Don’t you just love being part of a community? I feel like it’s the only sane way to thrive in this big world. In the blogging sphere, WordPress can be a great way to find your tribe and another groovy WP expat blogger is Heather from 2Summers.
Heather is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. She currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and has with no intention of leaving.
What I like about Heather is her photographs. They are unique and amazing. Plus she is so good about traveling around SA and getting to know the people, too. She’s a true expat, explorer and I admire her seemingly inexhaustable energy to share what is uniquely SA.
// What do you like (and/or don’t like) about living abroad?
For me, the best thing about living in South Africa is that I am perpetually a tourist here. Even though I’ve been living here for five years, and know more about the country (and specifically Joburg) than many locals, life still feels new and different to me. I think this is why my blog is successful – I’m half foreigner, half local, and people like reading about South Africa from that perspective.
There are many, many other things that I like and many, many things that I don’t like about life in Johannesburg. If I had to pick the top things that I don’t like about living here, it would be the terrible traffic and the difficulty obtaining visas/work permits.
// What do you find most different about living abroad?
It took me a while to get used to the fact that as long as I live in South Africa, the first thing people will always notice about me is that I’m American. The moment I open my mouth, that’s what people hear. This is usually a good thing because it makes people notice me and listen to me. But it can also be a bad thing because it’s hard to blend in.
// What do you miss about home (besides family and friends)?
American football! I’m a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan and there is just no replacement for that in South Africa. I’ve had to let go of my passion a bit because it’s nearly impossible to watch American football in South Africa. (My South African friends will disagree but rugby is nowhere near as interesting as football, in my opinion.) I also miss authentic Mexican food and Peppermint Patties.
// Is there something you feel you have gained since becoming an expat?
Yes. I’ve gained everything. I’ve discovered who I am and what I’m meant to do in life. Since moving to South Africa, I’ve become an artist and a photographer and accomplished things that I never dreamed I was capable of.
// What’s a day-in-the-life of you, look like?
The best thing about my life is that no two days are ever the same. Sometimes I spend the whole day at home, writing and blogging at my laptop. Some days I get up before sunrise to go to train at the Hillbrow Boxing Club, then go to a meeting, lunch with a friend, and a photography assignment. Some days I spend time exploring a new area of Joburg for a travel article or blog post. Lots of days I travel, usually to other places around South Africa but sometimes to other countries, too. Some days, like everyone else, I spend the day dealing with super-frustrating admin issues, or wasting time on Facebook.
Fortunately the cost of living in South Africa is relatively low so I can afford life without a 9-5 job. I could never do this back in Washington D.C., where I lived before moving here.
// Are there any expat or travel bloggers you particularly enjoy? Who? Why?
Two of my favorites are Barbara at the Dropout Diaries and Mark at Migrationology. I love Barbara’s honest, personal approach to writing and I really relate to her life story. I enjoy Mark’s blog simply because I love exotic food and I also love his writing style and photography.
Another favorite of mine is Sine at the Joburg Expat. Sine is actually not a Joburg expat any longer, as she and her family moved back to the United States a couple of years ago. But she’s kept the blog going and again, it’s Sine’s writing style that keeps me coming back. Her posts are honest, well written, and fun to read.
I read tons of local Joburg blogs too, but I don’t want to single any of them out because there are too many.
// What’s a question you wish interviewers would ask, but never have? (Then answer the question)
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I haven’t done enough interviews to properly answer that question. But I think that one important question for an interview like this is, “Why did you decide to move overseas?”
It’s a really hard question for me to answer so I can’t say that I wish interviewers would ask it, but I think it’s an important part of every expat/immigrant/migrant story.
My answer to that question is: I realized I was living the wrong life and I had to leave home to find the right one. My decision to leave was excruciatingly painful and I’m not proud of the way that part of the story unfolded. I left in a traumatic, ungraceful fashion and my actions hurt people who I cared about. I didn’t even really know why I was doing it at the time; I just knew I had to.
But thanks to that traumatizing decision, I’ve figured out who I am and where I belong. I’m really grateful for that.