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Kim Ritchie

Kim Ritchie - expat stories

Expat stories!

Where do you live now and how long have you been there?

I’m currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with my husband, 3 kids, stray cat and dog we’ve acquired since living here!! We’ve lived here nearly 4 years now and the time has just flown by!

Where have you lived so far?

This is my first expat experience with kids in tow,  but I spent a few years living on and off in Canada in my youth.

Are all your family members living with you, if not where are they? 

They’re all here…..trust me! I can hear them screaming and fighting in the background as I type!

Where is your home country?

Straya Mate! 

The CoronaVirus

How has the CoronaVirus affected you?

Well so far, apart from being in lockdown we are doing ok. I’m an Art Teacher and have been teaching online for the past couple of weeks…..I’m lucky I have a job, but teaching a creative, practical subject online is a little soul destroying and I can’t help but worry about my year 12 students who are in the middle of making major projects for their HSC! I know I’m not alone though and we are all just doing the best we can under the circumstances. My husband is also working from home and his job is safe for now too…..he has set his office up in the lounge room (insert eye roll here)!

Where are you now and where is the rest of your family?

We are in downtown Sri Kembangan, Malaysia! It’s a hip and happening place (insert another bigger eye roll here)! My family is split between Toowoomba and Melbourne. 

Are you in self-isolation, lockdown or are you socially distancing and what rules do you need to follow?

In Malaysia, we are on DAY 13 of lockdown!! We are only allowed to go to the supermarket if it’s essential and only one person per car. There are police and army at roadblocks and as of yesterday, they shut down even more toll roads! My husband went to top up my toll card and was denied. We are very fortunate to live in a house with a backyard and pool in a lovely green leafy gated community. We still have the option of walking the dog and going for a ride on our bikes. Many of my friends are stuck in tiny one-bedroom apartments and all pools, gyms etc are shut down. I know I would go crazy if I was in their situation!

What do you find the hardest about your situation right now?

Hmmm being at home isn’t really an issue…..my kids are coping ok and managing to entertain themselves as always. As the days go by though it feels a little like groundhog day and my husband is starting to irritate me being around all the time hahaha….just kidding, this is probably the most time we’ve had together as a family in 10 years!! 

I do struggle with the idea of one of my parents falling ill. I’m stuck in Malaysia and can’t get home and even if they did get sick I wouldn’t even be able to be by their bedside. 

I’m a very social person…..I love being around people! I’m a bit like a suckerfish….always in peoples space! People make me happy and make me feel good and not being able to go to work or catch up with my mates on a daily basis is hard! We are finding ‘virtual’ ways around that though! 

Isolation tips

Do you have any tips for anyone in lockdown or self-isolation?

  • Find new ways of entertaining yourself!! My daughter and I are very creative and outgoing….we’ve been making music videos and sharing them online with family and friends to break up the depressing corona news! People need love and laughter in a time like this. 
  • Do the things you always wish you could do while in isolation….you may not get the chance again. Cook that new recipe (if you can find the ingredients in your local supermarket), read those books on your shelf you never have time to get too! Binge-watch as much Netflix as you can manage! Play with your kids….build forts, throw a disco, have a movie night! The list of ways to entertain yourself is endless….
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re having a ‘hard’ day! My first tough day came on about day 5 of online teaching and in between every class, I was a bawling mess…… I missed my students, I felt like my creativity was being stunted, I was sick of my family and I missed my colleagues and friends dearly. I think the reality of the entire situation really hit home that day and the thought of teaching art online for weeks on end just felt overwhelming! I just embraced it though and let myself feel crappy all day.  I checked in with my work ‘buddy’ to let her know I was having a crap day and an hour later a delivery of cake ended up on my doorstep from her!! 
  • On that note, a buddy system is a great idea! Our school has been fantastic about checking in on us and making sure we look after our mental health and the mental health of others through a ‘buddy’ system!  Check-in with your family and friends…..make sure they’re coping ok! Record them a funny video so they can see your face, play games together online, host a music appreciation club….just keep checking in! Especially to your family and friends who are doing this alone or who may have lost their jobs. It’s a stressful time for everyone and we all need love and support right now.
  • Don’t stress over what you can’t control! I feel for the people who have lost their jobs and worry about what our world will look like once we get through this but I don’t ‘worry’ about contracting the virus! I can take every precaution necessary and still be one of the unlucky ones…….just let go of what’s out of your control and keep living life to the full….even if it is from the confines of your own house! Be thankful you have a place to live, I saw on the news the other day that people in India were self-isolating in trees because they had nowhere to go! I know I’m so incredibly blessed in my current situation compared to others.

What are you doing differently now compared to a few months ago?

I’m eating WAY too much!! That’s what I’m doing differently hahaha! In all seriousness, though the main thing that’s changed is the way I shop now! My husband is paranoid and makes sure I have gloves, mask, hand sanitiser etc…..shopping once a week is the highlight of my day…..just getting out of the house is a treat!

The way I interact with my family and friends is also different. We arrange weekly catch-ups online as a group, share a drink and have a few laughs together. It’s still not the same as seeing each other face to face though. 

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