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!
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!
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.