I’m back – with the Expat Meme

The fact that I have come back from my holiday with the best tan I’ve had all summer seem to me to be an indication of the dismal summer we’ve been having in England.  I mean… long, languid days; mosquito sprays; sundresses; and sultry, humid nights aren’t the first things that spring to mind when you think of Austria, are they? But that’s exactly what I’ve been enjoying over the past 10 days.  No doubt I will be posting about it all here soon, but for now I will merely say that we have slept in 7 cities since 17 August; had two Michelin-starry tasting menus; gorged on leberkäse and käsekrainers, seen The Kiss again, had my fill of schlagobers, eaten flammenkueche in Heidelberg and tasted Champagne in Champagne.  Just to mention a few highlights 😉

But to ease myself back into this blogging lark, I thought I’d kick off gently with a meme that’s been flating round the blogosphere for a while – the Expat meme.  I found it on Charlotte’s wonderful blog and as a fellow South-African expat, I thought I’d join in.

5) Name five things you love in your new country

  • the plentiful, safe and reliable public transport
  • the proximity to wonderful, wonderful Europe (Paris in particular!) and its food, art, architecture, history and general wonderfulness
  • seeing the beautiful St Paul’s cathedral every day as I walk from the station to work
  • sunset at about 10pm in the middle of summer
  • the postal service.  OMG, does it work efficiently!!

4) Name four things you miss from your native country

  • my two best friends, my brother and my two nephews
  • walking on Robberg Beach early in the morning and finding a pansyshell
  • the sound of crickets at night and the smell of rain on hot tarred roads
  • the abundance friendly, smiling people everywhere who love to chat

3) Name three things that annoy you in your new country

  • the general rudeness and anger of strangers in London.  Everybody just seems to be looking for an excuse to fly off the handle and punch somebody else.  It really is every man for himself.
  • the fact that no courier, delivery or utility company will make a fixed appointment to see you – it’s always "we have a slot from noon to 6pm available".  What – like I don’t have to work for a living and sit home on the sofa eating chocolates all afternoon?!
  • not being able to speak to a real person in this country at my bank.  And you can forget about having your branch manager’s name, much less his telephone number!

2) Name two things that surprise you (or surprised you when you arrived) in your new country

  • crazy health and safety rules.  No school ties in case one kid strangles another.  Life belts around a decorative pond that’s like a foot deep.  People in the office freaking out when you pick up anything heavier than a paperclip.
  • the obsession with post codes.  People don’t tell you the name of the suburb that they live in – they’ll say smugly "I live in N1" – like that means something to a fresh-off-the-boat Saffer!

1) Name one thing you would miss in your new country if you had to leave

  • my-wonderful-friends-from-all-over-the-world-broad-beans-public-transport-daffodils-in-the-park-weekends-in-Europe-the-Henley-Regatta-oatcakes-Monsoon-cheap-broadband-London-theatre-earning-Pounds

    (does that count as one thing??)

I don’t think I have to nominate anyone else for this, but I am going to pass it on to a few other fab blogging expats that I know:

Caroline, Mieliepap, Ronell, African Vanielje, Sally and StClaire

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  1. says

    thanks jeanne, I’ll try to figure out this meme thing. I’ve missed you while you were gone, but it seems like you had a fabulous time. Excuse me while I just try to tone down the green. Can’t wait to see the WTSIM roundup. Just been peeking at the passionate cook (or your erstwhile partner in crime). Hers looks like something out of an Australian Gourmet Traveller. Can’t you ban her for excess aesthetic value or something?

  2. says

    Mine was very like yours in reverse. I’d forgotten about the 12-6 delivery slots and unobtainable bank managers over there.
    Glad you had a great holiday, looking forward to hearing about it.

  3. says

    Hello there!
    Sailing in the blogosphere I found your interesting blog.
    I know in Southafrica now many races are living in peace, Im very happy because this.
    I think we have to learn about our past errors…:)
    If you want, visit my blogs, you can use my translation on mnovilwagg, the principal one.
    Warm greetings from Chile!!
    Keep blogging…

  4. says

    Welcome back Jeanne and glad to hear that Europe provided you not only with great food (how fantastic are Flammkuechen?) but a tan too! I was probably in Italy when you swung through Heidelberg, but the next time you come, please let me know so that we can meet up.
    I can relate to all the things you miss about South Africa and all the good and bad things about the UK. That bank thing is truly irritating.

  5. says

    What an interesting meme. Interesting that the things you like over here are the things lots of us complain about/take for granted (the postal service and public transport, for instance). Also, I’d never thought much about how lucky I am to be so close to so many other wonderful, interesting countries. Again something I have always taken for granted. Thank you for making me think!

  6. says

    Thanks-a-lot! Now you have made me homesick for the smell of fresh rain on hot tar roads! Just to report back, Nice biscuits in Oz are not quite the same, sadly, as Tennis biscuits back home, they have a coating of a kind of crystallised sugar which is tasty, but just same-same-but-different!

  7. says

    You are going around sleeping in all these countries while I’m busting my behind off opening a new school! I hope you had fun, and thanks for the note on my blog.

  8. says

    Jeanne – I have been a blog slacker lately, but am going to try and pull myself together to do this meme! Thanks for passing it along. And, want to hear a small world story? I was reading your list of expats, and realized – I am pretty sure I know st. claire! my now-husband and i used to work for the international teacher-exchange organisation that brought him to north carolina about 5-6 years ago. I remember him clearly – not sure if he remembers me! he wrote a story once for the newsletter i edited for the program – it was called the navigator. funny, yes?