be open minded 

Secondly, lower your expectations and also expect that you would be treated differently.

Thirdly, do not take things personal

Fourthly, have a good plan about your life and be sure of what you want. It keeps you focused.

What’s your best marriage advice??

No two marriages are thesame. You can never know a person until you’ve married the person. In Marriage you shouldn’t form firm expectations. Do not expect your marriage to be like your parents. Do not try to photocopy another person’s marriage and do not compare your marriage to another. 

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