This blog post is an attempt to give a glimpse of what's in store for an expat family the first few weeks after their arrival in South Africa, from Babbalas to Yebo, from enrolling the kids in school to going on the first safari, from watching weaver birds build nests in the yard to watching them tear them apart, from learning what robots are to learning what to do when they're broken, and more.
If you like the Victorian era, a visit at Lindfield House Museum in Johannesburg's Auckland Park neighborhood is a must. There you get to meet the legendary Katharine Love who not only owns the house but also lives in it and doubles as museum curator, tour guide, and cook. Let her take you back in time to another era, and then savor the present with heavenly scones during afternoon tea.
When I recently got introduced to Hannah Pirnie, another long-time expat in Johannesburg who herself is a great resource for newbie expats with her Translating Me service, we came up with the idea of starting a Webinar series for people who have questions about moving to South Africa. I'm excited to announce our kick-off event with the topic "5 Mistakes To Avoid Your First Month in South Africa."
Finding a group to join is a big deal for many newly arrived expats, especially those with young children who won't easily meet people through school. Translating Me helps you make friends from around the world, provides valuable resources to you, connects you with interesting volunteer opportunities, and gives you many options to explore your new surroundings.
When you become an expat and are sent overseas, your first three questions to your employer might be: How much will I be paid, which currency will that be in, and how do I get the money to where I need it? When you get paid in your home country and have to make the transfers yourself, you should research the best option. A small difference in fees can turn into a big number.
Have you read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson? The idea was to build schools in Afghanistan, but the story was about more than building schools. That's how it has been for our group of expats supporting Alexandra Baseball. It's about giving young people opportunities to build self-esteem and teamwork and make something of themselves in an environment where few such opportunities exist.
We had moved from the U.S. to Johannesburg earlier that year. After the initial frenzy of buying a car, securing the elusive Traffic Register Number for foreigners, and getting the Internet connected, I was ready to tackle the American mother's oh so important task: finding new sports teams for my kids. This is how I stumbled upon Alexandra Baseball. The rest, as they say, is history.
My favorite time to walk over the leafy campus of Dainfern College was recess. There would be hundreds of kids milling about, with no teacher to be seen. No one seemed to care whether the kids used the time to eat their lunch or not. Boys would be running around barefoot, their uniforms disheveled, kicking soccer balls that would frequently hit unsuspecting bystanders.
There is a lot of confusion around the topic of a South African driver's license for expats. Do you need one at all? Does it depend on your type of visa? if you do convert your foreign license to a South African one, will you have to take another road test? We've collected reader comments and information from various websites to give you some answers.
Rietvlei Nature Reserve is located right next to Pretoria within easy reach for anyone living in Gauteng. It's lake is a popular windsurfing spot, something you normally wouldn't think of doing on the Highveld. It's also a popular bird watcher's destination, and it has a lion enclosure. It may not live up to the big South African game reserves but makes for a nice day trip.