Birds of a Feather or Soort Soek Soort!
Maria Venter – South Africans to Oz
As thrilling as it is starting a new life in a new country (I’ve personally done it 4 times so far….call me crazy!), it’s always nice to hear a familiar accent from the Motherland!
And believe me you hear them a lot here in Aus! Whether it’s on the train or shopping for shoes, no matter where I’ve been in this super-sized country I’ve run into ex Saffers…even in the strangest of places!
If striking up a conversation in the shops is not your style, there are more organised networking options that may sound more appealing to you.
There is a Facebook page called ‘South Africans living in Australia’ with about 8000 followers. This social media site provides us with an opportunity to read about and comment on recent news events in SA or just share some grappies only South Africans would ‘get’ !
Where I live on the Central Coast in NSW, there’s a group for SA ladies to connect with called the ‘Central Coast Koeksisters’.
Being ex South Africans themselves, and knowing how tough it can be when you first arrive, these lovely ladies regularly organise gatherings to help you network and make some friends.
I quote from their Facebook page: “Open to all South African ladies living on the Central Coast, NSW. Come and join us for coffee, chats and family get togethers!”
There are quite a lot of shops catering to South African tastes popping up in many neighbourhoods around the country.
These offer all the traditional SA products you might be missing: Mrs Balls Chutney, Peppermint Crisps, Ouma’s rusks, Braai Salt, Mielie Meel, Cream Soda, SA dop etc etc.
Some shops even have their own butcher in store creating all our favourite boerewors and biltong! A few have coffee shops attached so we can sit down and catch up over a lekker koppie koffie and melktert!
I have visited the Stanley Street Butchery in St Ives, Sydney, and African Vibe Gourmet Foods in Balgowlah on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. There are shops in most major cities around the country.
As these shops are gaining popularity and receiving more trade from the expat locals, so too are the prices for these products coming down. Even our local Woolworths supermarket now has a shelf specifically for a few South African products.
This has to be the easiest and most popular way to access your favourite SA products when you’re in need of a taste of home! There are many to choose from and they deliver right to your doorstep anywhere in Aus!
On the Australia Expat Forums where South African birds of a feather flock together, you can get competent answers to all your expat-related questions: how to find a babysitter fluent in your mother tongue, where to get bobotie in Canberra, etc.
About InterNations – a birds of a feather site
I have just discovered a fantastic site called “InterNations”. It’s a platform from where to meet or get advice from other South Africans living in Aus. They claim that their network is the best place to meet expats from South Africa.
The InterNations Places database for Australia has information on the nearest South African embassy and many other institutions.
Additionally, InterNations hosts regular expat events and activities in Australia. From glitzy evening events to simple coffee dates or how about a sharing a trip to Uluru with some fellow Saffer expats?
I quote from their website: “Our meet-ups and activities offer many wonderful opportunities to mingle with expatriates (birds of a feather) hailing from South Africa and dozens of other countries in a casual setting.
Just sign up for your InterNations membership and you’ll soon hear a cordial Siya namkela nonke, welkom, isibingelelo from our South Africans living in Australia!”
And I’m pleased to note that the basic membership is free of charge, with the option of paying for an upgrade if you so choose, so you have nothing to lose!
Integrate with the Aussies
Now don’t get me wrong, as fun as it is getting connected with your bru’s and bra’s from SA, it is also very important to integrate into the Aussie lifestyle. Try to make some Aussie friends as soon as possible.
But I feel that this is an important topic to share with you as it is so important to remember who you are and where you’ve come from. It’s only possible to do that with other Saffers.
Being away from family and those close to you, can make you feel somewhat vulnerable. When you meet someone who has been through the exact same hardships as you have it’s easy to make an instant solid connection with them and in time, a friendship that will last a lifetime.
Aussies are great but they really don’t want to hear you moping about ‘home’ all the time…this is the new ‘home’ you’ve chosen and their attitude is to get stuck in and make the most of it.
And in the most part they are right, but having a few expats in your friendship circle just makes it that little bit easier!
It’s normal for ‘birds of a feather’ to flock together.
Aussie Citizenship ceremony
I’ll end off with the message that was given to us at our Aussie Citizenship ceremony a few years back, which I felt was very heart warming.
Our Australian Citizenship Pledge went as follows:
“From this time forward, I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.”
After reading this our local Mayor congratulated us on becoming official Aussies, but reminded us to please NOT forget where we have come from and continue to celebrate our heritage, as there are so many cultures and races that makes Australia the place it is today.
It was one of the proudest days of my life!