Today, we have exclusively interviewed two XO Events consultants. Discover these two French girls who left their country to live halfway around the world… We met them in their office in Cape Town, South Africa, smiley, relaxed and happy to live in this region.
Sophie arrived in Cape Town 10 months ago and she confides in us her feelings about this country that she keeps on discovering every day. Laura arrived in Cape Town about 11 years ago, when she was still a child. She knows South Africa! And she shares her advice about this rich and varied cultural country that is sometimes not known by the public.
What was your motivation to come to South Africa and why did you choose to stay here?
Sophie: It was for a personal reason. I arrived in January with my partner. He had been transferred to Cape Town. So here we are!
Laura: I was 12 when I arrived here. I came with my mom to join my family who had settled in South Africa 25 years ago. I grew up in this region with friends and family. It’s for this reason that I chose to stay here. I fell in love with this country.
What were your prejudices about South Africa before you arrived?
S: Like lots of people, it was the insecurity in the everyday life that scared me. I didn’t know if I would be able to walk in the street alone without being attacked. Also, I thought I would arrive in a city where poverty is everywhere. (She laughs). I was far from the truth!
L: I came here several times on holiday to see my family, and I was a young girl so I didn’t have the same worries as adults. Despite that, I thought about the insecurity but also the racism. Finally, I realized that it’s the same all over the world.
How did your relatives react when you’ve told them about your departure?
S: (Imitating them) “But it is far from here!” (She laughs). It was the distance, which left worried them most. But they were really happy for me. For them, South Africa is a must-see! No doubt about it, my family was convinced that I was about to live an incredible experience! And they were right (She smiles).
L: (She laughs on her turn). My loved ones weren’t positive at all! For them, it was really far and that meant we wouldn’t be able to see each other a lot.
What was your first reaction when you arrived?
S: I had a positive reaction about 2 points. First, it was the colors: it was a lovely day and everything was brightly coloured. It was wonderful! I was surprised at the modernity of the infrastructure. I discovered a modern and contemporary city! The architecture and design are omnipresent.
L: I jumped into the swimming pool! (She laughs). I arrived in January. I moved from the French cold winter watching the TV all day to the South African summer! I remembered it was so warm! I spent my day playing outside! I was really happy! I still am (She smiles).
Does the country correspond to what you thought?
S: I didn’t think that it would be such a stylish and modern city. The first time I went to the hairdresser, I noticed how the welcome was warm and conscientious… The hairdresser offered me a cupcake! (She laughs) I’ve never had that in France! People are really welcoming and attentive. I can’t get over it. The life is nice here. There are lots of cultural and sportive activities. We are never bored on the weekend. And above all, I didn’t expect to have such a good food. Good quality and inexpensive are two adjectives that could describe the restaurants here.
L: I love South Africa. The rhythm life is quiet, especially in Cape Town or Durban. Joburg’ (Editor’s note: Joburg = Johannesburg) is more chic! Even if we can see a difference between rich and poor, people are welcoming and helpful. Without taking into account the fact that the landscapes are breathtaking.
Give us 3 words that represent South Africa.
S: Size. It doesn’t look as though it is, but South Africa is really big! Nature. It is green and there are flowers everywhere. During spring time the region is beautiful. Good value for money. (She laughs) I know it is not one word but it is the reality. We have good offers for affordable prices!
L: Friendly for the people, chilled for the atmosphere and diversity for both the landscapes and the mixture of cultures.
Do you have any advice for the people who want to visit South Africa?
S: When you prepare your travel, don’t forget to check the distance because it is really big!
L: In some parts of the country, we can get the 4 seasons in one day! Cloudy in the morning followed by a shower, sunny and scorching in the afternoon and a chilly evening… Yes it is possible! So take a dress but don’t forget your jumper!
Interview by Aurélie Jammes
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