• 2Summers
  • 2Summers
Published on 2016-11-01 at 00:00 by Veedushi
My name is Heather Mason and I'm from Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. I've been living in Johannesburg, South Africa for the past six years and I write a blog, 2Summers.

When and how did you decide to move to South Africa?

I decided to move to South Africa in January 2010 and actually made the move eight months later. I came here to be with my South African boyfriend.

Is it complicated to settle down there?

I think moving to a new country is always at least somewhat complicated, and South Africa is no exception to that rule. Fortunately, there was no language barrier for me, but I did struggle with other things: obtaining a work visa, learning to drive a manual car on the left side of the road, figuring out how to get a bank account (which actually took me three years), etc. For me, most of the challenges were administrative in nature. I adapted to the culture almost right away.

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

I once spent five months living and working in London when I was 20 years old. Other than that, this is my first time living abroad.

What do you like the most about South Africa?

I love the people – in my experience, South Africans tend to be friendly, open-minded, and welcoming. I've found it very easy to make friends in Johannesburg. I love the cultural diversity, and the insane natural beauty of the country. I also love this city, Johannesburg, which gets a really bad rap but is actually one of the coolest cities in the world to live in.


How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with your home country?

I didn't have a huge problem with culture shock. But again, I struggled with driving on the opposite side of the road, and the stress of driving on roads with so many pedestrians (most of whom seem not to fear death). I had to learn quite a few new local words: for example, traffic lights here are called "robots". It also took me a while to adjust to the fact the American saying "the customer is always right" does not necessarily apply in South Africa.

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

Yes. American football, decent Tex-Mex food, absorbent paper towels, functioning bureaucracy and public transportation, affordable electronics. But none of those things are deal-breakers, of course, and there are just as many things about South Africa that I miss when I go home to the U.S.

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

Hmm, I've lived here for six years and I have far too many amazing memories to share here. I honestly don't know how to pick one! But I suppose being here on the day that Nelson Mandela died was extremely significant. For my best souvenir, I'd have to pick my rainbow beaded giraffe.

My worst experience, at least from a "first-world expat problem" perspective, was trying to get my car registered. I wrote a three-part blog series about that experience.

What does your typical day as an expat in South Africa look like?


I work as a freelance writer and photographer, and no day is ever the same. But here's one example of a day: I get up at 6 a.m. and drive to the Hillbrow Boxing Club for a morning workout. Come home, have coffee, check e-mails and Instagram, catch up on work and write a blog post. In the afternoon, go out an do something in the city – visit a friend's art gallery, go fabric-shopping at the Oriental Plaza, check out a new coffee shop that I want to blog about. Take pictures. Come home, have dinner, and hang out with my boyfriend and my cat. Go to bed early.

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

I started my blog in June 2010, in preparation for my move in August. Like most expat bloggers, I simply wanted to document my journey and possibly collect memories in case I decide to write a book someday (I still might write that book.). I was fortunate that my blog evolved into something much bigger, and I'm now seen as an expert on things to do in Joburg/South Africa and pursue blogging and social media almost full-time.

Did you make new friends with your blog?

Yes, many!

Why did you register on https://www.expat.com and what do you think of the website?

I have to admit I have no idea when I registered. But I think the site is great.

Which advice would you give to the other Expat.com members who would like to settle in South Africa?

Come with an open mind and open heart, and be prepared for some administrative headaches. It'll be worth it though, I promise.