Survival Guide for new Saffas in the UK.

Survival Guide for new Saffas in the UK.

New to the UK!!
Well, we have put together an article of things we think might help new SAFFAS arriving in the UK. We asked a few South Africans on Social Media who had been living in the UK for some time how they learnt to mingle and survive in the UK. What became very clear was the importance of making peace with the fact that the people in the UK and Ireland are different to us, this is definitely not South Africa, nothing here will even remotely be like back home. 

If you are prepared for change then embrace it and mould with it, if you came here thinking you going teach people here how things are done… hahahaha Think again!!!!. I do hope after reading this article, it might help you in some small way to adapt and adjust to life in the UK. 

One person hit the nail on the head when saying this on Facebook - "just a tip for all the newbies to the UK. We (Saffas) "are" different. This is their country. So we fit into their lifestyles. When I first got here I moaned a lot about everything. A workmate said to me that he does not see a gun against my head forcing me to stay here, so stop moaning or go home. From that day I went with the flow and started actually loving the UK. There is so much to see and do in the United Kingdom.13 years later, I love the place.." 

Everything in the UK is available online, so get a good broadband deal, because you will definitely need it, you will find you spend a lot of time doing things online, shopping for food, clothes etc, to buying insurance online, paying for holidays online, comparing prices of cars, houses, etc. Its ALL online. 

The Government Services and departments are online, from renewing your driver's licence to applying for a NI (national Insurance) through to paying your road tax and even making Dr Appointments (if you desire) - yes its online. This is not just limited to your PC, all these services are accessible through a Smart phone as well. 

Social Media: Get on some sort of social media platform, even if you hate it, trust me on this.. you will need it and you will need it sooner than you think, missing home, family, friends all that stuff, it makes it so much better being on Social Media. There are many South African groups on Facebook from large areas South Africans in London right down to South Africans in your local area. Search for them online, they are everywhere, you may even start attending the events organised for South Africans around the country. Below you will find links to just some of the South African groups on Facebook, a lot of these group organise SA events. Please do not be afraid to ask for advice on the groups, you will be surprised at how many people are always willing to help and they have good advice to offer.

Saffa in the South group on Facebook.
Saffa Events Page on Facebook.
South Africans Immigrating to the UK on Facebook

Work: When looking for work, please educate yourself about the following first:

1. Data Protection Act – insure you know how to protect yourself, identity and your data.

2. Legal Interview questions e.g you can not be asked your age, sexual preference, address, Marital status, Children etc, find out what these are pls.

3. CV – Make sure your CV is according to the UK Standards. Do research on the interweb about CV templates.

4. Join the "SA looking for work in the UK" Facebook group - this is a very good group for support and advice.

Then, please be aware, you will apply for a job or a million jobs and only 10 of them will reply, do not worry about it, move on… it happens all the time.

Once you are in work, like one of the members on a Facebook group said "If u want someone to do something in a work situation sugar coat the way u ask".

Health and safety - you will get to learn about this very quickly, read as much as you can about it, it is everywhere - Personally, I do think it is a good thing to have.. yes, some of the rules and regulations are a bit silly.. but again, just educate yourself about it.

Next are some great advice tips from fellow SAFFAS living in the UK …. enjoy!!!!

    • "Sit back & observe, learn the culture & don't take things to heart. Someone might say something that you feel offended by, but the liklehood is thats not their intention & it probably doesn't mean the same here! Integrate, don't alienate!"
    • "Every now & then people will think you are making words up!!"
    • "Being a VERY 'fresh off the boat' - I'd advise all others to ask Facebook groups for info and help even BEFORE you think you're doing the right thing."
    • "Freecycle! All hail freecycle. Oh, and ikea is something to experience…"
    • "Bring an umbrella lol! No seriously, integrate yourself into the culture. There will be times when you feel homesick, but remember why you left SA. Make friends with the Brits. Once they get to know you, they are actually very friendly."
    • "Hey, you a'right" is not actually a question, but rather a greeting... I still answer "Good, thanks and you?" after 8yrs! Hahahaaa"
    • "Don't rush into anything. Ask questions of fellow ex pats. They have been through it so will give you the best advice. If all else fails .."
    • "Be humble, get your head out of your arse otherwise you'll get nowhere"
    • "A jumper is a jersey. Learn to fill your own petrol. When referring to money, quid is more commonly used than pound. A small shopping centre in a suburb is called a precinct."
    • "A robot is " traffic lights " a traffic circle is a " roundabout "..
    • "Don't bang on about how wonderful it Is in S.A. and how terrible it is in the U.K. if that's how you feel, what are you doing here?"
    • "Quit trying to convert everything to Rand as soon as possible - I know that's really difficult, but once you stop, you are acclimatising... And after 15 years I got told just the other day that I'm the only person they know who really wants to know how people are doing. 'you alright?' is something they say when they pass you by as a greeting and it doesn't require an answer."
    • "vasbyt, it will all be lekker one day"
    • "refer to your chosen country as HOME the moment you step off the plane and South Africa as South Africa. It will go a long way to making you settled. Get rid of all colloquialisms in your English and adopt English expressions very quickly, it makes you easier to be understood"
    • The one thing that us south Africans are, is very opinionated... And people do not like that and they also don't like being told the truth as it seems to hurt them.
    • EG: Us;
      your house roof is broken you need to fix it.
      UK; Listen Hun.. I think we need to start looking at alternatives for this issue.
      They like to sugar coat everything... WHY? get to the point. At work I get into a lot of trouble for saying things as it is " before you ask" yes I do provide solutions. anyway. Watch what other people do.. and you will see it is very different.. and do not forget... you have not had your Safety training yet to work with the pair of scissors ... so DONT pick them up. LOL
    • "My wife and I have been here just over three years so we have really settled. We tried to come here twice before but it wasn't the right time. Maybe we were TOO South African in mentality and culture so we just went back with our tails between our legs but we have now grown up and learnt to forget SA . Yes my heart was sore but South Africa is now just a memory to us. Our advice to you is to adapt to the UK ways and the UK culture, we did and found that life gets better and better. We always remember that the UK is a great nation and it does offer us saffas a better future then Zuma's South Africa does. My kids and grand kids came here 6 months after us and they all love it here. Note there are plenty of saffas here for chats and maybe a bring and braai so just keep in touch on FB, clubs, pubs and other links on FB."



NI Number:

Converting your Driver's license:

SA High Commission:

UK Visa & Immigration:


Written by: Adele Walker

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