sandCat in South Africa
Being an ex-expat

Well it’s 5 and a half weeks since I left Dubai and moved to Knysna. Our container arrived last week and was cleared and unpacked in Port Elizabeth yesterday (great news) but unfortunately as we have not found a long-term, unfurnished, pet-friendly house to move in to (with a secure garden for the cats and generally secure for us) we have to leave everything in storage for the time being (not so great news).

The fact that we haven’t secured a “home”, and that we are living with someone else’s furniture at the moment, has left me feeling a little lost and unsettled this week. Stu has also been away on business and so I have been alone, and for the first time in a very long time, I have felt lonely. It’s not normally something I experience as I am very content with my own company, happy to work or read a book, and when that became boring whilst in Dubai or previously Johannesburg, I always had good friends I could spend time with when I was in need of human contact. But being in a new city (again) means I don’t have that to fall back on.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Even though I have moved back to my home country, I am not back in my home town. And this has left me feeling like an expat all over again, although technically I am not one. I am home. The weird thing is that after 6 years of being away from family and SA friends I now forget that I am back in the same country and therefore can just pick up the phone and call them. I go for days without realising that my mom and dad are now on the end of a local phone-call. But I am at the same time aware that my more recent friends are now international, and so I can’t really call them either. Luckily we signed up to the Director’s Club here – an executive workspace environment with hot desks and internet – and other people – without which I would probably go days without speaking to anyone other than the cats (haha) or Stu when he is here. I think it’s the same for my family as they forget they can call me also – my mom admitting this the other day when she rang “just to say hi”, which was so lovely.

Ok, well in case you think I am feeling a bit too sorry for myself (yes I am a teeny tiny bit) I will say that I am very happy here on the Garden Route. I am hoping Knysna will end up being the place we settle, but if we can’t find a home here we will start to look further afield. I am grateful for the beautiful scenery that surrounds me daily, and I know the cats are enjoying having a garden again. I am trusting in the process and that we will end up where we are meant to be, even if it is with gritted teeth sometimes. In the meantime, thank goodness for TV and Whatsapp.

A very good friend of mine, who has been an expat for many years and moved cities and countries many times, gave me this very wise piece of advice today. She said, “start frequenting coffee shops so they get to know you. Join some sort of club – there must be something that strikes your fancy. It takes time for people to warm up to a stranger. You just need to keep showing up!”. I hope that helps you if you are in the same predicament. For me I think joining Knysna crossfit, and maybe doing some french classes, will have the desired result.

Enjoy your National Women’s Day ladies. Chat soon.

*featured image: one of the lovely views on Thesen Islands

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Originally from Johannesburg I have returned to South Africa, specifically the Western Cape, after living in Dubai for 6 years. Looking forward to mountain-biking, new food experiences and enjoying the great outdoors. I hope you enjoy my musings.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi there! I’ve just come across your blog via a Dubai expat website recommending you. I am in the process of researching the Dubai lifestyle changes & adaptations I may need to make upon relocating there. If I get accepted for the Emirates crew, that is:) I would really appreciate any advice you might have on living there, especially out of a woman’s point of view. As I am also a born & bred SA girl, I can’t wait to hear your feedback! Best wishes, Anine

  • My darling, welcome home! Remember we are only a phone call away, bit longer by road!! But a lot closer by thoughts. Looking forward to seeing you again, hopefully soon! Mum xxxxx

  • Hang in there girl, you’ll be fine. It is going to take a while but you’ll see, sometime or other it will all come together.
    It always does, just be patient.