― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
Hello my lovely, so if you’re here it means you are thinking of leaving, in the process of leaving, or have already left. All of them are equally exciting and nerve wracking.
I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be like to emigrate, as we are all different and can go through the same experience, and yet have completely different stories to tell at the end of it. I am going to share my stories and what I have learned. I hope maybe it will help someone along the way.
Let’s start at the beginning. I came to South Africa for a holiday when I was 7 years old with my mum and my best friend (she is still my bestie 31 years later!). We stayed with my Aunt in Joburg and I thought it was the most magical place on earth and was desperate to come back as an adult. Skip forward to when I was 21. My aunt and cousin came back to England for a funeral and I came back to Joburg with them just for a month, which turned into 2 months, which turned into me buying a one way ticket back to South Africa before I had even left the country to go back to England. The three months back home felt like an eternity, I just wanted to get back to SA and the man that I had met within a week of being in Joburg. In hindsight I wish had appreciated that three months more. In 16 years I have only been home 4 times not because I don’t want to, but the country I moved to is a developing country.
Most countries will expect you to arrive debt free and with money to support yourself in your account. If you are moving to a country with a weaker currency than your homeland’s currency be prepared for the fact that at some point you will probably be earning that currency. Its great in the beginning I came with Pounds and was living in Rands! Ciggies were cheap, clothes were cheap, in fact everything was cheap as chips I had a wonderful time. I was no longer poor I could buy whatever I wanted! Then I had no money left, had to get a job and earn Rands, long story short I can no longer buy whatever I want and that is why I have only been home 4 times in 16 years. So my point is go careful with your money (unless your wealthy then you can ignore this) or you will not be going home for a long time.
If you haven’t left yet enjoy your last bit of time at home with your friends and family! enjoy your last bit of normality, life as you know it will never be the same again. I know you are probably itching to get started with your new life and all the excitement that brings. You are probably tired of sitting there daydreaming about how great everything will be and how dull as dish water everything seems at home in comparison. Let’s be honest if you thought your life was so great you wouldn’t be leaving would you?. But please trust me when I say that one day you will miss that dull as dish water place! I never thought I would miss Northampton but I do! I miss the people and I miss the food but most of all I miss my family and friends. You might think you are misunderstood in your home town but when you are literally misunderstood because of your accent and no one knows what the hell you’re talking about when you say “I could murder a Mr Kipling’s French Fancy and a cuppa” then you truly know what its like to be misunderstood. (for anyone who is not British I don’t want to kill Mr Kipling’s French mistress, Im just saying I could eat a nice little cake with a cup of tea! don’t worry you will get used to explaining yourself all the time it’s not so bad)
It’s going to be ok! I don’t want to put you off leaving but I don’t want to set you up for a fall and tell you its going to be easy, because its not. If you have family and friends that you love this is going to be the hardest thing you ever do. But you will be ok! you will probably find you are stronger and more resourceful than you ever imagined.
Well I hope those three pieces of advice will help you in your planning process. Please feel free to leave any comments about how your journey is going. The more we share our emigration stories the less alone we feel.
Bye for now