Sunday, 19 January 2014

Day 1096 of Captivity....Life as an Expat

On January 19th 2011 I stepped off a plane at OR Tambo airport with my husband, my 2 boys aged 11 and 15 and 9 suitcases, an Xbox, 3 laptops, stereo and a ton of cables split amongst our hand luggage.

It was our first visit to South Africa.

So much has gone on in the last 3 years.

Last week I returned to OR Tambo airport, with 3 cases, an Xbox, 2 laptops and a ton of cables split between the hand luggage, except this time I wasn't flying, I was there to say goodbye to the boys as they returned to live in the UK. The youngest returning to boarding school where he's been since August 2013 and the eldest to join the armed forces.

I've learnt so much, had amazing experiences, experienced a different culture, travelled to places I'd never even dreamed of, acquired a cat and a dog, made some fantastic friends, had endless visitors to spend quality time with and some amazing (voluntary) work opportunities. 

Apart from my husband, a dog and a cat, our entire family is in the UK. 5 kids, 2 mums, 1 dad, 2 sisters and a wide selection of nephews, nieces and 2 great nephews.

So probably time we went back then, but I'm more scared now of moving than I am of staying here so far away.

It has been a long and a hard journey. 

It has changed me. I lost my identity, for the first time I found myself without friends, without a support network.

I no longer had the junior playground to stand in to meet people. I no longer had a job in which I could network. I had no one who knew how things worked, no one who understood what I was going through ,but I was determined to make a go of it.

Now I don't want to go home. I'm not sure where home is any more. The family are spread out around the UK, from Bath to Leeds. I'm scared to start over again, to make new friends, to find new work opportunities, to leave this wonderful and beautiful country. 

I arrived in South Africa full of anticipation, I expected nothing and knew even less. I'm comfortable now, I know how things work, I understand the culture. I love this place. I don't think I ever want to leave, despite the painful distance between me and my family.

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