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Kanniewaggie last won the day on October 7 2019

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About Kanniewaggie

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    Cary, NC
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    Nov 2014
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  1. Today seemed so far away, and yet, in the blink of an eye, we have arrived. Five years ago, two people stepped off an airplane and into one of their biggest adventures yet. It all started on that day we landed in Philadelphia, and got our Diversity Visa stamped, marking our official Resident status. That first week was our first LSD trip, and it was WILD! We relayed from Philadelphia on to Raleigh-Durham, and spent a couple of days exploring the Research Triangle Park. Well, more like exploring FOR the Research Triangle Park! Couldn't find it. Completely hidden from view! Along the way we established a US address in a postbox, applied for the All Important Social Security Number, opened a bank account, learned all about The Hurdle Known As Credit Score, looked at a couple of apartments to rent, and tried to work out where in the world we are. From Raleigh-Durham, we traveled a few hours westward to Charlotte, and immediately thought it was way cooler than R-D was! Spent another couple of days doing job interview(s), looking for places to live, and of course, most important of all, explored Carowinds! One week went by in a blur, and before we knew it, we were on our way back to SA, but we have managed to establish a presence in the US, and our Green Cards would be in our hands really soon! About one month later, I departed SA for a permanent move to the USA. My husband stayed on in SA for a few more weeks to tie things up, while I pioneered westward to set up our new lives in the USA. Thankfully we have some dear friends in the US willing to lend a helping hand, and we will forever be grateful for their assistance with a number of things that needed to be done. It really would be a lot harder to do this without someone who can point you in the right direction, or who is at a known location to receive notices and provide a base from where to operate. We were fortunate to secure an apartment before my arrival, so that was a huge relief. We also opted for Immigration Lite, which saw me fly in with two suitcases and a couple of dollars in my pocket. And then I had to buy what I needed: bed, bedding, toiletries, kettle, internet, TV, car, ... Another week of bouncing here and there and everywhere, falling in love with IKEA, falling out of love with self-assembling furniture, hating internet setups, loving how easy things work in the USA, hating credit scores, loving the people who are ever helpful, hating winters, loving the ability to walk to work, loving the view from the apartment, loving the endless possibilities here in the USA... At the end of the year, husband left SA, and we re-united to start settling in. The first year was quite a flurry of activity, and elsewhere on the forum is a post about all those adventures and the "honeymoon phase". I'll summarize some of it again here for completeness of this report. We had to visit Walt Disney World asap of course, and took a road-trip, one of many more to come, down to Florida from North Carolina. Husband managed to find and start a job within about a month of arriving and looking for work. We relocated a couple hundred miles eastward for said job. We visited many places, including trips to Boston and New York, both of which was amazing and exciting. We attended several sporting events, including a baseball game, several PGA Tour events, and a cricket match. We joined a golf club and made a few friends at the club. We discovered Greenways and explored for days on foot and on bicycles. We eventually worked up the courage to go for drivers licenses and found we passed it with ease, and regretted not getting it done sooner. We grew tired of paying a fortune to eat grilled steaks at the restaurants, and bought a braai and started grilling regularly at home. We increased in size. We learned to drink American Wine, but we love to find South African Wine in the USA. We learned to drink craft beer, and now we have become beer snobs. We discovered that there are many bugs in the USA. Oh so many bugs. Terrible bugs. They ruin summer, unless you buy all kinds of bug repellents, which works with varying degrees of success. We made peace with the fact that in the USA, homes do not have lighting in living spaces, you must bring the standing lamps. And plugs do not have switches, you just have to hope you do not touch anything live while working electrical cords. But all in all, we discovered that even though we miss our friends and family back in South Africa very very much, they are never too far away thanks to modern marvels like Skype and Facebook, and WhatsApp. The next couple of years saw many changes for us. We did another LSD trip down to Florida, and shortly after relocated there. We saw many job changes between the two of us. We bought more cars and we bought a town-home. We sold our house in South Africa and our things we loved so much. We bought many, many more things from Amazon. So many things. We found that the USA is like a collection of "countries" and what you get and do in one state, is not necessarily the way of the world in another state, even though it is all USA. We miss our South African favourite foods and stores, and now we miss our North Carolina favorite stores. But we learned to embrace the Walmart, and the Publix, and the local South African Goods traders. We found out there are many South Africans here in the USA, and you can kick one from behind just about any bush in the region. We love the festivals and the chance to Gooi Die Taal, and enjoy boerewors rolls, pies, and skaapbraai, and we still have to get to one of the Potjie festivals. We still have to learn what the deal is with American Football, but we enjoy going to or watching the games, even though it takes FOREVER. We have been to the beach, and it was busy and beachy and fun, and we should do it more. We discovered the weather. It is violent and wild, and miserable, but it passes by quick. We were thrilled to learn about "screened whatevers", which are bug-free and pleasant and soothes our African need to spend time outdoors with our braai and our wine and our pets. We have seen the National Mall and it was impressive. We have been to the Outer Banks and it was incredible. We learned about the Wright Brothers doing their test flights out there and realized that we know history, but we don't always know where that history happened. We visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and by accident learned about the First Colony and early US history. We went to see Dollywood and was amazed to find Pigeon Forge in the middle of nowhere being all touristy and surprisingly busy. We learned about "roadside attractions" and were skeptical and still have to venture on one of those. We discovered the Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail along the way and must go back to see more someday. We went to see a live volcano out in Hawaii. On bike. We went to St Pete Beach in Florida, and discovered Pass-A-Grille Beach and the fascinating story. We stopped to see some friends out at Melbourne, and they pointed us to Gator Tail and Frogs Legs at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp on the way back. Who knew? So good. We visited Myrtle Beach and got inspired and changed careers for a while. Endless opportunities for the taking. We camped out INSIDE a theme park, underneath the roller coasters. What a night! Endless fun! We played golf on so many of the famous courses, and more to look forward to. We have been to ice hockey, and even took a shot at goal, and did not land on our ass while at it. We have been to South Africa, we love to visit there and kuier with friends and family, but we love coming home at the end of the trip. And today we have been at this for a whole five years already. How time flies! We have recently put in our application for citizenship, so next year will be filled with more exciting events. While we enjoy our visits to South Africa, we wish for all of our friends and family to come and visit us here in our new home. There are many more things we look forward to as we continue our adventure. We must go and see the National Parks. Many of them. We must go ski, and we must go see the Rockies in the summertime. We must go see Chicago. And the North in the summer, that everyone raves endlessly on about. We have to visit Cedar Fair, of course. We must go see Texas, where rumour has it there is an unusually large gathering of South Africans. We must go see the Grand Canyon. We must go see Canada, or parts of Canada. We must go taste bourbon in Tennessee and/or Kentucky. We must go see the wine country in California. We must go visit Key West, and dive the reefs out there. We want to go cruising again, to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska, everywhere! So many more places to go and so many more experiences waiting. We'll see y'all out there!
  2. Tinjana, you need to have the address for the same area where you go to the Social Security Office. So if you for instance look at staying in Austin, get the mailbox there and go to the office in Austin. You will be completing forms, including your address where they will be sending the social security cards (the ups address). Take your passports with the immigrant visa and birth certificates also for additional reference. You can also check the social security website for more details. The Ups store can forward your mail to you in SA at an additional cost, but I think it might be a bit risky to have your greencards send that way. We provided the address of some friends for the greencards, and they then couriered the cards to us. Normal post in SA is way too risky.
  3. It is really interesting to read all the advice provided, so here is my 2 cents worth. If getting a job already creates a big headache for you, then go ahead and contact some recruiters and arrange to visit them during your LSD. I did just that and it makes a great impression on them and the employers when they can confirm they had a face to face interview with you. I got a great job because of that, even though we were still staying in SA. It did mean that I had to pack up and move to the States a bit earlier than planned, while my husband stayed back in SA to finish his job responsibilities. But it was all worth it, and we had much less to worry about. In terms of the SSN, my advice is to also apply for it during your LSD. It is a very important piece of paper (E.g. You need the SSN when applying for rent, getting a job etc.), so rather be pro-active by going to the Social Security Administration offices to apply, than hoping it would arrive when you've moved here. You'll need an addrees in the state where you apply for the SSN, so we got a mail box at the UPS store which provide you with a street address. This also helped to get a bank account opened, also while still on the LSD.
  4. One year ago I landed in the USA, after a crazy 6 month journey where we learned we won the DV2014 in May 2014 (checking our 2015 entry status), getting all the paperwork in order, keeping fingers crossed we make it under the cut, getting medical exams completed (and surviving the accompanying pep-talk and scare-mongering), flying back and forth for an interview, job hunting on the internet, a blitz LSD, much research on destinations, a month holiday to Alaska and California, and packing 2 suitcases with the critical items for emigration. We were very fortunate to have good friends in the USA to lean on and help make the transition easier. Through them we were able to get our Green Cards in hand before flying to the US, and also to find an apartment, furniture and a vehicle when I landed late November 2014. It really helps to have someone with experience ready to advise, guide and help you avoid stupid traps. Of course there were also you lot who provided a ton of helpful hints, tips and information to make decisions and plans much easier to deal with. During our LSD to RTP and Charlotte (NC) in August, I made an appointment to see the recruiter at the staffing firm that contacted me during my internet job searches. This may have helped land me a good contracting position with Bank of America in Charlotte, which was also a blessing because our good friends lived close by and was able to welcome me to my new home. But, on the downside, landing a job that quickly meant a change in schedule and I had to leave Hubby in SA to finish up while I hastened westward across the sea ! Fortunately the 6 weeks went by in a blur of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, induction at work, assembling flat-pack furniture, Skype kuiers with friends and family over the Festive Season and driving on the wrong side of the road. Once Hubby arrived with his 2 suitcases (makes the drive from the airport easier if you bring less baggage), we set off exploring our new country. During the first month while Hubby was doing interviews with a variety of employers, I was sent off to Jacksonville, FL, for 10 days to work in a control room there. Jacksonville, FL, is a mere two hours from The Happiest Place On Earth, so naturally Hubby had to get in the car and drive down from Charlotte, NC, so we could experience a longish weekend of some magic and happiness ! While there Hubby managed to survive some tough online interview tests, and upon our return to NC the next week managed to get a contract position as well. Only, this was in Cary, NC, some 200 miles east from home-base ! Well, Hubby started commuting weekly over to Cary, while we explored Charlotte on weekends. Towards April, as our apartment lease in Charlotte concluded, we moved to a house in Cary, where we could keep our pets, who were scheduled to emigrate later in the year once we have settled. I was fortunate that my job allowed me to work remotely, and that my manager approved this arrangement. Along the way we had an adventurous wine festival in Blowing Rock, a fun trip to 2 PGA tour events, a Baseball game (with beer and fuzzy memories of the evening), a couple of trips to Carowinds to ride the worlds tallest and fastest giga-coaster and a bunch of other thrilling rides, a trip to DMV to finally get our drivers licenses and a trip to the beach (Myrtle Beach, where we ate a lot, especially some fantastic sushi, and oysters at a dodgy-looking bar, and drank a lot of Jack to fight off the unpleasant weather) In May I visited South Africa to fetch our "4-legged kids", and brought only the eldest along, because the younger had adopted her baby-sitter and preferred to stay there... Back in the USA, we continued exploring and visited Boston to see U2 in concert, ride awesome rides at Six Flags New England, joined a local golf club and played fun events like Nine, Wine and Dine, got a Weber and braaied a lot, got all manner of mozzi repellent and fly-shooers (n Vlieeplak werk steeds die beste), got bicycles and cycled all about town and ate too much Cookies-and-Cream ice cream. By the time September rolled in we were expecting the excitement to start fading away, but we had booked a cruise to Hawaii last year (while cruising to Alaska, you get discount for booking onboard, and we are suckers for discounts ... Already have our next cruise booked while cruising to Hawaii...), so off we set on more adventure ! When we returned from Hawaii, fall had taken over NC and it was miserable and wet and cold for days. But we found SA Red Wine, as well as a good shaker of mulling spices, so Gluewein comforted our sorry spirits. In October we flew to SA again, but sadly this time for a funeral. My mother passed away suddenly in the ripe old age of 74, a couple of weeks before her birthday. It was unexpected and while she was suffering some health problems lately, she was an old kanniedood. We managed to get a week off from work to go to SA, which speaks volumes about how the people here value family and relations. Even though we just returned from an extended vacation a few weeks earlier, there was great understanding for our situation from both our employers. And although we are both on contract, meaning we are free to stay at home and not get paid, we were not made to feel that we should "hurry back" immediately after the funeral. I have great appreciation for the way Americans work. They work hard, but they play hard too. A well balanced Work-Life balance is something we can aspire to here. Finally we went to see the All Star Cricketers in action in The Big Apple a coupe of weeks ago. What a fun and noisy day with A Lot of Indians and some Aussies, English and a few Saffas too ! The Sunday we toured Manhattan and saw Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty off in the distance and a little bit of Central Park. Sadly no Friends attraction or exhibition, but we did experience a bit of home at Braai on 51st in the heart of NYC ! And that, in not so much a nutshell, is how the first year went ! There is still so much to go see and do, we surely won't sit and wonder too long about where to next. If you have the chance to come to the USA, just go for it. There is a million places to go and even more to do, so you will find somewhere that you can be comfortable. Just go with it and leave pre-conceived notions and ideas back in SA: start fresh and be whatever you want to be - America lives up to the tagline "the land of Opportunity". Go grab it ! See you at the airport :-)
  5. Well, I guess the rent can fluctuate a bit depending on where you're going. We are currently staying in a 4 bedroom house for just under $2000. We could get cheaper, but we were looking for a place with an enclosed back yard, and they are very scarce.
  6. Pickles, we were lucky to have a good friend that could check out some apartments and made some suggestions. When we decided on a place there was a lot of paperwork to complete. They did do a credit check, and because we did not have a credit record here, we had to put down a full months deposit. From there it was smooth sailing. So it really makes your life much easier if you know someone here. But I did find that renting agencies are appreciative of your circumstances and if you are willing to put down A big enough deposit, then you should not have a problem.
  7. I was 42 and my husband 43 when we landed. It took us 3 months from receiving our visas to moving into our first apartment in the US.
  8. We had our green cards couriered to us. It definately made things much easier both checking in for the flights in SA (they asked for the green cards) and then entering the USA where they have the self service kiosks where you scan your green card. But I guess if you don't have it, it is not a trainsmash.
  9. Kanniewaggie


    Good luck to everyone that entered!
  10. We're holding thumbs with you!
  11. Can anyone suggest a good tax consultant that can really help with the tax returns for SARS and the IRS?
  12. I've had a very good experience with a recruiter. Also had telephonic discussions and then visited him on out LSD trip. He got me a good contract where I'm earning double I earned in SA, even before I landed in the USA. I guess I was lucky and you should not view this as the norm. But I think it is definately worthwhile using a recruiter to get into the job market here.
  13. We just showed our pension fund statements and that was sufficient. Also had a valuation on our property, but they didn't even want to see that.
  14. I have finally arrived. Got off the plane on Wednesday and were greeted by some very good friends here. So let me tell you a bit about the trip and what happened before I got on the plane. When I landed the job couple of weeks back the first task was to get a place to stay. Did some research on the net and decided to stay as close as possible to my new workplace - smackbang in town! Now coming from the winelands in Stellenbosch where we literally walk onto the winefarm when we go out the door this is a thing. But to make the transition as easy as possible this was what was needed. At least I don't need a car immediately and can get used to the way around before I have to find places on my own. So my very good friends were my eyes and ears and scouted the possibilities. The apartments were narrowed down and eventually we decided on the one. Now this was a great choice and I'm really happy here. But then came the paperwork. Now after having to do stacks and stacks of paperwork for the background checks from the employers, this was a breeze. But if anyone is looking for a good service opportunity, start filling out paperwork for new immigrants. This is time consuming, confusing and sometimes plain irritating. Man, these guys just love their paperwork. Long story short, if you thought it is difficult to get a job from SA, try doing rental agreements, deposits, background checks and all that stuff. I was lucky to have Kathie here, as she paid the deposits and had the necessary discussions on my behalf (she's a real gem). So if you do have someone here, make sure you send them some money to help with all the deposits. They have issues accepting international credit cards ( they will want to call you and talk to you about it first before accepting the payment), you surely don't want to send them a check via mail (which they actually prefer) and EFT is non-existing, even if you have a US bank account. So my further advice is that if you come for your LSD trip, make sure you get that secured credit card and the UPS store mailbox for your local address, and a local mobile number (for some reason they really struggle to call our +27 numbers and are always asking for a local number). Without that you need to know a gem on this side to help you out. Now back to OR Tambo. Strange thing when checking in, was that they gave the visa one look and immediately asked for my greencard. Not sure what would have happened if I did not have it, but luckily we received ours just the weekend before. I think it might have something to do with the visa expiring in less than 6 months (ours expire in Jan). After that no other issues. Arriving in the States I met with the automated self checking machines at border control. Great thing was that there were barely a row in the US citizen and Resident side, but it took me quite some time to get the machine to eventually scan my greencard. It was built for scanning passports and you have to put the greencard in just right to get it scanned. The screen then show your details, ask you to scan your finger prints, take a picture and then print you something that looks similar to a boarding pass with your picture on. Then you go stand in the short line and a border control officer do exactly what the machine did - check your detail (this time including your passport as well), scan you finger prints, take a picture, and then ask some questions. He asked how long I was outside of the US. Then why did I leave the US. Also did I plan on staying permanently this time. And then the great part - WELCOME HOME :-D This has now been a long story, but just this last thing - background checks. They do them for everything. By now I must be 760 points in the red for my credit rating. Checks have been done by my contract recruiter, then by the customer for whom I'll be working, then for the apartment lease, then for the secured credit card, and yesterday again for the utilities transfer. And it does not even help to say don't do the checks you will find nothing, this is just done by the book. This was an experience, and I am so happy to be here. So bring on the rest of the adventure!
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