- What is your name?
Mishkah Van der Schyff
- What country were you born in?
Cape Town South Africa
- What job did you have in your home country?
After I graduated from UCT in 2014 it was quite difficult finding a job in SA so I moved to Doha where I became a flight attendant. I met my husband over there. And now we are living in Italy (my husbands home town)
- How long have you been living in your new country for?
I have been living in Italy for 8 months now
- Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids?
I moved with my husband and daughter when my daughter was only 2 months old.
- If you had immigrated with your kids, what were their ages when you immigrated and how did they adjust to the new environment?
She was too young to realize anything so she adjusted easily. It was more of a struggle for me as a first time mom, being away from all my friends, family and familiarity with a brand new baby.
- How are the schools in the new country?
The education system in Italy is very well structured. They start their school year in September and schools are mostly free unless you want to put your child in a private school. The school week is 6 days instead if 5, Monday-Saturday.
- What is your job in your new country?
When I lived in Doha I was a flight attendant for Qatar airways for 2 years. Since living in Italy I am a full time mom and a freelance Lash Artist in my free time. It’s difficult finding a job in Italy when you do not speak Italian so I did a beauty course as I found that the only way to work in a country where you don’t speak the language very well yet, is to go into the beauty service industry. It’s a service that involves very basic communication between the client and yourself.
- What do you enjoy about your new country?
Safety. Italy is a beautiful country yes but so is South Africa. So I won’t say I enjoy living in Italy because it’s beautiful, because I had beauty when I lived back in SA as well, but for me the best thing about Italy compared to SA is the safety. The serenity of not always living in fear and being on alert wherever you go.
- What do you miss the most about your home country?
I miss many things and it goes without saying of course that I miss my Family the most. Secondly, I miss Language, speaking in English. Communicating with people effortlessly. I miss my independence. Because I am unable to communicate very well on my own I rely on my husband for a lot of things as it’s his mother tongue. I miss my grandmothers malay food! I miss how cheap and affordable everything is in SA. I miss the laid back lifestyle of Capetonians.
- What advice would you give someone that is contemplating to immigrate to the country you have immigrated to?
Do your research very well before taking any big steps. Find a job and a place to live before making the big move.
- What challenges, if any, would you advise them to anticipate based on your experiences when you first moved to your new country?
Being an expat can be exciting and fun but also very hard at times. There are many challenges from small to big. Small challenges such as making new friends, figuring out where to buy groceries, the language barrier. In your native country, you just know things, how to get around, where things are, how to find them, who to contact etc. The biggest challenge for me is the difference in culture and the longing for my family. Missing birthdays, weddings and funerals are painful.
- What advice would you give them to overcome those challenges based on how you overcame them?
Overcoming your challenges will always be a work in progress. A day by day process especially for the first few years at least. It takes a long time to become well adjusted until you can confidently say you know your way around your new home country. it is important to make friends or have a local support system who can help you out when you need assistance/advice.
- How was the visa process for immigrating to your new country?
I initially came to Italy with a tourist visa and after a few days of being in Italy I applied for my spousal visa which I received after 1month. The visa process went smoothly because I am married to a Local.
- How is the cost of living in the new country compared to your home country?
It is much higher than SA. I took many things for granted when I was living in SA and one of those things were how cheap and affordable everything is.
- Anything else you would like to add, or any advice you would like to give to anyone that is contemplating moving to your new country?
Moving is challenging yet rewarding. Finding the best life for you and your family is the most important thing, with that being said of course sacrifices need to be made. In case it ever gets hard, and sometimes it will. Remind yourself why you left in the first place and for which reasons you are doing this. At the end of the day it is what you make of your situation.
You can follow Mishkah’s journey in Italy on her Instagram page here.
To read the other 8 articles in this Expat Series, you may visit our Blog Page.