“People are strange when you’re a stranger, Faces look ugly when you’re alone” – The Doors, – People are strange.
Hello again my lovely.
Before I start I just want to point out that Im not here to discuss the political pro’s and con’s of immigration and give out statistics (not today anyway). I just want to talk about the human element of what it is like to live in a foreign country.
Immigrant, Expat, Foreign National and of course (insert chosen swear word here) foreigner these are now my labels that I carry with me and I am absolutely fine with all of them. At least I have only had to deal with the last label a handful of times and I wasn’t in any physical danger, just people muttering it under their breath because of some perceived cultural wrong I had unknowingly committed.
We all have our cultural differences and sometimes South Africans look at me with shock and horror when words come out of my mouth that is considered rude and offensive that would be a completely acceptable thing to say in my home town. So when you are in your new country people are going to seem odd and strange, you will seem odd and strange to others too and that is ok. I am acutely aware of the fact I am not South African and it is not my culture and they don’t always understand mine.
1st thing to remember
Despite some cultural differences we are all human. We are essentially the same underneath it all. We all know the frustration of not being able to find the end of the sellotape, or that stomach dropping fear when you put your hand in your pocket and can’t find your wallet while at the till. Alternatively we all know the joy of curling up on the couch with a loved one to watch our fave movie or phone calls to your bestie over analysing the latest piece of gossip. If we just start talking about everyday life we realise we are not so different.
2nd thing to remember
Culture Shock is a very real thing and it is a very bewildering experience! I will do a whole other post about this at a later stage going into more detail, but just so you know don’t be surprised if you start to resent your host country and all the weird habits they have, when they do things that normal people just don’t do! I stood and cried in a supermarket when I first got here because I had spent 20 minutes looking for Oxo Cubes and they didn’t have any! what sort of barbaric country have I come to that doesn’t have Oxo cubes? don’t worry you will adapt and overcome it. On the plus side I can now get Oxo Cubes in SA!! yay for small victories!
3rd thing to remember.
Some people will treat you badly because you are foreign. All I have to say is stuff ’em! and thankfully for me those people have been in the minority. I have never understood this. Dislike me because I am outspoken, opinionated or can be a moody cow at times but not liking me for the simple fact I was born in a different country is just weird. Your argument is basically – you weren’t originally born on the same piece of land as me, so therefore I don’t like you – see what I mean? it’s a strange reason to hate someone! When someone starts moaning about the immigrants and then does a quick “oh no sorry I didn’t mean you” just remember you are another human, inhabiting this huge planet, that has just as much right to stake out your little spot on earth, than anyone else does.. claim it and own it! I do! (this goes for everyone wherever you are). If however you are being physically or verbally attacked that is a different story, I have never experienced this and I honestly wouldn’t know what to do if it happened. If you see someone being made to feel unsafe because of xenophobia please do what you can to safely help.
South Africa has been good to me and I am extremely grateful. I have been lucky enough to make a gorgeous little family of my own that has made this whole experience worth while. I have made amazing supportive friendships too. If you are antisocial like me then this process takes a while but you will get there in the end. The majority of people are kind, helpful, friendly and mostly inquisitive. You will tell the story of why you’re in their country time and time again. I appreciate it, it means people are trying to get to know you, they are trying to find some common ground.
It’s the people that make life great not the piece of land you reside on.
Thank you for joining me again. Bye for now.