Making a decision to emigrate is a big one. You essentially need to prepare to start all over again and your life takes a different course. In addition to all the big changes responsibility wise that come with moving from one country to another, there is so much “new” to adjust to in terms of environment, culture and lifestyle. It can vary between being bigger, easier, challenging or better than others. And I have also finally encountered my biggest adjustment so far.
When we first told friends and family we were emigrating to the UK, the first thing everyone always spoke about was the cold weather. Having visited England before, I knew how cold it would get, but I wasn’t put off at all. In fact, I met a couple from the UK once who told me there was no such thing as feeling freezing cold in the British winters but rather people not having and wearing the right clothes. I don’t completely agree with them but I can see their point. Adjusting to the cold hasn’t been bad at all given the ways to keep warm. And I simply love double glazing and central heating!
The exception though and my biggest adjustment challenge, is how early it gets dark in the afternoon – a result of the approaching winter and the clocks recently having gone back. It is getting lighter later in the morning, which is fine and is something I was used to in SA during the winter. However, the earlier darkness in the afternoon, not evening, I find incredibly disorientating. Doing the afternoon school run when it feels like it should be 09:00 or 10:00 at night is making adapting a little more challenging. Immediately after dinner, one feels as if you should be going to bed because it’s been dark for hours when in fact it’s only 19:30 and there is still so much to do in the evening. I remember from a Christmas holiday in England before that most of the day it was dark in the winter, but you aren’t in the thrust of the usual responsibilities of life outside holiday time. It is just so odd to be doing certain things you have never done before while it’s dark out. My husband and children are finding it equally strange and taking a while to adapt to what should be such a small thing. I have also never been really comfortable driving in the dark and would in SA try to avoid it as far as possible. Now because of the time of day, I cannot.
Overall, we are loving the culture and lifestyle. We find people incredibly friendly and unlike the weather, very warm. Shopping for groceries is one of my weekly pleasures as we can eat so much more extravagantly at home on the same and often smaller budget than we used to in SA. Going to eat out or even just a take away, like most other things, is incredibly costly. Halloween was an experience in itself. So many people here decorate their homes on the outside and trick or treating includes parents and even dogs in costume. And I have never seen so many pumpkins in my life! Then there is Guy Fawkes where bonfire night is a thing that spans across different venues and is not just reserved for the 5th of November. There are events a few days before and after. Tickets are sold mostly to attend such events and you get a choice of purchasing food from a variety of food stalls, enjoy music and watch a fireworks display mostly removed from homes to not affect animals. In Britain, a lot more should still be done to regulate fireworks in residential areas though. I do believe that the few people lighting fireworks in their back gardens should be more mindful of their neighbour’s pets.
So despite the huge adjustment to the darkness, I am very happy we made the move. I missed home for the first time watching the Rugby World Cup final. The win was so emotional and made me feel homesick for the first time. Seeing the images of celebration in SA and hearing from friends about the craziness on the streets in the traffic made me long to be back in SA. Admittedly, for now, the longing has passed. I look forward to Christmas because I love Christmas in the UK. I have always felt Christmas is most beautiful in the cold and dark weather. So much more impact with lights everywhere decked on a number of houses on every street. No mistaking the time of the year.
Essentially, life is what you make it no matter where you are. Whilst getting used to this darkness will take a while, we are enjoying adapting and just being in our new environment, embracing the culture and traditions and creating the lifestyle that suits us.
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Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being