Interview with Magda Osiejewicz - A Polish expat living in Cape Town


Magda Osiejewicz is a young Polish who moved to Cape Town about 2 years ago to purse an exciting internship opportunity. While Magda misses food from home she enjoys the great lifestyle on offer in Cape Town. In her spare time, Magda enjoys sharing her experiences of life in Cape Town on her humourous blog, Biltong 101.

Find out more about life in Cape Town by looking at our Cape Town City Guide or reading more expat experiences of South Africa.

About you

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: I come from Poland.

Q: Where are you living now?
A:  I live in Cape Town, in Sea Point.

Q: When did you move to Cape Town?
A:  Nearly two years ago.

Q: Did you move to Cape Town with a spouse or children?
A:  No.

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A:  I was offered an interesting internship in South Africa. I currently work as a language tutor and translator.

About Cape Town

Q: What do you enjoy most about your Cape Town, how’s the quality of life?
A:  I love the fact that Cape Town is multicultural. I also enjoy the relaxed attitude towards life. The quality of life in Cape Town is comparable to that in Europe.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A:  Cape Town can be dangerous if someone doesn’t know it very well. There are certain areas which should be avoided and it’s not always safe at night. I miss Polish food and even though Cape Town offers a variety of cuisines I can’t find anything which reminds of my country of origin.

Q: Is the Cape Town safe? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
A: The city is relatively safe. Expats should avoid Cape Flats and townships. It’s not advisable to use public transport after 10 pm.
 
Q: How would you rate the public transport in Cape Town? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
A: Lack of a car is limiting but one can live without it. Public transport in Cape Town is underestimated, particularly by locals. Cape Town offers minibus taxis and buses. The airport shuttle service is worth recommending. The minibus taxis run every five minutes on their main routes and they are very affordable. There are also reliable buses.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare?
A:  I don’t have an opinion.

About living in Cape Town

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?
A:  The areas that are popular with young expats are Sea Point, De Waterkant, City Bowl and Oranjezicht.

Q: How do you rate the standard of housing in the city?
A:  The standard is high in most areas. Cockroaches, however, are a real nuisance.

Q: What’s the cost of living compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A:  Average rent is higher than in Poland. Food and clothes are cheaper though.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A:  People in Cape Town are very friendly but often unreliable when it comes to being on time for a meeting. I mix with both South Africans and other expats.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A:  It’s easy to meet new people but it takes a while before Capetonians will let you into their inner circle. The Jewish community is particularly exclusive.

About working here

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A:  No. Nevertheless, the immigration regulations are very strict and it’s not easy to extend one’s stay or change a permit without a good reason.

Q: What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work?
A: It’s quite difficult to get a decent job in Cape Town, without a work permit it’s nearly impossible.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A:  It differs significantly. In Cape Town people aren’t obsessed with their jobs and work is not the most important thing in their lives.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A:  No.

Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A:  I moved to Cape Town on my own.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A:  I don’t have children.

Q: What are the schools like, any particular suggestions?
A:  I don’t have children.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
A:  I’d like to discourage people from coming to the country and starting to look for work from here. They should try to organize everything from abroad. Employers are not willing to apply for work permits, very often an interview ends when they hear that a prospective employee doesn’t have one. 

~ Interviewed in March 2013

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