Thursday, 5 April 2012

Starting Again..

The Entrance to Via Vercelli 

Once upon a time I had a successful and upwardly mobile career as a lawyer in my home country, South Africa. I had been recruited by one of the biggest firms in SA and happily made the move up to Johannesburg, or Egoli, as it is known (meaning city of gold). My best friend had made the move before me and was thriving and I decided it was time to spread my wings, go out into the World and realise my potential. I found a townhouse on the internet that I fell in love with and duly sent the BFF for an inspection. He told me I would love it, and I did. Via Vercelli was everything I could have wanted from my first home and more. It was sunny, it had a small garden with an amazing water feature, the complex was well maintained and close to all the amenities and, over weekends, only 15 minutes away from Sandton and some of the best shopping in the World. I felt blissful and could not wait to settle into my new home and job. I had my incredible Mother with me and together her and I did my place up in about a day, that night when BFF came for dinner he could not believe I had just moved in, miracles had been wrought and I was thrilled to bits. 
My Verandah 
I started work at my new firm and the place was amazing. A foyer so grand it was like a 5 star hotel! I had my own office, parking spot and the support of an excellent team of people who were super friendly and welcoming. But as the days wore on I felt a sense of disappointment. I can honestly say that the disillusion with regards to being a lawyer had crept in many years before and I had hoped that a change of scene and a new challenge would set me straight. I was wrong. I found the constraints of a large law firm to be terribly depressing, my time was not my own, in fact it was the firms from sun up until sundown and even though I loved my life over the weekends, I hated my life during the week and I began to wonder if this was all life should be. Not being outside in the sun but sitting inside a cold office looking out at the sun. I was only 27. 
Leaving South Africa had been on the cards for me for a long time; my uncle had been in Australia for a number of years and we had always holidayed there, I always felt at home 'Down Under' and so with the realisation that I could no longer be a lawyer it was decided that it was the perfect time to begin the arduous migration process. Little did my family or I know quite how arduous it would be. The first hurdle was informing my new employers that I was wanting to resign; it was almost unheard of for someone with such a promising future to wish to leave the firm and it was with regret that I left. In all honesty it was nothing that the firm had done, it was just the space I was in that meant I could not foresee my future with the firm at that point in time. I gave up my beautiful flat, with a breaking heart, and proceeded to get a visa to Australia to go in search of employment opportunities. It did not take me long to find a job as a Construction Law Legal Advisor (Construction Law was my specialisation and in Australia I am not a solicitor until I have done all the conversions and been admitted into their court.) 
My Little Garden 

Though I had secured a job the main focus was in getting the requisite visa and being a South African meant that I had to go through the Spanish Inquisition. Nevermind the usual paperwork I was made to sit an International English Exam, I found it quite funny that I had gone from being the top English student in my University class to having to prove my English speaking capabilities. That was only one requirement in a list as long as my arm. I also had the misfortune of signing up with a group of migration attorneys who showed themselves to be a bunch of incompetent hacks. They dithered with my visa for an entire year, stringing me along with promises of 'oh your visa is just around the corner' etc while I was sitting waiting patiently and then impatiently in South Africa to get on with my new life. Eventually I fired the idiots and hired a firm that proved themselves to be able, intelligent and enthusiastic about my visa and within 6 weeks I was in Australia. I do not wish to minimise the trauma of what it took to get here; it was expensive, time consuming and extremely emotionally distressing and, unfortunately, that doesn't ease once you land in your new country. 

My Cute Kitchen 
So why leave? I hear people asking, which never has a simple answer. I suppose I was looking for a more secure life, a place where I could live in safety and go walking on the beach at night, drive with my windows down and my car door unlocked and live in a house not surrounded by high walls and enclosed by security bars. But people do underestimate the extensive toll that leaving your home country takes on you. It is a huge sacrifice, though I did make it willingly but the sailing is not always smooth in my new country. I left behind a group of friends who now pretend I do not exist and whilst I understand the concept of 'out of sight, out of mind,' it is still not easy to accept. I am not yet a permanent resident in Australia and so I have been unable to study to convert my degree to allow me to become a solicitor here. Medical aid is expensive, public transport is expensive and the cost of living is quite high. It may seem as if I am moaning but I am merely trying to point out that leaving home is never as simple as getting on a plane, waving goodbye and not looking back. There are monumental hurdles to be overcome and if I didn't have the support of my partner and family I am not sure if I would have made it. That being said, though my path is long and unknown and though I am no longer a spring chicken (I do feel rather old to be starting all over again at 30!) I am going to approach this new chapter of my life with enthusiasm. Starting over is not for the faint hearted, it takes guts, determination and a willingness to be beaten up a bit by life. Luckily my great ancestors were voortrekkers, so the gene of trekking, exploring and surviving are pretty strong in me. I am both scared and hopeful about the future but sometimes I do look back at my past life and feel sorry for myself because I have given up a lot to be in Australia and though it will be worth it in the end I do have my moments wondering if it is worth it now. I guess only time will tell, until then I'll keep plodding along, trying to make my mark and living life to the full. 
Thanks for stopping by.. xoxo

The Lounge 

My Bedroom 

The View

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