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South African Scorpio Moves to Sagittarius .
On the 27th of September I arrived bright eyed in London town. I had left my homeland in search of bigger and better opportunities. After the initial shock of the cold and darkness set in, I decided it was time to stop leeching off my boyfriend and find myself a job. I soon fell into the safe hands of Sagittarius. I was thrilled to be presented with this new opportunity, but definitely naïve in thinking the South African culture was the same as the British. I would just slot right in, I’m friendly and chatty, and so it would be fine, surely? After a short while of living and working in the UK I realised we actually had our differences:
No time for chitchat
We South Africans will find ANY excuse for a quick chat. It became obvious that my need to explain or describe things in great detail when asked a simple question was perceived as rather annoying. When asked “you alright?” didn’t actually mean: “you don’t look okay, what’s wrong? What I can do to help”? It simply meant, yes, I have greeted you and now we move on.
South Africa, the unknown
I was generally surprised how far the vast majority thought I had travelled to move to the UK and how few Brits had actually visited South Africa. In some situations I almost expected their next question to be: “Do you also live in a hut with lions?” Suddenly I realised I had lots of stories to share about my far away land, which secretly I quite liked, any chance to chat!
Goodbye Old life
My first instinct in my new workplace and life was to draw differences and parallels with everything in South Africa. I found myself annoying everyone around me by saying, “back at my job in South Africa …” and “that’s so funny, in South Africa we do it this way…” I had to learn to start doing things the British way or else risk giving away how homesick I actually was.
Be Polite, not direct
As a South African I found myself to be very direct in comparison to the British, I noticed a few of my comments and questions were met with wide eyes and dropped jaws. I was shocked by the general politeness of my fellow employees as well as clients. I’m used to clients screaming down the other end of the line demanding items that are clearly not achievable, but you know, as South Africans love a good argument.
Just as I was starting to wonder if I had made the right decision immigrating to what felt like the Antarctic, I was invited by Sagittarius to attend the 2017 Travolution Awards. Sagittarius was nominated for best website user experience and guess what, we won! At that moment I felt so proud for making the move and so happy that I work for such an innovative, driven company who strives to be the best that digital agencies have to offer.
Suddenly all the long days, no sunlight, living in a cheap area because that’s all my South African Rands could afford, seemed worthwhile. At the end of it all, I have to get used to all the little British things in order to make it here. Hopefully one day I will enjoy traditional pubs, public transport and be considered a “fellow Brit” without losing touch of my South African roots, of course.