Saturday, December 4, 2010

Getting personal: Thoughts and questions about the future!

The life of an expat is a strange one. You feel so lucky and excited at the opportunity you have been given to explore a new land whilst at the same time feeling a little bit adrift from everything. It is an odd sensation. You have friends and family back home that have carried on with their lives whilst you forge new relationships abroad.

Yet, somehow, you feel detached. Detached from reality and detached from your life back home. I am not sure if it tis he same for everyone or even if everyone experiences these odd emotions I am trying to convey. It is not homesickness, per say. Sure, there are things and people from home I have missed...and I find that I have a longing for Africa that I cant quite place but I am also totally happy in the life I am living now. Confusing, I know.

As your time in one place comes to an end you find yourself looking to the horizon and asking questions about the next step. Staying is not an option for us. We love Korea and the lifestyle but we are not getting younger and life choices and decisions need to be made. But where to from here?

I have been accepted to the University of Sussex in the UK, which is fantastic, but there is no way in hell I can pay to go there. While I wait to hear on a scholarship I have to think about other options. And I must say, volunteering somewhere is Africa is very very appealing to me. Oliver, also needs space to further explore his photographic abilities. He might go to Ghana for a few months to stay with dad and explore that beautiful country.

Yes, this might mean that Oliver and I may have to spend some time apart but I think that is OK. Not easy, but necessary. We have been dating for six years and we find ourselves at a weird juncture where we need to set certain cogs into motion to secure our independent futures but at the same time we need to think about our joint future. Hmmmm......

We are not ready for marriage and kids but as friends start to get engaged, married, and have children we are faced with the realisation that although we are not ready for these things now (or anytime in the near future) we need to decide on where we see ourselves going. And by that, I mean location.

You see, we love South Africa, it is our home with our closest friends and family, It has people that smile and are amazing. In terms on landscapes, it has everything the world has to offer but there is one big black spot on this otherwise perfect country, and that is crime.

Crime in SA is high and violent. You become accustomed to living with it: looking over your shoulder when you draw money, crawling up to traffic lights at night, not walking on the streets, being aware of yourself and where your belongings are but when you leave and you get a chance to live in a country like Korea where crime is virtually non-existant you get a taste of how life is really supposed to live.

I love walking around in the evenings. I love that I can step out of work, walk across the street to get some groceries and make a few stops by foot before going home. Walking is great...and I don't feel afraid...not even a little bit. I have let my guard down completely and it feels so so good. Yet the thought of South Africa not being mine and Oliver's final destination, the place where we settle, hurts.

Man-oh-man. This entry started out as me wanting to tell how trusting people are in Korea, how honesty is just a way of life and instead I have delved into a whole bunch of thoughts that have been wracking my brain since I realised that we need to start thinking about the next step.

I want a Masters, and I want a PhD and I want to get them in different countries that allow me learn from people from across the globe. And I want to do that so I can take these skills back to Africa, my home! Oliver on the other hand needs to focus his photography and make a name for himself.

Hmmm, so where to, where to from here? Do we stay abroad and chase our dreams but feel afloat from our lives in SA, do we pick somewhere else and say this is it, or do we just keep floating for a little until we figure it out (probably my favourite option at the moment).

I am not sure any of this made any sense and I know it is quite different from our standard posts but here it is in all its glory. I think it gives a little glimpse into the minds of people who are torn between home and the excitement of outward travel or maybe it is just showing the thoughts of a twenty-something not quite sure on what her next step in life should be...who knows?

Post by Claudia


Anonymous said...

Yes, I understand your dilemma. I live in Korea because the UK is basically a shit country. I don't know how it compares with SA, but British men are often aggressive and Neanderthal (Wayne Rooney, Vinny Jones and Gordon Ramsey, type people.) Interesting that the scummers I mention are all football players which as a nation we are obsessed with, might explain why many British men are repulsive.

Sussex is more upmarket and a haven for the gay population which means it is much more civilised.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

I just want to say comment on the previous comment. UK,like any country has it's bad points and of course different cities vary. Opinions are likely based on bad exeriences, but I love Britain and our history and culture.The generalisation that 'men are aggressive and Neanderthal' is absolutely ridiculous, im sure some are like anywhere else, but a huge generalisation. But living in the UK will be be a great experience and you'll meet lots of friendly people who are proud of our country and want to show it off.

Robert said...

It looks like Ollie and you, and me and Chrissie are in the same boat, Chrissie is longing to go home and study further, I am not sure of what I want to do, if I study further I will need a lot of money and I am not sure that is what I want to do, on the other hand I would need to get a job in order to sustain myself while Chrissie studies, but as you know trying to get a job in South Africa is like trying to find water in a desert. Why do we have to grow up and make decisions, I just wanna play!

Claudia and Oliver said...

I guess every country has its pros and cons and how we percieve them is uo to us.

@Rob....I guess you hit the nail on the head...this sensation of feeling adrift and not knowing what your next step should be could all be attributed to growing older and having to make decision...which often aren't easy.

I think when you pick the road less travelled (the life of an expat) you experience these weird emotions of not quite feeling attched, therefore the decions you need to make become a little more difficult. The travel bug!

Thanks so much for all your comments, it is good to hear other people's persepctives.

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