I’m Homesick!

Something I have never wanted to do whilst I am here in South Africa, is make it out like my life is easy and I am having absolutely no problems whatsoever. I mean, overall, life is great and I am really loving what I am doing here. But, there are days when I feel a deep longing inside myself for home comforts.

Earlier in the year, I wrote a blog post about having wobbles about coming to South Africa, which you can read here. I spoke about how I was going to have a big adjustment which I was not sure I would be able to cope with. I would be without my family for the first time, and I would have to depend on God like never before. So, I decided that after three months of living in South Africa, I would make a decision as to whether I wanted to stay or go home. If I really couldn’t deal with being away from home, I would just get on a plane. So, as I am nearing the three month mark, I thought I would let you all know the thoughts going round in my head. (No, I am not leaving South Africa.)

First thing’s first – I seriously miss my family and friends. Never did I think that heartache was real, probably because I had never experienced such a thing. But now that I am 6,000 miles away from them, I understand whole heartedly what it means. My heart longs to see them, to be with them and to share the good and bad times with them. I am struggling to put into words just how much I miss them. But when I think about moving back into the same house as my parents, I realise just how much I don’t want to do that! Not that my love for them is less, more that I have become independent and to move back into that house would make me feel like I am regressing. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think it is important for me to mention here that I am craving home comforts. Whilst I have been here, I think I have tried to avoid doing things that remind me of home because it would make me sad or because I thought that separating myself from that would make it easier in the long run. Unfortunately, that does the exact opposite of what I thought it would do. I have been breaking inside because I have not done things that help to make me feel at home and I have placed a negative connotation on them. So, having a cuppa and watching Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring really helped to make me feel at home. 

fellowship9

What I am trying to say, in telling you this, is that I have really been struggling with homesickness, particularly over the last couple of weeks. But, as much as I would love to get on the next plane and go home, I can’t bring myself to do it. 

There is a reason that God has asked me to come to South Africa and serve Him and His Church for a year. And there are a few Bible verses that have really helped me over the last week to see the good in a situation that feels the opposite:

  • “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold…- may result in praise” (1 Peter 1:6-7). 
  • “God… comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
  • “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
  • “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19: 29)

Yes, it hurts. Homesickness is never nice. But, already, I can see that my dependance on God has grown profusely and I am becoming the woman that I want to be, passionately striving after God’s call for my life and the plans He has for me.

10 Ways To Spot A Brit Abroad

I know that I have been in South Africa for a few months now, but it is still easy to tell that I am not in my native country. It is quite clear that I am British. Now, I reckon that there are things that identify me as British and these things can make it quite easy to spot a Brit abroad. So, to help you be able to spot a Brit in the crowd, here are 10 ways to spot a Brit abroad:

  1. Sunburn.
    Okay. So there are some Brits that can tan nicely and look wonderful when they are abroad. But when I say some, I literally mean about 10% of the population (not quite accurate). Pretty much all other Brits will burn like there is no tomorrow. For example, I was out in the sun yesterday morning for about an hour, with suncream on, before anyone suggests otherwise, and my nose turned red. Like, it is literally glowing. No matter how hard we try, us Brits will burn and will look absolutely ridiculous. Considering that we are only just going in to Spring here though, imagine how much suncream I will need on when it gets to summer! So, if you see a sunburnt person in a country that is not the UK, the likelihood is, they will be a Brit.
    red-nose
  2. Queues.
    Even when there doesn’t need to be a queue, we will find a way to make one. I have noticed that here in South Africa, hoards tend to work better than queues. But if there is a Brit in the room, you can be sure that they will get in a queue and will be really angry if someone gets to the front by pushing in. Yet, they won’t vocalise this. They will stand there, silently fuming and plotting your death in 20 different ways whilst slowly turning a very bright shade of red.

  3. Tea.
    You only need to ask for a cup of tea twice in the space of an hour and you will be asked if you have British relations, no matter where you are in the world. And it is true; I have not discovered a country that drinks as much tea as the UK and uses it as a calming technique. So, if you come across someone drinking tea somewhere, they could be – probably are – British.

    tea

  4. Punctuality.
    African culture doesn’t really mind if you’re late. In fact, most people are late so it doesn’t really bother anyone. However, the thought of being even a second late strikes fear into the heart of the majority of the British population. If we are being honest here, being 10 minutes early is worryingly close to being late. So, moving to a country that does things at it’s own speed has meant that I have had to adapt to my surroundings. I have never struggled more with something as much as when I had to purposefully make myself late for things…

  5. Photos.
    Brits have a habit of documenting every little thing when they go abroad. I mean, you could say that I am carrying on the trend by having my own blog. But, and there is a very big but here, a true Brit will take a photo of literally anything and make up a story to go behind it so they have this awesome anecdote to share when they go back home. It can get extreme. If you see someone taking a picture of a railing at the beach, they are most likely a Brit trying to get an arty shot so that they don’t just show their friends a picture of sand when they get home.

    IMG_1372

  6. Accents.
    A Brit abroad becomes the master of all accents. I am not lying. They believe that they have the ability to ‘pick up’ an accent if they are around the people long enough, and trust me, are they good at it! (Please note: sarcasm.)

    mm
    Watch Michael McIntyre’s sketch on accents here.
  7. Water Temperature.
    Us Brits have a weird fascination with water temperature and find it a very interesting conversation starter. It will go something like this (imagine I have dropped all the t’s):
    “Dave, are you gettin’ in?”
    “I dunno mate. Seems a bit cold to me.” (Dips big toe in the water only to confirm worst suspicions.)
    “Mate, I think I am just going to have to brave it.” (Proceeds to edge ones-self into the water making increasingly loud noises, particularly when it gets to the waist.)
    “I’m just gonna have to go for it actually. I’ve just gotta swim!” (Screams as fully emerces self in water and swims a length of the pool.)
    “D’ya know what Dave? It’s better once you’re in!”

  8. Words.
    To the rest of the world, us Brits use a weird version of the English language apparently. When we say tea, for example, not only could we be referring to the lovely beverage. Oh, no! We could also be referring to the last meal of the day, otherwise known as dinner or supper. I know. We even confuse ourselves!

  9. Food.
    Brits are home birds at heart. So, the thought of eating a cuisine that is not native to the UK actually scares some of them. Of course, there will be a few who will dive right in and eat every bit of local food as they possibly can. But there will always be one craving baked beans on toast. Either that or they will have found a place that serves fish and chis and will dine there every night until they return home.

    fish-and-chips

  10.  Patriotism.
    But we have to save the most obvious one until last; you will know there is a Brit abroad if you see the Union Jack on their person. I don’t know what it is about going abroad but it definitely makes a Brit feel so much prouder of the country they are from. When they are in the UK, all they can do is complain how rubbish it is and how much they wish they were someone else in the world. But when abroad, if someone says something rude about it, there will be one heck of a commotion… Seriously. Us Brits can get very defensive of our little country.

    photo-on-21-09-2016-at-15-04-2

The Problem With The West…

After moving to South Africa, it has amazed me to see just how much we take for granted in the UK. In Western culture, it is so easy to see that we expect all of our wishes to be made into reality in the blink of an eye; but life just doesn’t work like that. It pains me to say it, but I have realised just how selfish the Western culture is and how much I personally took for granted whilst living in the UK.

  1. Freebies!
    In the UK, we are so lucky to be able to have free healthcare and education. And I know that this is something that EVERYBODY goes on about when we say that we have so much in the UK, but seriously, it is such a blessing! Here in South Africa, both have to be paid for and it is not cheap; it is actually really expensive just to send your kids to school, let alone have enough Medical Aid to be able to cover the cost if someone falls ill and needs medical attention. So to have the British government go on about taking away the NHS is ridiculous! We are so lucky to be able to access what we can so to take it away would just push the UK further and further into poverty, away from what the country is striving for. It is something we really take for granted if you live in the UK.

    nhs

  2. Safety.
    I wouldn’t really think about going for a walk on my own here in South Africa, just because I would be at risk of being mugged, or worse. Yet, in the UK, we can quite easily go for a walk all afternoon on our own and we would be perfectly safe. It is so easy to take this for granted in the UK because we just think, “well, why can’t I go out on my own?!” But there is just a higher level of safety over in the UK, which means it makes it easier for us to do things by ourselves. Again, this is something that you have to be much more concerned about here in South Africa.

    IMG_0600
    I can go for a walk on my own… Even in London!
  3. Wifi speed.
    Yes, there is a very good wifi connection here in South Africa and you can also get a good 3G signal. However, if a technology nerd came from somewhere like the UK or the USA to South Africa, then there would be havoc. It would be way too slow of a connection for them to be able to even function. So, although a fairly trivial thing, as some may think, the wifi speed is definitely something that we can quite easily take for granted in the UK.

    wifi

  4. Free weekends.
    If you are really into your sport here, which most people are, then you will often find yourself at school at the weekend because you will have sports games to play, or even training to do. Yes, school on a Saturday is not unheard of at all. And even if you don’t play a sport, you will still, most likely, go and watch the games being played; obviously you have to be in your school uniform too! So, there is often something you will have to do at the weekend here; it isn’t really free. This is something completely different to the UK, particularly when thinking about the attitude there would be surrounding it.

    school-sport
    This game was played on a recent Saturday… not even a school day!

So, although there may be some fairy godmother granting all of the wishes of those in the West, there is a huge difference between that and somewhere like South Africa. We take so much for granted in the UK. This blog post is not me saying that I am the perfect person because I don’t take anything like this for granted, because I know that whilst living in the UK, I did. And, if I am being completely honest, if I move back to the UK, I will probably fall into the trap of taking it all for granted once again. But after living in South Africa for a time, it is easier to recognise how selfish the Western culture can be and it makes me aspire to help people see how much we have as a country. I love the UK, and I love South Africa. Both countries have different qualities that make it the place it is. But, the selfish attitude of the West makes me think that there is something that needs to change. So, I don’t want to be the person who takes everything for granted anymore. Needless to say that my eyes have been opened to see the things that really matter in the world, rather than a slow internet connection. 

Cultural Differences

One thing I get asked a lot as a UK citizen living in South Africa is, how is SA different to the UK? And if I am being completely honest, as I aim to be all the time, there are loads of differences and moving to a different country definitely involves a serious culture shock. So, I thought I would write down some of the key differences I have noticed, having lived here for 8 weeks now! Just a quick disclaimer though: I have a habit of noticing really weird differences or finding the small things amusing… And I know I won’t be able to cover all of the differences as there are just too many to write in one blog post!

  1. Weather.
    In regards to cultural differences, this is the question that I get asked the most: how are you coping with the heat? I can confirm that South Africa is a lot hotter than the UK and it does rain a lot less here. However, I really like the heat (don’t quote me on that when it gets to summer) and at the moment I am coping perfectly thank you! But as well as the heat, you South Africans also have another weather condition that is largely different to the UK. Thunder storms. For anyone that is scared of them in the UK (including past me), they are not very bad. In fact, the sound levels are miniscule. Here in South Africa, I have never been so scared in my life! There was a storm here last night which made Chloe and I scream it was so loud. The only thing I can think to compare it to, noise wise, would be my brother playing drums without his hearing aid in added to him trying to learn the saxophone and strumming power chords on his electric guitar. Although I don’t think that is loud enough even!lightning_0
  2. People. 
    People are interesting creatures. Some are friendlier than others and some get annoyed more than others. I have to say that British people are not particularly friendly, in a sense that you get looked at like you are a nutter if you talk to someone in the street or in a queue at the shop if you don’t know them. Obviously, you can have a full conversation with a complete stranger in a shop queue here. I like that! It is much more inviting than the steely glare of the British public. As well as this, British people like keeping themselves to themselves. South Africans are the complete opposite. You can know their entire life story pretty quickly if you are in the right place at the right time! Also, I have never hugged people more than I have in the last couple of months. It is definitely a much friendlier greeting than the Great British handshake.supermarket-queue
  3. Food.
    Yes, it is much tastier in South Africa than it is in the UK. However, I am inclined to say that this is because they don’t have the same restrictions on E-numbers as we do in the UK. Everything is a lot sweeter and looks brighter in colour. Also, meat is just 100% more tasty here than back in the UK. I think I am going to struggle readjusting to this when I go back. Not only this, but anything can be cooked on a braai – from garlic bread to chips, from beautiful T-bone steaks to flipping massive fish (pun certainly intended). I love it.img_1044
  4. Vocabulary.
    I will never be able to call trousers ‘pants’. It makes me cry with laughter whenever people talk about liking someone else’s pants because all I can think of is someone complimenting the others’ underwear! 
    Moreover, phrases that I use all the time are incomprehensible to people here in SA. For example, “that’s a good shout!” In the UK, this means, “that’s a good idea!” When I said it to Chloe, all she replied with was, “I’m not shouting!” Oh dear… 

  5. Sports.
    I could go into the whole sport being pretty much a religion here and going to school on a Saturday in your school uniform to support a team playing a sport you have no idea of the rules for. As I said, I could go into this whole difference. I could also go into how a bigger variety of sports are shown on the TV here. But, I have to make the observation everyone else across the globe are wanting to make but are to ashamed to say. Luckily, I have no shame in admitting that South African sportsmen are potentially the most attractive people I have ever seen! Sorry Mum!U/19 International Series: SA Schools v England U/18

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are too many differences to go into now and I do believe that 5 is more than enough to start off with. I have to end however, with acknowledging the fact that moving from the UK to SA is a massive culture shock and the whole way of life is different here. I could start going into politics but then I might even bore myself (something quite hard to do!) so I will spare all of you from that rant. But the culture shock is a very welcome one and it has helped me to understand just how incredible both countries are, in their own unique ways.