More often than not, those who leave South African shores are supported by their families whom they’re emigrating with. They have made the decision as a group, sometimes because of the group, and are emigrating with the knowledge that they’ll make it work as a family, as a couple, or as a group of friends.
But there’s also the forgotten emigrant; the lone emigrant who chooses to move overseas to start a new dream or seek a novel adventure. This is the emigrant no one seems to understand. Your family and friends think you are crazy for packing up and leaving on your own. They ask ‘why?’, when they should be asking ‘why not?’. Because, without anything to tie you down, why stay in one place all your life? Why not experience the world and see what it has to offer?
Are you one of them? Or are you one of those people still wondering about whether or not you should go? Well, we’ve put together a few things to consider if you’re deciding on a solo voyage abroad.
Emigrating alone can be lonely
It’s not hard to see how a solo trip can be a lonelier goodbye than if you were moving as a family. You won’t have the empathy of those closest to you to help you on those lonely nights, you won’t have warm hugs when you need them, or someone waiting for you when you get home from work – so be sure to have a friend or loved one on speed-dial for those days.
Emigrating alone can be less stressful
As lonely as it can get, the solo emigration process actually tends to be less stressful. You don’t need to consider the feelings of your fellow travellers or worry how they’re coping. You can be a bit selfish and indulge yourself if you feel things are going downhill, whereas families need to take care of each other’s needs first, and parents often need to put their own emotions on the back-burner.
Emigrating alone can be fun from the start
Okay, so we’re not saying you should expect to arrive at your land of milk and honey all footloose and fancy free, but… no, wait, that’s exactly what we’re saying. Emigration is serious, serious, business. But as a singleton (especially as a singleton), you should try to immerse yourself in the new culture as soon as possible. Get to know the city, treat the town like a tourist and participate in local festivals and crafts. You will have time on your hands and the freedom to spend this time at your leisure. You don’t need to cook for anyone, iron for anyone, do homework with anyone. So just enjoy it!
Emigrating alone can make it harder to make friends
Families who emigrate often have that lifeline of being invited to events and get-togethers as a unit, even though it may only be that one of them knows the person who invited them. Bob’s colleagues may have invited the family over for a dinner, Mary’s preschool may have a play the family can attend or Diana’s teenage friend has told them about a local craft market which everyone in the area attends. On your own, you will not have as many opportunities to meet people in your community – unless you actively seek these opportunities.
Emigrating alone has less admin
This one pretty much goes without saying, but as a solo emigrant, the process will be far simpler. You have one type of Visa to organise, you are one person who needs a job and has to pass emigration exams, you are one person who must choose an area to live and a new car. You don’t need to look for schools, enrol kids in extracurriculars, cater for special needs of your family – indeed, it’s just so much easier.
Emigrating alone can be dangerous
As a lone ranger off on your own, you won’t have the collective input of a family to guide your decisions, and if anything happens to you, it will be harder and take longer to inform your loved ones and get assistance. Luckily the world really isn’t such a bad place – but be aware and vigilant, have safety protocols in place in case something bad happens (someone locally who will check up on you), and do thorough research on the safety of the area you will stay, scam trends, cultural and religious taboos and don’t act like a naive tourist when it comes to your health and safety.
Time to decide
Of course, there are several other points to consider if you’re emigrating alone. But if the fear stopping you from going is irrational – put it back in its box and take the leap. You know yourself better than anyone. Perhaps such a move will wreck you and push you over the edge completely, or mayhaps it is the answer to a new dream and new horizons you have been waiting for.
We’ll leave you with this quote from Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer:
“make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”
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