Moving abroad is not for the weak, that’s something I can say with certainty.
Just over a year ago, my husband and I sat down and together, made the decision to pack up our lives and move across the world. The criteria was straight forward. We wanted to live in one of those countries where people hardly ever lock the doors.
Okay okay it wasn’t as simplified as that but how many stories I’ve heard about people who sleep with their doors unlocked…I doubt I will ever be completely comfortable with that. I’m way too South African at heart. But I do have to admit that it’s already getting easier to put those kinda things out of my mind. We knew that we needed to move to a country where our son wasn’t constantly having to look over his shoulders and make sure no one was following him.
There were other things that mattered too.
Language was a huge factor in our choice. I am really really bad at languages and so I couldn’t live in a country where I would have to learn another language. That left only a handful of options and Canada, well Canadian winters are just not for me. After looking at a few countries, we agreed that New Zealand offers our family everything we need and so it seemed like the most logical choice. Now that we are here, I am so keen to learn the Māori language (te reo). I feel that in order to really belong here, we need to embrace the culture of the people and learning the language would be a start.
Although my husband is Dutch and Europe would have certainly been easier to walk into than New Zealand but that could not be our deciding factor. We wanted a country that ticked all our boxes.
South Africa let me down
What I could never have predicted however was that South Africa would be the reason our entire move is delayed. An error made by Home Affairs in my passport, that seemed impossible to rectify was the only thing holding us back from getting on a plane and starting our new life. It took a YEAR to fix. It took me a YEAR to get a valid passport.
It’s a bit of a sore spot to be honest.
The New Zealand authorities were so patient with me and it made me really eager to embrace my new life. Being here has really shown me that things can and do function and not everything has to be stressful. One of the things that people most commonly say to me is that they could never live without the excitement and drama that South Africa brings and I can 100% say that living without that drama has been life changing to me.
New Zealand may seem so vanilla from afar.
It may seem like nothing ever happens over here and you can make all the jokes about sheep that you want to but it’s nothing but exciting to us. We are really living to the best of our abilities. We don’t have the most money and many things in this new life are still being paid for in Rand which of course makes it VERY expensive but we do so much here that we couldn’t do at home.
Best of all is that I’ve lost so much weight from our new active lifestyle. We go for a walk through the forest/mountain/park/botanical garden every single weekend and we absolutely love all that life here brings us. It’s definitely NOT vanilla.
And that brings me to the point of this post
If you find yourself walking down this same path, if you find yourself moving across the world, make sure you remember your why! I can not emphasise more how important it is to remind yourself on a daily basis WHY you are moving when things get tough. Because they will, that I can promise you.
I can also promise you that things WILL get easier but before they do, you will question your choices, your decisions and every little part of your journey you will wonder what the hell you are doing.
No matter where you decide to go to, no matter what you do or who you are, there are going to be struggles in your journey. Of course your struggles won’t necessarily look like my struggles but they will exist and they will make you question your decision and doubt yourself and half way through, you may even find yourself wondering if this was all a big mistake and if it’s time to throw in the towel. It isn’t, don’t give up if this is your dream.
but when life gives you lemons… You drink tequila! (or lemonade if you’re so inclined)
Over the course of the last year, I found myself repeatedly questioning this decision and the only thing that kept me going, or sane for that matter is the fact that the grass may not be greener on the other side but I’m not giving up until I know for certain.
Four months (how even?) in and I can tell you that it was ALL worth it. This life of ours is everything we hoped it would be. Things have been so worth it and although there are still many struggles that we are faced with, we look out our window and we remember that what we came here for, a safer life, is what we’ve got. This life is EVERYTHING I wanted and dreamed of. We took a huge chance and it paid off big time.
Still, my heart breaks for my country.
I know people think I have no right to talk about what is going on at “home” but you can’t just take my country out my heart even though now, my heart may beat to a different drum. I am sad for how awful things are over there and how many people are still dying and being murdered and the level of corruption but I am over here telling people that it’s not JUST what you see in the news and it’s certainly still not white genocide going on. South Africa is such a wonderful place and it is definitely somewhere worth loving and hopefully, one day, it will find peace again.
However, I can’t live with one foot in the past – in order to live, I need to be present. And right now, my present is here. My life is here. My WHY is here. I love this new life of mine but I will never let go of my South African roots for they are me and because of them, I stand tall.
But this, this is home now!