My First Month in South Africa
I can’t believe I landed here already a month ago. From Russia, where I spent a month with my family, from a hot Northern summer straight to a chilly Southern winter.
When I was leaving Russia, green forests and the gentle setting sun were waving me goodbye. It was as hard as always to say goodbye to my parents; mom was crying and so was I, dad was smiling, but I could see the sadness deep in his eyes. I often ask myself, “Why am I not a normal girl, living close to her family? Why did I choose such a life where I often have to say goodbye?” But then again, every “Goodbye” leads me to a new “Hello”.
Here I was, flying over the African skies, seeing how the green of Russia changed into yellow and orange of the African desert. I had a layover in Doha, Qatar. I really liked their airport, nice lounges where I could have a yummy breakfast with Arabic sweets and take a nice hot shower to wake me up as it’s already been a long flight from my hometown to Moscow with a few hour long layover and then to Doha.
Finally this second layover came to an end, I wasn’t able to sleep but that shower helped me feel like a human, not a zombie.
I was standing in line to get on the bus that would take us to the plane. The morning sun was so big and red, the whole scenery was telling me I was far from home. It was so beautiful and so different.
The bus ride was quite short, all this time I was chatting to my parents and my boyfriend over Viber; it made me feel more like home, more loved and less alone.
My last flight and I’ll see my love. I was so excited, so happy and so sad at the same time because the closer I was to my man, the further I was from my family.
I had a good flight, Qatar Airways are definitely among my favorite airlines so far. Their food was good and the seats were comfortable. I was able to take a few naps here and there and finally they announced that we were landing.
This is my second time in South Africa, and I remember when I came here a year and a half ago I was so surprised. I expected to see desert, huts, wild life just walking around, but Johannesburg was similar to any other Western city. That time it was all green because it was summer, but this time I saw more yellow shades. My flight was delayed a bit but it wasn’t too bad. I got out of the plane, waited for my baggage, someone helped me to put it on the cart and as I was leaving, I was stopped by an officer. His dog smelled something in my bag and I had to give them my favorite Russian apples. I was able to sneak a couple of them though.
Here I was, walking toward my new life in another hemisphere. Who would’ve thought I’d do it again, 7 years after moving to the States?
Konrad was there, waiting for me. We ran into each others arms and I felt like home again. I let my parents know I arrived safe and sound and Konrad took me to his parents place. It was so nice seeing them again. I’m truly blessed to have known such wonderful people and to have a chance to call them my South African Family.
And so my South African life began. We stayed at Konrad’s parents’ house for the first couple of days while we were assembling our first bed. Slowly but surely we started moving it. It’s a great experience to have your own place, but it’s challenging as well, because now you are responsible for everything at your new place.
A few things I’ve learnt about South Africans so far:
1. They are super nice, friendly and welcoming;
2. They always try to help;
3. They love to braai (barbeque) and eat a lot of meat. I think I’ve been to like 15 braais (including the ones at our place) since I came here;
4. They love eating out with friends;
5. They love spending time with friends.
I am lucky to meet such wonderful people and be included into their culture.
During this month:
1. I continued learning Afrikaans. The language seems easy, the grammar and the sentence structure, but their pronunciation is different from what’s written, that’s why it’s difficult for me to pick up what they are saying. It’s easier at this point to read and translate.
2. I started driving on the other side. It’s so weird for me, every time we make a turn, I want to go into the opposite lane. It was easier though when I drove an automatic car. I started to learn the manual now and sure drive like a grannie at this point.
3. I noticed most of the houses here have tile floor. It’s so different from what I’m used to, but I’m sure when it gets warmer I’ll be happy to walk on the tile floor. At this point I wear my warm socks and slippers.
4. Another thing about the houses is taps. There is a tap for hot water and another one next to it for cold water. Many houses have mixer taps, but many have separate ones. At our place, for instance, all taps are separate, but I’ve learnt to mix water to the nice temperature by pouring some cold water first into my palms, and they adding some hot water. I’m a pro now.
5. A lot of people start their own businesses and prefer to work for themselves, not for someone else. I love it! Gotta come up with an idea of what I’d want to do now.
Well, that’s about it for now. I must just say that South Africa is a beautiful country with wonderful people and I am happy I live here now. Just can’t wait till it gets warm and we will start going outdoors more.