We've been living in the US for 10 years today!
After a long flight from Amsterdam, we touched down at San Francisco International Airport at 1.30 p.m. PST on September 5, 1996. I can hardly believe that 10 years have gone by. On the one hand it seems so long, but on the other hand it seems so short!
It was an emotional moment when we landed. This was the beginning of a new life with many uncertainties. There weren't any excited family members or even close friends to pick us up at the airport. I didn't have a job. All we had was the name and phone number of the hotel where we planned to stay. The Residence Inn in Foster City was to be the base from where we planned our new lives.
This photo was taken at an "End of Summer" barbeque at the Residence Inn in Foster City about 2 hours after arriving!
A lot has happened since that day. If you would like to read about our first 7 days, go to our family website. After 3 weeks we managed to find an apartment and I found a job. Things started to settle down. We made American friends, connected with other South Africans in the area, and fell in love with the beautiful SF Bay Area. However, life was expensive and rushed in San Francisco and after 2 years we moved to Texas. We have now been living in Lago Vista, TX for 8 years. Our kids go to local schools and play in local sports teams. I have held a variety of jobs, including the last one at the University of Texas. My wife is involved in the local school. Together we also run a website for South Africans in the Austin area.
We have been back to South Africa 3 times to visit our relatives, who all still live there. These visits have mostly been wonderful. We find it interesting to see each time how South Africa has changed from the previous visit.
A question that sometimes arises is, "will we ever go back to live in South Africa?" It's a tough question. It's always very nice to see our family. We miss them, and we know they miss us. However, it took a lot to get settled here and although the US has its problems, there's a lot about life in the US that we like and will certainly miss if we leave. If we go back, the first several months will be wonderful because we'll see the family often. But the honeymoon will end and then we'll be faced with the realities of life in South Africa. Those realities may very well cause us to regret leaving the US, and if that happens, it will be very difficult to come back to the US. So the answer is a solid "maybe".
In the mean time we will continue to enjoy life in the US, have fun with our American and South African friends, and visit our family in South Africa as often as we can!