Tuesday, March 09, 2010
If I were allowed to move, to England that is, I’ve become particularly and astutely aware of what will terrify me and what I’d love about the place. If I get to go there, I want to be prepared; rose-coloured shades are pants.
I’m terrified at the prospect of being torn from a comfort zone, but also desperately yearning for the challenge of a new place.
Here’s my list. If I ever get there, it’ll be interesting to see if any of my predictions are right.
This said, I never said immigrating would be easy. Adapting takes months, if not years.
I’ve spent enough time on Blighty over the last two years to make estimated decisions on what to expect. I fly to London on Friday for two weeks again. For a lot of hard work.
Things Guaranteed To Piss Me Off At Some Time Or Another (In descending order of annoyance):
1) The darkness.
The cold, the grey, the rain = all irritating. But bearable. British Winters are notoriously shite. The fact that in winter it gets dark – not twilight dark, midnight inky black dark – at 2pm, is going to be rough to deal with.
In December I made a pub announcement in the office at 3pm because I thought it was 7pm. My colleagues there may think I’m a functioning alcoholic, but really, the truth is that I thought it was almost bed time. Fuck.
2) Tubes during rush hour.
Won’t be able to sing long loudly to myself like I do in my car; in my own bubble. People don’t look at each other on trains, nevermind talk. So singing out loud will be considered Freak O’ Nature. Sharing armpit space with sweaty chavs and/or bankers will take some adapting to. Also lugging my Sainsbury's groceries bags around, up stairs, escalators, platforms, standing with them.
3) Wind with rain.
The horizontal rain that hits you at 90 degrees in your face, and your brolly has turned inside out, and you’re far away from home and a hot shower. That might be a bit miserable.
4) Living with someone again.
I’ve got very used to my own space over the last 2 years. I come home and my little castle is as exactly as I left it. No rotting dishes, total control of the remote, walking around naked, my own toilet. This will take adapting to – because in London, you can’t afford to live on your own unless you’re farking coining it.
5) Dare I say it….Rugby jersey-wearing South Africans in London.
The types who braai in the rain, visit the Puzzle/Walkabout/White Horse/Slut & Legless and talk constantly about how great home is, while waving a flag about.
The Top 5 Things That I’d Love About London
1) It’s London.
One of the world’s great cities, with mounds of cultural and fun shit to do, amazing architecture, general grandness, high streets, The Queen. Red buses. Selfridges. Parks, pints, curries, cobbles.
2) The crisp air.
No seriously, for some reason, my skin glows in cold climates. The place is also prepared for cold climates. Indoor heating, 8000 types of coats to choose from at Top Shop, cozy pubs.
3) The feeling that I’m a small fish in a big pond.
I feel like I know everyone in Johannesburg. Not that it’s bad, but I wouldn’t mind starting a new chapter, finding some new interesting friends, being anonymous, and being normal. Normal in that at almost 30, I’m not married or expecting childbirth. In London it’s normal to be like that. Thank God.
4) The Brits.
Unless I’m attacked – verbally or otherwise – by a chav, I tend to find them fucking amusing. Chavs aside even, I love the Brits. Their humour, their cheery yet very dry and plain-talking approach to life, their eccentricities. Their lingo. I find many of them wildly eccentric, not to mention extremely funny.
5) Nothing is really far away.
On a general scale, it’s a small island. And Europe is a hop, skip jump away. Did I mention that I have a two year Schengen visa? And that I cried tears of joy when it was handed to me? It’s meant to BE. I can go to….Sweden. And, and, Estonia. Or ‘Hey guys, let’s go to…Latvia for the weekend.’ Generally, getting around is not a problem. What with all that fantastic public transport.
Things I Won’t Miss About Home
1) The expense and time I spend on weddings. Other people’s.
I’m a sucker for love, and I am honoured to be involved in their joy. In their commitment. I just don’t feel like I fit in with all the change going on around me; mainly because I don’t.
Hiace, Toyota brand of death. I don’t think I need to elaborate. Or else I’ll get road rage just typing this.
3) Scared every time a guy walks up to my car.
Similarly, beggars on every corner. Like everyone, I’m tired of being paranoidly aware, on edge and feeling guilty and shit every time I stop at a robot. Being scared of crime in general.
4) General incompetence.
This is generalised – but Home Affairs, people printing fake passports and therefore fucking up our chances to get visas overseas, that slow sort of approach and uncaring attitude in any service industry. That said, I have to expect it’s probably like this in all bureaucratic offices across the globe. Right?
5) Feeling bored with surroundings.
I am. I don’t even bother to explore or date anymore. Haven’t in years. Hugely unbalanced. I see it as work, the concept itself is exhausting. So taht's mostly what I do: work. That’s not really living, is it.
Things I Will Miss About Home
1) Sun and reasonable daylight hours.
See ‘Darkness’ in first London list. Will invest in a Vitamin D lamp like people in Seattle use, and possibly sleep under it. I fear seasonal depression.
2) My family and friends.
Of course I’ll miss them terribly. And hope I get to see them at least once a year.
Yes, even if there are Saffa shops there, I won’t make an out-of-the-way trip to go and buy biltong. Dad used to send me biltong when I lived in France. Maybe I’ll get him to send packages this time too.
4) The Rand/our cost of living versus London cost of living.
I’ll be spending half my salary on rent, for a place half the size of what I have now. And will have to share with someone else. I’ll miss the space we have here. Besides the rent, I’ll also be paying for council tax, indoor heating and public transport. It’s not cheap.
5) The friendliness of South Africans.
We are a very friendly, open nation, in general. I find we’re more rambunctious than Brits on the odd occasion. (I’m not including football fans after 8000 pints at a Man U/Arsenal match in this benchmark). Saffas are sunny people, at least in sunny countries.