Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guest Post: Stephanie Swan

Hello my wonderful blog readers, since I’m  away on a mini vacation, I asked my lovely sister Stephanie from Him & Her to tell you a little about how difficult it was for her to adapt in another country and how different South Africa is from other countries.

When I left South Africa almost 9 years ago (oh my word, can't believe it's been THAT long), i was probably naive in thinking that there won't be THAT big a difference between SA & UK.  I was SO wrong!

I started my working/travelling journey in Scotland; and boy did I struggle to understand the people there!  If I think how many times I've asked them to repeat (whatever they are saying) & after the 3rd time I either just nod & smile (because I STILL don't understand them) or I just ask them to write it down for me.  At the hotel where I worked, one of the chefs told me once that he thought that all South Africans are stupid because we can't understand them - where my reply to that was that if you guys OPENED UP your mouths and stop mumbling, we could hear what you are saying. (he was not impressed with this comment).  With the mumbling & accents they also use quite a few slang words. 

Here is a few examples:
aye – yes
bog – toilet
ken - know (like in:  aye i ken - yes i know)
erse - bum or arse
fag – cigarette
naw – no
pollis - the police
wee totty - little child
bonnie - beautiful (most of them use this as bonnie lass - beautiful girl)
cannae – can't
fit like min - how are you (not sure how they got these together)
hogmanay - new years eve
ye – you
ya bas - you bastard
With these slang words & strange phrases they use - it is understandable that it was not an easy task. (especially if English isn't even my first language).  

15605276183_H9T7P my sister, Janine, on the airport - on one of my visits back home.

When I moved to London a year later it was easier to understand the language BUT now you have ALL the different cultures all over the world in one place - not an easy task.  Like South Africa the UK people have different slangs & accents according to where they are from.  A good example for South Africa, is that the Cape Town people (Capies) sound completely different than the Johannesburg people & then there is also all the different languages that also play a role. 

Now in England you have the northerners & the southerners that sound completely different from each other.  Not to make it sound blunt or horrible in any way, but the difference for me between these 2 is:  northerners (Cheryl Cole) sound uneducated where the southerners (like the Queen) sound over educated and very posh.

Here is a few examples of english sayings:
arse – bottom
baby minder - baby sitter
bender - pub crawling or heavy drinking session
blimey - an exclamation of surprise
bloody - swear word  (we all know this from Notting Hill gate the movie)
bob's your uncle - this is a well used phrase.  it's added to the end of sentences a bit like and that's it!
bollocks - when something is now good (that's bollocks
bugger - another often used swear word
chuffed - pleased with something
cock up - made a mistake
dear - when something is expensive
caff - cafe but like a eating cafe / restaurant (normally very cheap)
flog - to sell something
grub - food (like nosh) - like grub's up
tea - dinner or a full course meal - like what did you have for tea?  (i still don't understand this one)
naff – uncool
porkies - when you tell lies
potty - means you are crazy
snog - making out
ta - thank you
pants - is underwear over here & you should say trousers
mobile – cellphone 
tights - is pantyhose 

Then we have certain product we name them according to their brand name for example:  lip balm - we call it lip-ice; chewing gum - we call it chappies and qutex for nail varnish. (To this day, I still use these names and I get huge question mark faces from the people here).

After getting use to the language difference, there is still quite a few differences between SA & the UK. 

15605596132_GKB4hHaving a winter and cold Christmas over here in London was hard to get use to since my whole life I had a hot (actually too hot) Christmas in SA.  Having very short (or none at all) summers and VERY VERY long winter months. 

15605716246_bJwKFIt's a luxury to have a back garden & your own front door (up to 5 flats can share 1 front door).  To have SO many different cultures in one place that you are actually wondering where is all the English people?  Have extremely LOOOOOOOONG hours at work. 

15605777726_4ct54 To travel for an hour to work, on the tube or train, and then thinking HOW lucky you are that your journey is so short.  Daylight savings time!! For South Africans THIS is extremely strange!  twice a year you either move the clock 1 hour back or 1 hour forward.  So when it's summer the sun only goes down after 9.30 at night & are already up at 3.30am.  BUT in the winter it's dark after 3pm & the sun is only gets up after 7.30am.  Not being able to talk on the tubes or trains - you can but you will get crazy looks & people thinking you are 'potty' (hiehiehie). 

I love what this country can offer anyone and the different opportunities that you can have. If I think of all the things we've seen & experienced - I realize just HOW lucky we are for being here.

15605845609_V2FWHIt is also very easy to travel anywhere in the world. Like our trip to Venice 
15605878132_5TkC3 our Bournemouth long weekend 
15605932251_G4kDv few times we've been to Paris.

But it is still very hard sometimes to live your life far away from your family & friends that are in South Africa. It feels like you are missing out on their life...

Thank you so much my wonderful sister! We miss you loads here in South Africa and I hope you and Wayne will visit us soon! I love you always and always!