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Tokolosi

How do you cope?

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Got a question for the youth out there. How hard was it for you to slot into the american way of life? What were the hard things and what was easy?

 

Were you quickly accepted by your peers and if not why?

 

This is not just a question for school aged kids but rather for any 'young' people. I had a wife, a job and kids to keep me busy but how do you cope with dating, socializing etc. I would not be able to fathom. Kids, young people, singles and parents. What do you think? It could be informative for new Saffers.

 

I personally had some experience with being in a public school here in California a long time ago. I spent my 8th grade year (Standard 6) in an american school when my parents came out for a year. I had some tough times. Especially with my accent and my age at the time (I was 14). I was going through some weird things (puberty - dang I'm glad thats over) and it felt like the whole school was ganging up on me some days. I never quite got settled and went back to SA after a year. Got in fights, got tired of stupid questions (Did you live in a hut? etc.). Never really made friends.

 

I have heard of other SA's complaining about similiar issues with older kids. Small kids (0 - 6) seem to take to the new environment like fish to water. At least my little one did.

 

Your thoughts....

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Well, I'm an Au-pair in the US and it is very hard for me to get used to the American way of doing things. And another thing I can't stand is there food, it is so tastless. I miss my SA braai very much too.

 

And yes, I to get the question '' do you live in the bush in a hut? ''

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Our daughter struggled to fit in, and is still struggling to a certain extent, because when we arrived she had already completed a year of college back in SA. Our son started high school in the US at grade 9 and was the school "novelty" because of his accent, but they still treated him with curiosity more than friendship. The only real lasting friendships he has from school are all female. The kids here are just brought up so differently to what ours were back in Durban. Here they seem to be pushed out the house as soon as they are college age and so as a result are independant much sooner. With the circumstances of where we were living back in SA, we tended to molly-coddle our kids a lot more. Still, the benefits of the move have shown themselves over and over again with so many more opportunities open to them in the future.

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The only real lasting friendships he has from school are all female.

I'm sure he just hates that. :D

 

Your describing the kids treating him like a curious novelty fits in well with my own recollection. At that age kids need to fit the mold. Something different about you and you are treated like something weird.

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Being a male in high school here was fun...for the first few months...then the novelty side of it wore off and we were seen as freaks. I joined ROTC and it helped quite a bit....more dicipline and structure. Also, despite what many people think about Afrikaners, we are more inclined to make friends with other races - I had more indian, mexican and black friends than white - caused quite a stir because it is exactly the opposite of the stereotype. After a year or two, I adjusted completely and had friends all over the school - but the girls still avoided me like the plague - scared, I was told...didn't know what this african booty scratcher was capable of.... :censored:

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Guest Karen

Hi ,

 

I am Karen, a high school ex -SA teacher who, for the past 11 years has lived and taught in Toronto, Canada.

 

I have found your comments about adjusting to the American educational system very interesting and thought you might like to hear what things are like here for teens who come from other places.

 

Of course, I can only write about the schools I have taught in, which are in the suburbs, just north of the city, but I think that my experience would apply to most schools here.

 

The beauty of Toronto, is that it is such a wonderfully multicultural and multi -ethnic city which welcomes scores of immigrants from all over the world on a daily basis. So, having an accent or being from a different culture, country etc, is nothing new to our students. In fact, diversity is welcomed and even encouraged. We have many schools where the students speak no fewer than 35 different home languages! Tolerance is expected and taught from the very beginning and differences are celebrated and accepted as the norm. We are truly a world in one city.

 

SA teens here generally settle down fairly well and quickly, and usually after the first semester they feel quite at home and have made friends, both Canadian born and foreign born. The SA accent is a source of delight and fascination at first, but as accents abound here, the novelty of it soon wears off and it is just accepted that the student speaks in that manner. My own son, now aged 20, was just short of 10 when we arrived, and he decided to cultivate and keep his SA accent, and today it is a real 'babe magnet', he tells me! The hut question is rarely mentioned, as we have so many South Africans living in the city, and Canadians are actually well informed about the country and other places in the world. We have numerous stores in the city which sell SA products and Canadians seem to enjoy the ones we introduce them to. Ceres fruit juices are a huge hit, for example!

 

As a teacher, my accent is an asset. My students really listen to me, and I think they no longer even hear it. I have taught an African literature course and have introduced Alan Paton, Anchebe and Gordimer to students to help them appreciate other cultures. They have even mastered a few Zulu words and have been enthralled by it all!

 

So, it seems to me that settling down in Toronto is far easier for teens ( and yes, there are some very unhappy youngsters at first, as they are homesick and shell- shocked), who two years down the line never seem to look back.

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As a teacher, my accent is an asset. My students really listen to me,

This has happened to me as well. In meetings and negotiations which can sometimes drag on for hours people get bored and incessantly chat amongst each other. It can really be disruptive. Then I turn on the accent and lower my voice a bit. They literally strain forward so that they can hear and concentrate.

 

It has a disadvantage though. Some people will listen to 'how' you talk in stead of 'what' you are saying. This normally leads to lots of repeating.

 

And then of course there are the copycats. Some do it on purpose but a lot dont even know they do it. They copy the accent. P's me of no end!

Edited by Tokolosi

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Guest Karen

Consider the copying a compliment!

 

Many years ago, I heard a student in the front of my class doing a pretty good impression of my accent for his buddies. I told him that I thought he had a wonderful talent and to please stand up and 'do' it for all of us.

 

Boy, was he ever embarrassed and of course he backed down. I have never had any problems since. That was about 10 years back and I believe that my students now listen to what I am saying and not how I am saying it. I am simply just another teacher who comes from another country, but is nevertheless a Canadian.

 

When we have travelled to the US, we are often asked to repeat what we have said, something that does not happen here. In Florida one year, we had a lot of trouble convincing a clerk in a store that our credit cards were indeed valid for the US!! She wanted to know what currency we used in Canada ( wherever that was!) and wondered if it would be accepted in the US!! We could not believe our ears!! There appears to be an insularity in the US, which would be hard to find here, at least in the larger centres.

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This is such an interesting topic I loved reading all the posts.

 

Both my sons are going back in June to Pretoria, they are so unhappy here. Both of them are on anti-depressants (aged 19 and 20) they are not just shell shocked they're tired of the arrogance and the "do you also celebrate christmas"? quotes. I've tried to encourage them to educate as opposed to getting upset about the ridiculous questions. My eldest son said that friendship is just not important out here to people he comes across on a daily basis. He's gone from an incredibly confident young man to a complete loner who has lived the past 6 months working like a dog to save up his flight back home. I encouraged both of them to go home with their eyes wide open, its a two month trip where i'm hoping that they will learn something enough to bring them back and accept their new life here. I have also realized that should that not happen I may have to face the fact that my sons are happier at 'home'. Maybe its the part of the US we find ourselves in, I do know that everything I had been taught about the states prior to getting here is not what real life is all about. We plod on regardless

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So sorry to hear that you sons can't adjust to life in the USA. It must be

hard on all of you... But maybe they need the trip back "home" and who

knows once back they might just decide that it is much better over here.

 

I miss my family and (true) friends a lot, but I have adjusted to life in

America... I don't know if I want to go back to SA. I would love to go

back for a visit (yearly) but moving back permanently... I don't think so.

 

I have come across people of all ages/cultures/religions in this country and

most of them are truly interested in us and trying to help out where they

can - something I never experienced in South Africa.

 

I can understand that they long the "good old days", but they should

just keep in mind, that things have changed in South Africa as well and

it might not be as they remember it.

 

I know my life back "home" won't ever be the same... Most of my friends

have moved on allready - married with kids - and the "old times" just

won't surface again...

 

Best luck to them in their journey back to Africa... I hope they will find the

answers they are seeking.

 

:ilikeit:

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I'm sorry to hear that your boys are struggling Dee, while at the same time I am very impressed with your can-do attitude.

 

Yes ... sometimes you have to endure the silly questions and comments but remember ... "It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile" (Sting, Englishman in New York).

 

Perhaps as they move on to College / University ... and end up in a situation where it is easier to make friends, it will be better. It is not that Americans do not appreciate close friendships, they just relate to one another differently and value their privacy more because there is less time for yourself with this lifestyle.

 

Spokie is right, things have changed in SA, people move on, the old times will not resurface ... and perspectives on SA are different. I have been living abroad for about 8 years (5 of those in the USA). My first trip to SA was after 3 years away ... that was fun, but a little disconcerting. My last trip was after 7 years away and that was very surreal.

 

It takes time ... it gets better with time ... encourage them to hang in.

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Settling in is hard for all of us in different ways. One thing I am noticed though, and have been guilty of myself, is that when we are immigrants, we tend to "blame" everything on the immigrant experience. For example, " I had really good friendships in SA and I can't make them here". This is a valid point, but sometimes if we stop and think about it we may realise that some of those things may have happened in our lives ANYWAY , for different reasons, but we just assume that immigration has caused it... Life changes anyway and each phase of your life has new issues that come up...many of these things/issues would come up if we were still in SA but we would not debate and analyse them and think about them as much, we would just accept them and move on...

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Ek mis die huis... Ek mis die kaap ek mis die transvaal en ja meestal die pragtige mooi vrystaat...

 

Dis al wat ek sal se...

 

Cheers

Christian

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Die eerste vraag wat hulle gewoonlik vra is "Why aren't you black?"

 

Baie van hulle dink SA is naby Australiee. 'n Deelnemer aan "Who wants to be a Millionaire" het gedink die Boere oorlag was in Aus.

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