ON BEING AN EX-PAT
We come to this new country with stars in our eyes and hope in our hearts. Expectations are high and we are riding a brand new horse called Adventure. We find a home and settle in. Menfolk, if any, go off to work. Children, if any, ditto, new schools, new friends.
We take the family dog for a walk and unpack the last of the boxes. Satisfied with our efforts, we make a cup of Rooibos tea and take it outside. (Assuming it’s a nice day.)
Then, it hits us. We are Homesick. Yes, Homesick with a capital H. We miss the peculiar humor that is so typically South African. We miss parents and siblings and friends. Droë wors and biltong, bobotie and koeksisters, putu pap, boerebeskuit and Mrs. Ball’s Chutney. We miss rugby and braaivleis.
Now, what? First thought to mind? A stranger is just a new friend you haven’t met. Clichéd but true and no, I’m not belittling the importance of what you left behind but you have to move on.
America, or wherever you are stands ready to welcome you but you have to do your part and from the hard lessons learnt in 73 years, this is what I know to be foolproof.
GO OUT AND DO WHAT YOU LIKE DOING AND YOU WILL MEET LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE.
I’m a fitness junkie so I always headed for the nearest gym and some of my dearest friends today are fellow fitness junkies, I like tennis, swimming, quilting, knitting – I met my soul sister in a knitting circle.
Don’t speak the language? Take it up; some of my fondest memories are the friends I made studying French in Belgium. The lass from the Australian Embassy who could commiserate that nobody understood our love for Marmite sandwiches; the German lady with the wicked talent for mimicry; the Japanese business man that simply could not wrap his tongue around the French pronunciation. (READ: HOME LEOPOLD.)
Then, there’s church. Maybe it’s time to give it a try again. Stay for coffee and Krispy Kreme (yummy) donuts after church; joint one of the outreach groups; volunteer to help. If you have kids, the same thing applies at school.
Those endless snowy winters? If possible, get outside. I never learned to ski but sledding and sliding (I ruined the seat of at least one snow suit) and snow shoeing was great fun. Snowed in? Read, write letters, research and plan what you are going to do when you can get out. Knit, quilt, take up a new craft, bake cookies and try new recipes.
Reach out friends, reach out. Wherever you are, your new country stands ready to welcome you, but you have to do your part.
Met baie liefde en dosyne van my famous HUGS. Seblief, skryf vir my.