Here are some tips for South Africans abroad to adjust to their new surroundings:
We are all aware of the emotional rollercoaster associated with emigration. One of the strongest emotions is a sense of loneliness. To feel that you’re alone among strangers in a foreign country can take its toll, but there are ways to overcome the initial loneliness. Here are some tips.
Social media and online services
More than likely you will make use of social media to stay in touch with friends and family in South Africa, as well as to show them what you are doing in the new, foreign country. But social media goes beyond that.
Platforms like Facebook are filled with groups for people who share similar interests – possibly individuals who are in the same boat. Whether it’s groups of South Africans who regularly rally or a multitude of foreigners who meet every weekend, join them. It could well be that you will soon become part of a new circle of friends!
Although it may still be taboo for some people, you should consider downloading apps like Tinder if you are single. There is nothing sinister about searching for a partner when you are going to be alone in a country, and hopefully this will lead to new friendships.
Remember your roots
If your mother tongue is Afrikaans or another African language, you will soon start hankering to speak it. If you don’t meet a fellow speaker in your new environment, you may want to watch movies, listen to music and read books in your native language.
Get involved with the community
Whether you are lending a hand at a soup kitchen or helping to organise a street party, you will benefit from doing a good deed. When people realise that you really want to contribute to others’ well-being, they will take care of yours. And, of course, it is always delightful to do something out of the goodness of your heart.
Invite people to a braai
People like to try new things, and what could be better than to braai for the first time? If you are struggling to find braai accessories in your new surroundings, remember where there’s a will there’s a way. Once your guests have been bitten by the braai bug, it’s beyond the point of no return and your place will soon become the most popular place to hang out!
Don’t be afraid of vegetarians; give them a braaibroodjie.
Get a suitable hobby
Determine what activities are popular in your new community (for example photography or surfing) and see if you can join a club to get involved. The worst that can happen is that you may discover a new passion.
Do not isolate yourself
The whole point of moving to another country is to change your way of life and experience new things, so don’t stay home over weekends and get sad. Pack your bag and go on nice weekend outings. It can be anything – hiking and adrenaline-driven activities such as slackline or mountain biking, or even music festivals and sporting events.
Budget to see your people as much as possible
No matter how long you stay abroad, you’re still a full-blooded South African. Remember to save enough money so you can visit your people (or even let them visit you), and remember to take gifts that will portray your new country and culture.
This post is also available in: Afrikaans