The joys of migrating!

The joys of migrating! | Tyranny of Pink

If you came here to read about how fun migrating is, you will be severely disappointed.

It.

Is.

Not.

Fun!

Holy hell, I knew it would be tough but I had no idea about exactly what that would mean.

Life itself is simple...it's just not easy. ― Steve Maraboli Click To Tweet

We decided in April this year to move across the world and after doing A LOT of research, including seeing a migration agent, we decided that New Zealand was the absolute right fit for us. It happened to fit a lot of our requirements but a big one was that the place we moved to had to be English-speaking because I truly and honestly suck at languages and I knew it would be hard for me starting over without having to learn a whole new language… seriously, 11 years of French at school and I still can’t speak the language.

So the language thing limited where we could go and then lifestyle and quality of life was REALLY high up on our list of places we want to live and New Zealand just ticked all the right boxes!

So right, once we knew WHERE we wanted to go we had to figure out HOW and that was the easy part. One of the boxes that we needed to tick on our list of where to go was that it had to offer a decent PhD programme for my husband who is a lifetime academic and wanted to take the next step in his academic career… the great doctorate. New Zealand just so happened to already be on our radar because YEARS ago he had seen a course at a university in New Zealand that fit into his idea of where he wanted to go with his research so that worked out well.

On top of that, we needed to go somewhere that my career was a real possibility. Unfortunately in South Africa, someone who works in my field (Social Development) isn’t really that appreciated which is kinda ironic since my whole field is about the eradication of poverty and inequality. Anyhow, it just so happened that New Zealand is really big on community development and people with my experience and qualifications are on the skills list AND the migration agent thought that I had a pretty high chance of finding a job within three months.

A couple of years back, before I had Oden, I was unhappy in my job and needed a change and I job hunted for MONTHS and couldn’t get a foot in the door. Eventually I got an interview at an NGO closer to home and I got that job which turned out to not be that suited for me anyway and I left to pursue my own interests. So, a career is HUGELY important to me and hopefully that will be a possibility there.

“Follow your dreams. I am not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying it’s going to be worth it. – Moffat Machingura”
― Moffat Machingura

Paperwork is one hell of a huge thing

There are a million things I was super worried about – for example, I needed my birth certificate and since I was born in Swaziland, that seemed like something that would be IMPOSSIBLE to get my hands on. Luckily it turns out that as a South African citizen I am entitled to a birth certificate and so I’m currently waiting for that to be ready for collection. YAY!

I also needed a new passport and so did Oden. That was actually a pretty pleasant experience. In and out of Home Affairs in an hour, passports were ready a week later and took SIX minutes to pick them up when they were ready. I wasn’t expecting such a swift experience at Home Affairs.

The cost of moving

Migrating anywhere is definitely not cheap. I am WELL aware of how fortunate and privileged we are to be able to do so at all. It is costing a fortune. I have also said I’d never re-home or leave my dogs behind and I can see why people do when they leave. It’s really not cheap to take pets and we have FOUR but they are a part of our family and even though many well-meaning people have suggested leaving them behind, that’s just not an option for us. Instead we will cut costs elsewhere. Like on how much of our home content we take over with us. We are being quite ruthless about what we do and don’t take with.

Which means selling and getting rid of what we can’t take

WHEW!! Another exhausting process. I have literally had to go through every single item in my home and decide how much I love it and how much value it brings to me. The good thing about that is that I sorted through a HUGE pile of clothing that no longer fits me or makes me happy and I sold a lot of it and made some money to buy clothing to go with that actually fits me and I can wear instead of just look at in my closet.

Acceptance

I think though, that by far the hardest part of choosing to emigrate has been deciding to leave behind everyone we know and love and move to a country where we don’t know anyone at all. We will be completely alone in a new place, just three of us. We will basically be walking blindly into our new lives and it truly terrifies me.

However, I try to remind myself that I did this when I was just about to turn 19. I moved from, Swaziland, the country I had lived in my whole life and started over in South Africa, by myself. And if I could do it then, as a child, I can do it now with my best friend at my side.

It definitely won’t be easy saying goodbye to some of the most incredible friends I’ve ever had, to the family I’ve joined and to the family I was born in and not know when we will see anyone again. It’s a huge sacrifice and not one we take lightly either.

It hasn’t been easy telling people that we are going to leave. We have been dealing with a lot of emotional black mail and guilt tripping but in the long run, we get that it comes from a place of love. They don’t want us to go, but sadly, we are all going to have to learn to adapt. Thankfully Skype makes the distance slightly smaller.

And you know what, to those that keep asking us what if it doesn’t work out, well then, it doesn’t… but that’s sure not reason enough to not even try!

Anyway this isn’t all-inclusive about the adventure that is our life at the moment but this is just a small peak into what’s going on in our migration life (because that’s literally the only life we have at the moment).

Have you moved? Would you do it again? Any regrets or advice?

I’d love to hear about your experience!

In the meantime, I’ll be drinking all the wine trying to deal with the stress of moving!

xx

 

 

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11 Discussion to this post

  1. Kirstin says:

    I love this. The legwork of moving is so often under appreciated. I have moved continents many times, both as a child and as an adult. As an adult I have done it more than once as a single and as a parent. Getting there is exhausting!

    I would count on 3 years to adjust. Sometimes it’s 2 but often it is at some point in that third year when you suddenly realise you are “home.” Often it takes going back for a holiday (which I find takes about 2 or 3 years to fund) for one to suddenly realise they have made a new home.

    4 things I try to keep in mind each time I move:

    1) how long it takes to make friends is directly related to how much effort I put in to meeting and hanging out with people. And how willing I am to let down my guard. Volunteer, invite people over, talk to strangers, ask for help. This can be really tough on kids. Not always but expect them to need more of you.

    2) What you left behind stops existing the moment you leave. Not that you don’t have friendships that last forever, but if you go back after just 6months you will find that nothing has changed but things have moved on. That piece of you you left behind won’t be there. It was left not just in a place but in a time. It is a memory. That’s ok. It’s not that one can’t go back, but just that there should be a realistic view of what “going back” means.

    3) Weird things are different. Figuring out how to put in petrol in the car by yourself or what shops sell what types of things and what brands you like and how much things cost. Falling asleep without burglar bars or alarms. What “bring a plate” means and whether it is polite to ask people to bring food when you are inviting them. Over the years your comparisons become less and less accurate because SA will change without you knowing it.

    4) There are some places that just don’t ever have the feeling of home. After being where we are now for the last 7 years (with only one 6 month break) and on and off before then I have realised that it will probably never be home. It just doesn’t capture my heart. Admitting this has allowed my husband and I to think about our plans going forward with both of our desires considered.

    I hope this helps. Or at least doesn’t scare you. Moving countries is amazing. It is hard, but it is so worth it. Best of luck!

    • Wow Kirstin, thank you for this incredibly helpful comment. For some reason, it landed up in my spam folder and luckily for once I actually looked through spam before pressing delete all! I am honestly grateful for these tips. You are really brave to have done it as a single parent – honestly, I don’t know how you managed. It is SO scary even with a partner besides me so well done to you! I am so looking forward to that feeling of finally being at home again. I kinda already feel like I’ve checked out here and my life in South Africa is simply waiting out the time till I get to leave. I think it will help a lot that our son will grow up there from such a young age. I suspect that will help us feel like we belong as he settles into the only life he will know really.

      I get what you say about leaving your life behind. I still have really close friends back home in Swaziland but when I visit, I am always the outsider and I am never really truly one of them anymore because our lives are just on such different paths.

      I am already nervous about the whole putting in petrol thing but I suppose that will in the end be the least scary part of uprooting my entire life. I’m glad we are taking our animals as they will help us feel at home and more settled on that end.

      In the end, it’s the life we see for our son’s future and the scary hard parts of it all will be worth it in the long run I imagine. Trying to stay focussed on the goal of moving. Thank you so much for your comment. It really has been helpful!
      xxx

      • Kirstin says:

        Oh I didn’t mean I did it as a single parent! I did it as a single adult and again a couple of times as a parent (with a partner). I agree it would be daunting to think of doing something so massive without another adult by your side.

        The petrol thing is pretty easy actually. Just ask someone to show you the first time if you aren’t sure. Play the foreigner card. Always ask. It will save so much time and effort in the long run.

        I have been in the same boat of having a young kid (3 months old) in a new country with a husband studying his PhD. Definitely one of the hardest and best times in my life thus far.

        I’m glad I could be of help. I would love to move to New Zealand!

  2. ChevsLife says:

    GOOD LUCK!! Sounds like you have a mountain to climb over before you can breathe with ease again. I moved a few times, but only the recent one actually required action from my side, and that was two blocks away and took had a day – even though I though 2 hours mad would be more than sufficient! Keep us posted with your progress and so happy to hear that you are taking your WHOLE family, not just the human kind 😊

    • Thanks so much Chev! I feel like I’m going to need ALL the luck in the world. It was pretty stressful moving from Milnerton to Table View so I’m not gonna lie, I’m bloody terrified. Did we need to choose a country SO far from everything hehe. Lol, I guess I’m going to need a lot of 2hours hey! I could never leave my fur kids. They drive me up the wall but I love them to death. My poor husband, I’ve always told him I love my dog more than him (it’s not true but shhhh don’t tell). xoxo

  3. Heather says:

    Wow you are moving! Good luck and all the best! Hope it all goes well and you get the right job for you at the other end.

  4. This is moving along so fast! All the best and please keep posting updates.

  5. Zoe says:

    *biggest hugs*
    Yes to so much of this!! You know I’m in the same club, and have done this before a couple times. The biggest advice I can give once you move is to remember that it takes two years. Two years to build a social network again. Might be easier/faster with a husband and child in tow, But still simply takes time to meet someone, connect, become friends, meet more people, connect, and eventually have a circle of friends you can rely on.
    Oh, and sometimes just remembering that you CAN always come back makes you remember/feel like you don’t have to. 😛

    • Thanks Zoe! I’m not going to lie, it really helps me so much to know that we are going through this together and that you know how it feels. I read that it takes two years to settle in so It’s nice to get the actual lived experience on it being true. Two years is a very very long time I think but at the same time it passes by so quickly! Glad I have you to hold my hand through this 😛

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