Fortitude. This is the most important characteristic one needs when becoming an immigrant. It’s that special resolve you develop to survive, to make distances between those you love feel closer, and to find joy… writes LAUREN BRADLEY, South African expat in the UK.
It’s also, in my view, an outlook on life. You can see misery or you can see beauty.
Many (not all) migrants compare the life they left to the life they now live, this is a (somewhat) natural human trait… but calling this place – the United Kingdom – the mud isle, dismal, grey, depressing – I disagree.
There is a wonderful beauty here too and we get to experience this landscape in all four seasons. Just look outside, you can stand under the same dramatic sky and in the same weather that inspired The Greats like Turner, Constable and Gainsborough (to name but just a few) – is that not a lovely thing to think about?
I took the photo above to remind me of these things.
I grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, moved to the UK in 2003. I’ve left South Africa several times in my life – as a youngster, a teenager and again as an adult. Not all of it was by choice either. Everywhere I’ve lived and visited; I’ve bumped into or sat quietly listening to Saffas having a chat somewhere about something.
From my experiences as an ex-pat (although I struggle with this term – the first time I left I was a minor so you don’t get much say about it)… however I would say that once you leave your country of origin, you can’t ever fully return.
The last memory you have of life at home becomes a snapshot in time. In reality that moment you remember moves on and changes while you’re away.
Home will never be what you left behind and you’re never fully the same when you return either. Your jagged edges don’t fit together anymore, despite feeling really familiar.
That’s not a bad thing either. It’s a big old world out there to enjoy…