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by Patti McCarthy
 

As many native English speakers have discovered on moving to Australia, a shared language does not mean a shared culture.

Many South Africans, Americans and Britons who migrate to Australia expect to settle in quickly and easily and will have been unpleasantly surprised by just how difficult it was to feel at home here. For South Africans particularly, coming from a country where the climate, lifestyle and even landscape are very similar, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect that Australia will just be a safer version of ‘back home'.

Part of the problem arises from those very expectations, as we mistakenly assume that when the language is the same as our own, the core cultural values of that country will also be the same. Anyone who was not an English speaker would expect life to be difficult and would manage their expectations accordingly. They would be prepared to spend time watching and listening in order to learn how things are done here.

English speakers tend to assume they already know it all and are surprised when it's not that straightforward. Although you speak the same language, however, somehow what you are saying often gets misconstrued and your jokes fall a bit flat. What was acceptably direct at home may be regarded here as arrogant, a readiness to take control may be seen as being pushy and gradually you realise that it's actually not the same at all.

Struggling to find their place here, many South Africans often choose to network with other South Africans and so have earned a reputation for being clique-y. This is however precisely the best strategy for your happiness and that's what matters most. For while on the surface Australians are open and friendly, it can take a while for them to actually move beyond superficial pleasantries.

They live for long periods in the suburbs they were born in and already have many old friends and are not actively recruiting new ones, so you can and should take the pressure off yourself by joining an expat support group which will be full of people looking for friends.

Finally, don't take the knock backs too personally, it really isn't all about you! Change your mindset and view Australia as a foreign country for a while, in order to truly observe what's going on and don't make any assumptions. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut, don't join in the game until you understand the rules – and you'll be right mate!

Patti McCarthy is a life coach and NLP practitioner who offers an expatriate coaching support service.

For more information go to www.believeyoucan.com.au/relocation. Look out for her articles about core Australian cultural values in future issues of Sabona.

 
 
 
Posted in social |
Posted by Patti McCarthy
20 Aug 2009



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Live and be happy. Wherever you choose to be, be happy. It does take time to adjust and negative people just make it worse, ignore them, embrace life and BE HAPPY!
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Emily on 13 Nov 2009

 
Emily, i am totallyagainst apartheid, but do you think they are doing a better job? In my opinion no one has done a good job yet...i await this day but will not hold my breath.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Emily on 13 Nov 2009

 
I am firm believer that there is an implied obligation when moving countries to fit in to your new country without being ashamed of your roots. I moved to Australia in 2001 and joined the local AFL team which was a learning curve and the guys warmed up to me after a few weeks of teasing their novelty overseas player. I also joined the defence force as a reservist which has been an interesting experience in itself! Sabona is great and I love being part of it but its really important to get out there and meet to locals.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Kevin on 13 Nov 2009

 
I am firm believer that there is an implied obligation when moving countries to fit in to your new country without being ashamed of your roots. I moved to Australia in 2001 and joined the local AFL team which was a learning curve and the guys warmed up to me after a few weeks of teasing their novelty overseas player. I also joined the defence force as a reservist which has been an interesting experience in itself! Sabona is great and I love being part of it but its really important to get out there and meet to locals.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Kevin on 13 Nov 2009

 
I must say, I also take exception to Glens comments. If you like it here or the UK or whatever, no problem. But when you carry your (3 decade) old prejudices with you, it is a bit annoying. SA is moving forward, and fast. Maybe the people running the show are the wrong colour for you, but they are doing a MUCH better job than the last lot!
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Jens on 05 Nov 2009

 
Still living in SA and I suppose I am the least qualified to comment on moving to and living in another country. My interest in articles with this theme comes from the fact that my wife and me are starting with the visa application process to join both our children in Perth. Although we have visited the children a number of times, the question whether old trees can be transplanted succesfully, pops up every now and then. Moving to Australia permanently is very different to visiting for a 6 or 8 week period! One positive though, we already have a permanent support base waiting for us.
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Barry Richter on 04 Nov 2009

 
Hi folks. I migrated here in 1970. In those years being from South Africa was not popular, mainly because of the apartheid system. We also did not have a network system like you have today. There was no S.A Club, or Springbok foods. No rugby or cricket tours. It was a novelty to meet other South Africans. But guess what? We survived and made many lasting friendships. We found that the Aussies will gladly embrace newcomers as long as we are willing to accept this country as our own. I still miss my family and friends that I left behind all those years ago, but thankfully I have made many good friends over here. I have been a best man at many a wedding, godfather at numerous christenings and performed numerous other tasks only bestowed on close friends. I thank god every day for the lifestyle that I and my family have over here. It may not be a perfect crimefree existence, but it makes any life we may have had in South Africa pale in comparison. My children have a future here second to none and we have a government system that at the very least provides for the aged and ill which is found sadly wanting in S.A. When friends visit from overseas, they are reluctant to make comment on our facilities and general lifestyle. It is as if they are in a state of denial, or maybe just plain jealousy. So to all those unhappy South Africans out there, unless you shed your attitudes and materialistic nature,then you will never be at home here. If they paved the streets in gold over there, I still would not return. God Bless Australia.
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Glenn Hercules on 03 Nov 2009

 
Glen - what is this 'materialistic' nature that only us South Africans have? And what attitudes? You have been away from SA for a long time, so maybe we can forgive YOUR attitude...my family and friends in SA have a brilliant lifestyle and way of life. When they have visited here, they have been impressed by some things, but certainly not this 'state of denial' you talk about. Aus is good, and has almost all the 'basics' right, but dont come with this anti-SA tirade. Millions in SA now have access to govt welfare, supporting the poorest of the poor. There are massive improvements to rail and road, airport and other infrastructure. Tourism is still booming there. In short, there is a lot of good news in SA. You like it here, fine - millions, including me, still love SA and are proud of what they have achieved.
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Rachel on 03 Nov 2009

 
Hey Janet, you know what...a lot of Saffers dont feel at 'home' here, and some never will! And thats ok. Some go home, and thats ok too. Some people leave SA for very real reasons, others are influenced by all the hype and bad news (real or imagined). Anyway, after 4 years on the Gold Coast, I am about to head home. I cant wait. And I am not wearing rose coloured glasses - I have just been honest with myself, finally, about where my heart is...
Rating: 2 / 5
 
by Dean on 02 Nov 2009

 
uhru, where are you mate
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Karooseun on 17 Oct 2009

 
Hi All, I have been in Oz (Darwin) for just over 10 years now (emmigrated from Randpark Ridge) and I sincerely hope that what I am about to say I don't upset anyone. Australia is not South Africa, and the sooner you accept this the better. When you were in Sth Africa can you remember when an ex Zim or Brit or other Nationality kept saying "Back Home" or "When we ..." you thought to yourself - go back there then??? This is the same thought process for some Australians. Australians are by far the most supportive, friendly and fun people I have ever had the privilege to be around. They have given me and my family a "fair go", but it's because I have mucked in and tried to fit in right from the start. Nobody is asking you to forget your roots, and yes, emmigrating to a foreign country is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life, but embrace it, and your fellow Australians will accept you for who you are. Just remember not to be a "When we ...". Take care, and all the very best to all new immigrants, it does get easier, I PROMISE, and before you know it, you'll be referring to Australia as "home" :-)
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Alicia on 12 Oct 2009

 
There is an Irish oke that was on a South African web by the name of "uhru"...., who belonged to a website,that was on the internet,but I assume, that due to its racist crap has been dumped.So uhru if you happen to read this please get in touch with Karooseun here on this website.....Karooseun
Rating: 4 / 5
 
by Karooseun on 03 Oct 2009

 
Dear Janet, rest assured it takes many expatriates 2 or 3 years to feel at home here, but seeing yourself as a 'newcomer' is a lot more positive than seeing yourself an an 'outsider'. You are only an 'outsider' if you feel excluded or prevented from joining in - is that the case? If it's just that you don't really know the ropes yet, then take advantage of your newness, ask for help and enjoy the process of discovering all there is to know about your new home. When tempted to look back at SA through rose tinted glasses, remind yourself of all the reasons you left and try to focus on the future not the past. Kind regards, Patti
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Patti McCarthy on 24 Aug 2009

 
Hi Patti My family and i have been in Aus for 18months now. My question is, does one ever move beyond feeling like an outsider? What is the time period for moving beyond this feeling and should you quit if you're not able to move on?
Rating: 5 / 5
 
by Janet Dalton on 22 Aug 2009

 
 
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