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MichaelDuPreez

What Are The Perceptions Of Saffas's In The Us?

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I was just wondering how the average American views us Saffa expats, what are the perceptions?

 

Obviously countries like the UK and Oz have much closer ties to South Africa, and have larger ex-South African's in their countries, so they are more informed.

 

As I am considering emigration to the US, I was just curious if anyone knew what the common generalizations are about south africans, particularly in the United States.

 

Does anyone have any experiences on this they could share?

 

Thanks

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An amazing number of people think we have lions, tigers and giraffes walking around. Americans also seem to have trouble with the idea of Africa being full of autonomous countries. They tend to think of it similarly to the USA with lots of states in one big country. I have learnt to explain that I am from South Africa. It is at the bottom of Africa. We have our own President, Languages, laws etc.

A lot of very otherwise well-informed Americans appear to think it is a huge adjustment for us. It was spelled out to me by someone I just didn't 'get' once. What is it like having thinks like TV's, computers, Wii, cellphones, etc now that we are in the USA. Because obviously we didn't have them in SA!

If you come accross someone who has met a SA'er before - and there are a surprising number of them - they will have a better understanding of SA.

If you are talking to someone and they stare at you blankly, it is probably because they can't understand you. I had a moment like that the other day and I have been here for almost 2 1/2 yrs. I was talking about people who just 'rock up' at your house. The poor person had no idea what I was talking about! I have never used the expression 'pull in', but I imagine it would get the same response. We are exposed to alot of US tv etc, so we generally know what Americans are talking about. It does not work the other way round. It appears that very few Americans have actually left the US. If you look at the size of it, and the diversity accross the different states, there is simply no need for it. It is almost like 50 different countries in one.

As South Africans, we are exposed to such a variety of people, it is hard to imagine a nation as insulated as the USA tends to be.

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Thanks for the reply :)

 

Seems like completely misinformed stereotype of 'Africans' is the order of the day.

 

Might be better in cities with larger concentrations of south african expats, where the locals have had some interaction with us :P

Edited by MichaelDuPreez

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As I am considering emigration to the US....

Michael, do you have a US visa allowing you to live and work here or do you have an avenue through which you can get one? Immigration to the US is notoriously difficult and I have seen many people doing lots of research into the country they want to move to, only to find out they don't qualify to get a visa.

 

If you're really serious about moving here, you will be well advised to figure out which visa you should apply for, and the timeline involved in getting it, as it takes a few years in most cases.

Edited by Superkruz

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An amazing number of people think we have lions, tigers and giraffes walking around. Americans also seem to have trouble with the idea of Africa being full of autonomous countries. They tend to think of it similarly to the USA with lots of states in one big country. I have learnt to explain that I am from South Africa. It is at the bottom of Africa. We have our own President, Languages, laws etc.

A lot of very otherwise well-informed Americans appear to think it is a huge adjustment for us. It was spelled out to me by someone I just didn't 'get' once. What is it like having thinks like TV's, computers, Wii, cellphones, etc now that we are in the USA. Because obviously we didn't have them in SA!

If you come accross someone who has met a SA'er before - and there are a surprising number of them - they will have a better understanding of SA.

If you are talking to someone and they stare at you blankly, it is probably because they can't understand you. I had a moment like that the other day and I have been here for almost 2 1/2 yrs. I was talking about people who just 'rock up' at your house. The poor person had no idea what I was talking about! I have never used the expression 'pull in', but I imagine it would get the same response. We are exposed to alot of US tv etc, so we generally know what Americans are talking about. It does not work the other way round. It appears that very few Americans have actually left the US. If you look at the size of it, and the diversity accross the different states, there is simply no need for it. It is almost like 50 different countries in one.

As South Africans, we are exposed to such a variety of people, it is hard to imagine a nation as insulated as the USA tends to be.

 

I had to laugh - it's not just Americans who don't know some of our expressions/uses. My sister-in-law just found out to her mortification, having been in the UK for 5 years, that "pants" strictly refers to underwear there, and not "trousers"!! Also, I once stayed in a B&B in Germany where, upon hearing we were from SA, the owner showed us how a flush toilet worked... :D

 

About the perceptions... I haven't lived there yet, but have travelled around quite a bit, and spent a lot of time in NYC (where my father lives). Probably total around a year or more spent there if you add it all up. I find that it tends to vary both between states and large/small places within a state. I've had from the lions comments to "I didn't know there were white people in South Africa", but I have also met many Americans who are surprisingly knowledgeable about the country too and a good few who have travelled here either "on safari" (as they love to call it) and/or to the Cape etc. I'm not sure one can really generalise.

Edited by SJ27

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Think we have lots of Krugerrands to spare :huh: and that there are lots of cheap diamonds available in SA.

Think South Africa is very scenic place and can't believe we left those scenic beaches, but do remember the violence and scenes of necklacing and generally know that SA is a unsafe place and too far to travel to.

They don't always understand what we are saying.

They are impressed that we speak our minds at work and don't put up with B/S and feel we always get our way, and get away with things that the average American is too scared to challenge.

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Michael, do you have a US visa allowing you to live and work here or do you have an avenue through which you can get one? Immigration to the US is notoriously difficult and I have seen many people doing lots of research into the country they want to move to, only to find out they don't qualify to get a visa.

 

If you're really serious about moving here, you will be well advised to figure out which visa you should apply for, and the timeline involved in getting it, as it takes a few years in most cases.

 

Yup, immigrant Visa valid for 6 months. So the clock is ticking, and I need to make a move.

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SJ27's comment cracked me up about not knowing there were any white's living in South Africa. My husband is American and every time he says he's married to a South African he gets an odd look .But whats actually is sad is that when they say they didn't know there are whites and then you come back with a simple question "so you have heard of apartheid have you not?" you can see the wheel turning in their brain and they definitely know the word but it never clicks. Eventually you just say it was the big awful thing, the separation of blacks and whites...the whole Nelson Mandela legacy.... and finally the penny drops.

 

I've had dear husband's mom ask if we get hamburgers in SA and his dear father ask if we celebrate all the typical American holidays. I love it especially watching my husbands face when he has to explain the actual meaning about those very American holidays - to his family! Thank the gods that he's a well traveled individual because really...

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SJ27's comment cracked me up about not knowing there were any white's living in South Africa. My husband is American and every time he says he's married to a South African he gets an odd look .But whats actually is sad is that when they say they didn't know there are whites and then you come back with a simple question "so you have heard of apartheid have you not?" you can see the wheel turning in their brain and they definitely know the word but it never clicks. Eventually you just say it was the big awful thing, the separation of blacks and whites...the whole Nelson Mandela legacy.... and finally the penny drops.

 

I've had dear husband's mom ask if we get hamburgers in SA and his dear father ask if we celebrate all the typical American holidays. I love it especially watching my husbands face when he has to explain the actual meaning about those very American holidays - to his family! Thank the gods that he's a well traveled individual because really...

 

This was hilarious! Especially the holiday thing! I have had the same experience and had people believe me when I, out of sheer frustration, said that I had a pet lion. When asked what I fed it, I said zebra that I buy from the pet ship since the lion has to hunt ... oddly some believe that! I can also not count the number of times my husband has been asked if I am black ....

 

:)

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