A South African living in the UK

What my husband literally said to me the other day; “You can take me out of South Africa but you cannot take the South African out of me.”

As grateful as we are to have had the opportunity to immigrate and to set up our new lives living here in England, we will not be able to accept the fact that lunch is called dinner and dinner is called tea. Naartjies don’t exist, circles are referred to as roundabouts and robots are man-made human-like creations, and not in fact traffic lights.

A few things you’ll miss, you’ll accept and you’ll be thankful for:

  • The food! You know you’re missing a braai when you find yourself outside next to the weber, trying to light the briquettes when it’s 2 degrees and you’ve got three of your K-Way jackets on. The bacon is somehow thicker and can be mistaken for a small pork chop and those fancy deboned, and skinless chicken thighs are a cheap and affordable cut which I highly recommend as a staple during your weekly Aldi grocery shop.

  • Schooling is different. The children learn to read and write at a very early age so if you are considering leaving South Africa with a child in primary school, it helps to make sure you focus a little on organising extra lessons beforehand. You then start hearing people talk about their GCSEs and A Levels and realise that you should probably start getting in with the crowd and read up on what those are, so you don’t fall behind too.

  • Do it yourself. Everyone seems to be major pros at doing those Covid self-test kits on themselves at home which really makes me appreciate all the assistance I once had when needing to have a Covid test done in South Africa. I’m sure it is a popular mistake made by many South Africans in the UK, when you arrive at the petrol station and awkwardly wait patiently for some assistance to fill up your car and then realise that the only person that will be refueling your car is in fact you. Plus that embarrassing moment at the grocery store when you quickly learn that not only do you need to pack your own groceries yourself but you need to pack it all up quick and in record time before the person behind you starts to judge you for being a slacker.

  • The change of wildlife and animals. Foxes and hedgehogs become the new norm and pheasants become the new hadeda. You tend to find yourself having to do a double take whilst walking past a field of wooly Alpacas and Shetland Ponies.

  • Learn your imperial system. It’s important to know how many kilometers there are in a mile and that when you weigh something you’ll be referring to stones and pounds. The plugs here are weirdly square shaped, and this is the one and only option.

  • Houses are small, less is more. The space you had back home feels like a luxury in comparison however once you learn to adapt, it can be rather refreshing. Also, smaller homes mean less to clean and maintain because in case you weren’t sure, the upkeep and cleanliness of your home is now all up to you.

  • Transporting goods is expensive. So, Facebook marketplace has a lot of items for free… Free as long as you can collect them yourself, you become the removal company so if you’re looking for a quick smart job opportunity then here you go, you can thank me later.

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