A year ago, we left South Africa. One year ago, we got on a plane with 3 suitcases while 10 boxes were making their way to us on a slow boat. We had our essentials, leaving a country that was our home for about 10 years to make a new life in the States.
I’ve talked before about how moving is hard and making friends takes time. Whether you’ve lived somewhere for a long time or you’re new in an area, forging new social connections can be scary, complicated and totally daunting. I know a lot of you appreciated my advice on how to grow meaningful connections, so I thought I’d share a little about how I’m using social media to build real friendships. Like, actual burgeoning connections and stuff.
To be honest, before we left for the States, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Facebook. It was just so cluttered with crap, and most of my day to day friends weren’t on there much. I preferred twitter, and I still do, for news, silly interactions and fun quips. I was trying to get into Instagram, and it’s still something I’m trying to do more of, but it just feels like a serious time sink for me. It feels like you have to be on Instagram ALL THE TIME to actually see anything worthwhile. But my social media game changed a lot by moving.
I know we all talk about how time moves so quickly, especially when we have kids. This is still totally true, but moving has just highlighted this for me. Four months ago, we got to the States. Four months ago, we left our life in South Africa behind. So much has happened since moving to the States, I thought I’d at least try to pause and look back.
On the one hand, I keep talking about all the things I want to do, to buy, the ways I still need to settle in. And yet, in just four months, we’ve gotten all our American admin sorted and set up our home. Sure, I still need certain things around the house and I’m still getting used to it all, but at the core, we are up and running here in the States.
There’s this research that was done back in the 60s all about the amount of stress people go through with various life events. Holmes-Rahe is often mentioned, even by those who don’t know the details of it, to talk about how death, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, and birth can all be so stressful and life-altering that they put a serious toll on the person or people involved. I looked up the stress inventory, as it’s called, and moving or changing residence is towards the bottom of the list. Clearly, these researchers had no idea what they were talking about – starting over in a new country has been one of the most tumultuous things I’ve ever done.
It’s not just the physical moving that’s been difficult, although of course, that has as well. Moving day was a nightmare, one that was compounded by the fact that we were getting on a plane at the end of it. But it’s so, so much more than that. There was all the stress of leaving, the stress of getting things done when we arrived, and only now that we are slowly settling in am I finally unpacking it all – literally and figuratively.
This is a post that I’ve been working on for what seems like forever. I thought it would be fairly straightforward to write – I just needed to keep track of our expenses related to emigration, tally it all up and the post would write itself. I figured it would help other people looking to emigrate from South Africa to the US, or really from South Africa to anywhere or from anywhere to the US. It’s a whole lot harder than I anticipated, though.
First up, here is the easy bit. These are the various costs we had to pay before we got to the US and include our various consulate visits, as well as costs related to getting all the necessary documentation in place while in South Africa. It’s important to note that we were only able to file an i130 application because I was an American citizen living in South Africa – there are difficult rules in place if your circumstances are different.