The biggest challenge facing most South Africans abroad is to get to know new people and to adjust better. At Worldwide we have in the past written many articles on ways how you can adjust by keeping contact with your family and friends in South Africa, learning a new language and so forth.
The best way to ensure that you can be the best you in a new environment is however to build a network. Networks are not only for people that would like to do business with others; to network is also a valuable way to build up a support base for those days when the longing gets too much and everybody is just too far away.
Get involved at a church
There are quite a lot of churches abroad offering sermons in Afrikaans and attracting large groups of South African expats. It is the ideal place to meet people that not only have an understanding of what you are going through, but who also experienced it themselves. Together you can be nostalgic, share each other’s sadness and support one another when longing back home. The bonus is that you get to make friends that will be able to braai with you as only South Africans can.
Join Facebook groups and groups for South Africans in your area
There are a lot of these groups on Facebook. Here you can ask questions regarding things you are unsure of, for example what the American equivalent for cake flour is, how they refer to “half and half”, as well as the names of trusted property agents in the vicinity.
Make new friends and teach them about the South African way
Everyone always says you must make new friends and learn more about the culture of your adopted country. Try to engage with your new surroundings and to adjust as best you can, but also do the opposite. Make new friends and teach them a bit about South African hospitality; invite them over for a bring-and-braai for example and get to know each other properly in a relaxed atmosphere.
Search for true South African products
Find a shop selling all your favourite South African products as soon as possible, thereby allowing you to quickly add a bottle Mrs Balls chutney to your food when the yearning for South Africa simply gets too much. Worldwide’s World Guide is a good place to start searching!
Become a part of Worldwide’s online community
Worldwide is your online home abroad. Come and meet up with South African expats from across the globe and stay informed about news in South Africa also affecting you. Make contact and share your adventures with us; we would really like to hear from you!
This post is also available in: Afrikaans