Friday, 19 April 2013

24.03.2013 We arrived! What are we doing here?

Almost exactly one year after my husband applied for a new editor job at Bloomberg in South Africa, we finally arrived to start our new life in Johannesburg.

When you are an expat people always like to ask you why you decided to up sticks and start anew abroad. Well for us it was a combination of needing to escape the chaotic Russian life (and the brutal Russian winters) after many years and seeking new opportunities in other exciting emerging markets where English is the official language and the sun shines a lot.

Getting drunk after picking up the visas in London - finally!
It took us so long to finally move largely because the South African visa system is very complicated (and I'm saying that knowing the Russian system, which expats constantly moan about). It takes a long time to get a work permit approved here (if you get it approved at all). My husband left his old job in June 2012 and took the summer off before starting at Bloomberg in October. In the meantime we prepared to apply for the visa in Moscow and track down an insane amount of documents. By January 2013 our initial visa application had finally been rejected by the Moscow Embassy and I’d left my job at In Your Pocket guides. So we huddled down in Edinburgh, Scotland while my husband worked out of the office there and we reapplied for the visa in London.

Suddenly in mid-March our visas had been approved, our belongings had been shipped off and we were on the next (business class - niiice) flight to OR Tambo.

Alright, I know I look like a total dork here, but it was really fun being in the business class. Seat goes up, seat goes down. Seat goes up...endless entertainment. Also cold beers in a real glass, nice touch
Now we are here, there’s a lot to get used to. For me it’s mostly strange not knowing my way around. Having spent years writing about tourism, entertainment and leisure in Moscow and St. Petersburg I had a street knowledge far better than the average taxi driver. Now I am back at square one and really struggling with the inner distance calculator, not to mention the street names and areas. Joburg is a sprawling city, and much of it is devoid of major landmarks to keep you on your way. Public transport is tricky (more on that later) and of course half the time I don’t really know exactly where I want to go anyway.

Another incredible sunset from the balcony
The easiest things of course to get used to are the weather and the people. The weather is gloriously sunny and warm (especially after winter in Europe) and the locals are almost all approachable, friendly and helpful. People walk at what I like to call ‘African pace’ - i.e not too fast at all, which suits me perfectly and wine is especially cheap and good. The sunsets are gorgeous and fantastic nature and wide open space are all within easy access...I could go on and on

No question there’s a lot to like here and I am sure once we have the home, transport, friends and social life sorted out, not to mention a job for poor old unemployed expat wifey me, we are going to love this place. 
Feeling pretty darn lucky to be here!

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