Getting Started > Stay or Go?

A Change in Mindset

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I have notice over the past few years that there is a definate change in the mindset of the South African immigrant, irrespective of the country they are emigrating to. I know it's the same for all countries, but I am going to use NZ as an example because we can relate better than having to reference worldwide all the time.

In order for me to explain this change in mindset we have to look at the variables that have changed.

The immigrants of the 1980's and 90's who left SA were just plain sick and tired of all the nonsense and some frankly not prepared to live under a black president. Although the violence and crime was already starting to spiral out of control, SA was still by and large - for white SA'ns anyway, a peaceful place and very few of us had been touched by it. Most however knew somebody that had been affected by crime and violence. SA was also still a place where you had to abide by the rules or face the long arm of the law.

Those were the days with no Internet and no support base in their new country, they were literally blazing the trail for the flood that would follow - (us) ;D

These ex-pats had it really hard as the guys back in SA accused them of being traitors and sellouts while their host countries still had this image in their minds that every single white Saffer is a heartless, murdering racist. An image built up through years of bollocks and semi-truths fed to them by the media. These guys had to fight their way in here because they were not really welcomed with open arms because of this image and the Kiwis frankly didn't believe the horror stories they told. You could almost say they were dumped at the airport and left to fend for themselves. That is why I suspect the Kiwis see SA'n immigrants as arrogant, it comes from that need to elbow your way in or you aren't going to get anywhere. They really had to adapt or die trying here. There were no soft landings in those days.

Nowadays however, things are vastly different. We have all had the huge advantage of surfing the internet and sites like this one to find out from the guys who left before us what things are like in NZ. We have had the opportunity to plan and ponder and chop and change our minds on silly things like where to stay. We have been able to "visit" shops like Countdown and Foodtown to plan our budgets, visit sites like Trademe and Seek to get an idea of how much we can expect to earn, heck we even get to listen to Kiwi radio stations online before we arrive here.

Most of us had friends we could stay at when we arrived or at worst had accommodation booked well in advance. In fact we have all actually suffered from information overload, that is how "soft" our landings have been lately.

We however have come from a much more violent and crime ridden SA than the SA the immigrants from the 80's and 90's had left behind. I would even go as far as saying that at least 90% of us have a direct family member who has been affected by the crime and violence going on in SA at least once. SA today is a lot more gung-ho now, you can break many laws, like speeding or paying off a police officer and nobody bats an eyelid.

To sum up the differences between the "early" immigrants and the "now" immigrants :

Early - The ration between feeling we "want to leave" and we "have to leave" was 80/20
          They had to ekke out an existance in a "foreign" land, that was very difficult and they
          knew it was going to be.
          They came in drips and drabs and were few and far between.
          They HAD to become Kiwis because there was no SA support base.

Now -  The ratio between feeling we "want to leave" and we "have to leave" is now 20/80
          We know what is waiting for us down to the last detail and we don't expect it to be that
          hard because of the support base we have built up and the research we have done
          There are bucket loads of us here now, you can't go anywhere without hearing Afrikaans or
          a SA'n English accent.
          You can now live here for the rest of your life and only have ex-Saffer friends and only
          speak English when you have to. The urgency to integrate has dissappeared.

It is these fundimental differences that has changed the immigrant mindset of today and the perception of Saffer expats in general.

You see despite the fact that we all tell each other that immigration is difficult, we don't believe it and often don't experience it. We come too well prepared. How can you possibly lose the "battle" when you have studied every last detail of your "enemy" and made every last plan of attack long before the "battle" commences?

We have welcoming parties of friends and family waiting for us at the airport when we arrive. We have brother and sisters to stay at until we find our own place. They chauffeur us around looking for cars and houses, they show us the shops, tell us what to buy and not to buy, and tonight we have a lekker braai with real boerewors bought at Foodtown or Mad Butcher. It's so refreshing not contending with those stupid "car guards" and beggars at every robot anymore. It's lekker that everybody drives properly without stressing and you wanting to kill the guys that push in in front of you on your way to work anymore. This is the way things should be. It's just like Joburg at the sea.

POOF, just like that all the things that irritated us from SA are now gone and we have instantly forgotten why we left. I think everybody that has been here for a few months or more will agree that they have all had this sudden eureka moment where you suddenly realise that somethings missing - all the things you hated about SA are gone and you never really realised how calm you are. It usually happens when you are driving in the car for some odd reason.  ;D

Then reality starts setting in, Countdown in Albany Mega Centre is not the Pick and Pay at the East Rand Mall. Work is not so easy to find and when we do find work it's not a manager job like we had in SA and worst of all we need to clean our own houses. Not "real" brick houses, matchboxes mind you. Real brandy costs a fortune and you can't get those lekker cheap cigarettes that were smuggled into SA from Zim at the Cafe anymore. You have to drive to the speed limit because the car behind could be a cop and the next Saffer meet up is only next month.

The point I am making is that because we come here so well prepared, we expect things to be easy, when we land when they are not. We expect things to be the same when they are not. We also have an added emotional baggage that the early guys didn't have and that is the knowledge that we can't go back even if we wanted to. They still had that safety blanket keeping them reassured while they settled in. Non of those guys called themselves refugees. More and more we are considering ourselves as refugees now. I know I consider myself to be a "willing refugee".

All this combined is making us frustrated emotionally, especially when things don't work out as planned. The problem is to the Kiwis this behaviour appears aggressive and it probably is given how agressive we have all become in SA. So now the Kiwis are starting to view us arrogant AND aggressive and that is not a good thing. Amongst ourselves we are also more highly strung than before because of the urgency required to emigrate that exists at the moment.

We need to realise these differences.
We need to work on our emotional baggage that we are lugging around so that we can get rid of it before we destroy our image entirely.
We need work hard to turn around this growing perception of us.
We need to realise that when we arrive here we are seen as just another immigrant from a foreign country, so we need to work harder than the next guy to get back to where we were in SA.
We need to be greatful every day that the Kiwis have given us the opportunity to come here and live in peace and safety.

Wow Nolan !!   :twothumbs: :twothumbs:  :not_worthy: :not_worthy:

If we (saners) try to remain grateful and privileged to be granted an opportunity to make a new life in NZ, life will be so much easier for the ones that follow. We are not there yet and the negative perceptions of saners in NZ can make it very difficult for us to make a successful move.  :'(

For all of you in NZ , I only have one thing to say........ you do not know what you have and try to remember that there are many people in SA that wish that they were in your shoes O0 

Thanks, Nolan :clap:

Mongrel Mobster:
Food for thought Nolan, Thank you. Excellent post!

Schalk, I sincerely hope that you will still stay with us and not leave.
Greetings from me :wave:


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