Moving from place to place sounds scary and exhilarating at the same time. At 20 years old, Tamsyn Booi has moved several times in her life. The first time was when she was 10 years old, and she came from Joburg to stay in Cape Town with her father. Her parents divorced when she was four; this was her first time having to live with her dad. It was scary because she left Cape Town as a baby and stayed with a man she barely knew.

She stayed in Cape Town until she was 16 years old; her paternal grandmother lived in Kimberly in the Northern Cape; she had no one to look after her, and the obvious choice was for Tamsyn to go look after her, which she did. She stayed there and moved back to Cape Town when she was 19. She never spent her teenage life in one place and as a young girl, that affected her quite a bit.

“I think you lose a sense of belonging; whether it’s the house, family, friends or even your personal belongings. I had to be in a new place and try to fit in with new people that spoke differently. I had to learn the language and the culture while adjusting to the changes I am going through as a young girl.” In each new area, Tamsyn had to adjust; adjust to the people, the food, the slang and even the weather. Now at 20, she feels content in Cape Town but has never felt Capetonian, and it hasn’t been long since she returned.

I can relate, having moved at least three times in my life. In Whittlesea, the weather hated me, I remember crying to my uncle because of how frozen my hands would get in the morning. In East London, the pollen hated me; I developed an allergy as soon as I arrived. I would sneeze and itch anywhere and everywhere to the point that my aunt would cut up clothes for me to use as tissue since actual tissue made me sneeze more. In Cape Town, I was hated by the water; I developed acne with big pimples and dark spots, so it’s safe to say moving wasn’t that cute.

Added to that was the fact that I was introverted. When I first arrived in Cape Town, I was scared to walk down the streets and no, not because of some tsotsis but because I had stage fright. The houses were so close together that I always felt people were looking at me, so walking down the road felt like a stage or runway. Like Tamsyn the slang and culture were also different than I was used to but the upside is that moving a lot has made us adjustable to any climate, any environment with any type of people.

Yes, I still suffer from street stage fright, acne, and allergies (moving may or may not have been the only contributing factor), while Tamsyn is now adjusting to varsity life. It always feels like your first step – every new move is the first step, but like a chameleon, you adjust to the new environment. You may feel exposed, but in the end, you adjust.


Tell us: Have you moved several times? What was it like for you?

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