Out and About is a column where we talk to people who currently live abroad, or who have previously lived and worked abroad. This week we chat to Luzanne Fletcher who lives in Scarborough.
- Where in South Africa are you from and why did you decide to go live abroad?
I was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Krugersdorp on the West Rand. After I completed my studies at the Northwest University, I worked as a photographer on P&O Cruises Australia’s cruise ships in Australia for a year. This was my first experience of living abroad and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Apart from Australia I also had the opportunity to visit among others New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Singapore. It was also on one of these passenger ships that I met a handsome Englishman.
After my time on the ships I returned to South Africa and worked in the media industry. After a long-distance relationship of two years with my Englishman, we tied the knot in South Africa and I have been in Scarborough – a small town on the northeastern coast of England – full time since December 2017.
- Was it a big adjustment?
Yes and no. The fact that I went to Australia at 23, and quite alone, already taught me a lot about being self-reliant and definitely prepared me for the big move to England. It is extremely hard to leave family behind but fortunately I knew that my husband was waiting at the other end at Heathrow.
- Tell us more about your family?
My immediate family consists of my Englishman William and me. We live in an apartment that is a five-minute walk from the ocean. We both work in Scarborough: He is a human resource manager and I work in marketing and design. Over weekends we enjoy the English countryside and spend a lot of time in or on the ocean.
- Do you still speak Afrikaans?
Certainly. In the past two years Will learnt so much Afrikaans. My mother bought him a bilingual children’s dictionary (Afrikaans-English) and he speaks better Afrikaans than most English South Africans. He also loves Afrikaans music; especially Bok van Blerk and Snotkop, as it is easy to understand and contains many general Afrikaans words.
- How often does your family see each other?
My parents and sister also moved to England recently, but still live a five-hour drive away from us. We try to meet up once a month. We try to see other family, such as grandmothers and grandfathers, at least once a year. Either they come to visit here, or we go to South Africa to visit.
- There are quite a few South Africans in England. Do you sometimes meet up?
I have not encountered one other South African in Scarborough. However, there is a family in a town an hour’s drive away who sells biltong, so we regularly have contact with them.
- Strangest thing to get used to?
English eating habits. The people are not accustomed to salt, pepper, pan-fried onions or garlic, which are the base of my family’s recipes. The other thing that gets to me, is the dark. In the winter it is as dark as pitch at 16:00, but it is only time then to walk to the shop or run to the beach. Over Christmas people shop until midnight and it is quite normal to see people walking in the streets with their dogs in the early hours of the morning. In South Africa I always tried to not drive around in the evening and definitely did not walk around in the dark. Here it is quite different.
- You also have your own travel blog. Tell us more?
My biggest passions in life are travelling, telling stories and photography. My blog allows me to blend all these together. I like to write about the interesting places I visit, to share reviews on top restaurants and give tips on what to do and where to do it. I always try to publish decent photos along with the facts and I hope that what I experience and pen down would inspire someone else to also visit a place or at least enjoy it through my eyes.
- What do you like most about your life there?
It sounds like a cliché, but the safety. I can go for a walk in the pitch-black dead of night and I don’t look over my shoulder the entire time. In the summer we leave our windows open the entire day and nothing disappears. Our work laptops remain in the car over weekends, because no one with long fingers tries to take it. Yes, I know there is also crime here – it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, if you look for trouble you will find it – but here in the English countryside it is different. I don’t have to be scared in my own home.
The other thing is all the travel opportunities. We can drive to Scotland for a day or hop on the train to Paris for the weekend and the entire Europe is just a short, cheap flight away.
- How do living expenses compare to that of South Africa?
Biltong is expensive. So are houses. But apart from that, I don’t feel much of a difference. My monthly expenses are more than it was in South Africa, but so is my income. So it feels pretty much the same.
- What is the one thing no one told you about emigration?
How extremely difficult the visa paperwork is, how expensive it is and how extremely disturbing the entire process is. After William and I were married and enjoyed our honeymoon, he went back to England and I had to stay behind in South Africa to apply for my visa. Just to get all the paperwork together was a nightmare and since we didn’t make use of an agency, it was a very stressful thing. The process cost almost R50 000 in total and I had to wait for an answer on my application for more than three months. Fortunately I got it the first time around, but I know of many people who had to try two or three times.
Feel free to visit Luzanne’s blog here: http://luzannefletcher.com/
This post is also available in: Afrikaans