Waiting to check into our flight to Florida

We immigrated to the USA. Here is what I learnt.

I have been struggling for a while to write this post. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. More so because I have so much to say and I don’t know how to squish it all into one post. So please forgive me if my first couple of posts are incoherent, or seem a bit gibberish. I just want to get to a point where I can start sharing the every day stuff with everyone.

We flew to the USA on 18 October 2019 – that is one month ago. One full month since we left our birth country to set up a new home in a country that is more foreign to us than Dr Pepper. One would be forgiven if you thought that a month of running around with your tail in a tizz is enough to drive you completely loco.

For us, it was a bit different. The last 6 months have been crazy. And to be honest, I would not have had it any other way. In the last 6 months we: heard there might be ab opportunity to transfer to the USA, went to Zanzibar for a holiday, got engaged. Planned a wedding. Decided not to h ave that wedding. Decided to take the opportunity to transfer and immigrate to the USA. Werner changed jobs, I had to let clients go, and adapt to new clients. Got tipsy one night at quiz (read, me), and decided at 1am to go ahead with a wedding with less than 2 months to go before moving to the US. Planned the whole wedding, planned the whole move, finalised transfer and immigration, had THE most amazing wedding 350km from home, decided that a honeymoon is out of reach, packed all our stuff, sold and gave away the rest, and organised for our pets to travel a month after us. And then finally… got on a plane on 18 October after some hectic airport goodbyes.

I am not sure how we did all of that. But thinking back now, it can only be because we had each other, and because we have the best people in our lives. My mom who put all her love into my dress. My parents for joining us on the farm for a week. My in laws for not only offering us the use of their farm for our wedding, but also for the patience and love. And our friends, brothers, sisters and a cousin ;).

Actually, I would want to thank each of them separately, but they each know just what they did, and how much that meant to us, even if there are no words that I can find to let them know just how much we appreciate them. Every hug, ever smile, every “how can I help”. And they all still had their own lives to deal with too. So, Ma Leonie, Pa Cobus, Ma Lorraine, Pa Willem, Annie, John, Mia, Flip, Wimma (jou yster), Nico, Marisa, Anke, Richelle, Lauren, Skelm, Adelle, Manie, Mariette, Aitjie and every guest that gave up their time, their weekends, and many many kilometers in the blistering sun at Matlabas Game Lodge, to share one helluva day with us – thank you. Our wedding was amazing, mostly because your presence made it amazing.

If you haven’t seen the photos of our picturesque wedding yet, taken by the super Talented Flippie Frost from Mark of Legend, here is a mini gallery for your enjoyment.

So, to get back to the topic of this post – what have I learnt since moving and during the move to the USA?


Be sure why you want to go

If you are iffy on the “I want to go”, then don’t go. Don’t go because your partner is going. Don’t go because you feel pressured with a job. Don’t go because you are mad at your country. Go because you want to. Only you are responsible for your choice here, and if something falters, only you can pick yourself up again.

You are going to have to make it work on that side, and when the settling in blues kick in, no one will be able to pick you up, only you. So be sure – yes you can come back. Sure. But if you go to all the effort, and have all the expenses, and make all the plans – then why would you want to turn back in the first place. So be sure of the why behind your move. This journey will test you in more ways than I can describe or warn you about.

Plan everything

Plan and forward think everything. And I mean everything. Ensure all your docs are in order, and that every single i is dotted and all t’s are crossed. Moving to any country is not for sissies. If you do not get all your docs (see what I did there) in a row, and all your facts straight you will run into trouble.


Keep it above board

Don’t try to sneak your way into a country. Your livelihood depends on it. Be sure you have the right VISA requirements in check, and that you are following protocol. Also, there are many types of VISAs. Also, if you want to immigrate, remember that are many other places to go to too.


The USA, Australia, New Zealand and the UK are not your only options.

Yes those are the big ones that most people aim for, but with the amount of people leaving South Africa nowadays, it has become rather difficult to get into these countries.There are many restrictions – from age, to education level. Each country also has their respective VISA types and rules to get into that country. There are many other countries that are just as beautiful, economically stable and who offer a great future for yourself and your family. I think I’ll write on this a bit more another time.


The people that want to be there, will be there

From the moment you set the plan into action, there will be people who will say “yes man, we must braai before you go!”. Do you? No. Do not feel bad for not being able to see everyone. Most of the time you are two people who must make plans to get to everyone. The people who want to see you more before you go, will make a plan to do so. You’ll immediately notice those who won’t. Do not feel bad. I repeat, do not. They can come to you too. And if they don’t, and you have invited them before… that’s not on you. Make time for the people you love, and who want to spend time with you.


Take all the photos

Go crazy with the selfies. Take photos of everyone, and make sure you can access them on the other side. Those photos will become your prized possessions. You will appreciate them more than you can ever understand right now. So go mad and take as many as you can, of all your friends, of all your family moments. And stop caring if you look good.


You will be broke afterwards, guaranteed

I’d put money  on this, if I had any. I’ll write a post or two about the things we did not know to plan for. Put extra money away. Double what you think you would need. You will still be broke afterwards. There is nothing you can do about it. Sorry. The bright side? Now you can build a new life, and you will recover.

Jet lag is a real thing

6 hours does not sound like much a of a difference, right? Psshh…. jet lag catches you at moments when you think you’ve escaped it for good. It will make you overly emotional. It will swing your emotions. My best advice? Be kind to yourself. Push yourself to keep too your regular bed time. Do not take naps. Go easy on the caffeine. Exercise. And if you have to use a sleeping tab the first three nights to get your circadian rhythm going again, do it.


Be prepared to be put out of your comfort zone good and proper

Nothing will be familiar. The drinks, food and language your know and are used to will be different. People will talk differently, walk differently and have different ways of doing things. You will miss your favourite mayonnaise, and you most likely will not find biltong. It will get better.

Adapt, adapt, adapt

Adapt, and roll with the punches. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help and to look like an idiot. We’ve all  had to.


You will get lonely, and you have to do something about it

No one can do anything about this, except you. If you miss your people, you call them. Set up time, a WhatsApp call, a video call, and catch up. You will have to become comfortable with  your own space, if you aren’t already, and you will have to make an effort to do so. You will have top explore new hobbies, make new friends, find new spots, find a new favourite beer, and just perhaps find a new takeout. It becomes a true adventure once you get over the fear.


Taking your pets with you is not an option

I can see a glaring eye from a lot of people. If you can afford to take your animals with your, do so. Or, have them fostered whilst you save to get them there. You chose to adopt/buy them. You take them with. Or, find them someone that you approve of and that WILL take care of them until the days they need a hand to hold when they drift off to doggy/kitty heaven. You at least owe them that much.

Cut yourself, and your partner some slack

This is possibly the most important one. You will become needy. You will become a grouch. You might even fall ill, or fall into a pit of depression. And so could your partner. Cut them some slack. Make extra effort to show them love, and to give them space when they need it. Love them more and treat them with even more respect than you ever through possible. You are a team. And you’ve come this for, so far. And together you can do this. Maybe not all in one day, but the best is yet to come.


2 thoughts on “We immigrated to the USA. Here is what I learnt.”

  1. Pragtig en dankie Maliza, dit is goed om te lees hoe julle dit ervaar het. Hierdie is n pragtige idee en ek sien uit daarna om die volgende te lees. Maak die beste daarvan net soos julle kan en dit sal jul goed gaan. Ek is dankbaar vir jul in my lewe.

  2. Such a great post. All those things and remember that when you think you are over being occasionally homesick – after 6 months or a year or longer – it will sneak up and tap you on the shoulder. Have your coping strategies in place and you will be better than fine.


Leave a Comment