Migration in Three Movements: A Conversation with Cecilia

Introducing Cecilia Pereira (formerly Siebrits), a South African pianist and piano teacher living in Manchester, UK.

from South Africa

Could you describe where you are at this very moment?

I’m sitting at our desk ( that we bought from Ikea 2 weeks ago…go Ikea!!) in our bedroom. I’m listening to my husband Artur giving a piano lesson in the next room…it’s rather nice…

Tell us about your journey (this particular ‘intimate migration’)…

Lived in Cape Town SA from 1979 to 2007, except for one year that I went to Pretoria to study with a specific professor in music. Moved to Portugal in 2007 after marrying Artur…moved to be together and because I always dreamt about living in Europe. There was also not much of a work prospect in South Africa, seeing that I’m a classical music specialist. Then moved to Manchester with my husband in 2008, for him to do his postgraduate studies at the RNCM in Manchester. We have lived here ever since but we’re planning on moving to Spain in 2013, in our search for better quality of life.

What would you say were/are the challenges you face(d)?

Well, firstly, moving to Portugal was a big challenge in terms of language, culture, food and just being away from everyone and everything I knew and loved (except for Artur of course). In the end I think the language barrier and the cultural differences were the aspects that got to me the most.
Then moving to rainy grey Manchester with its share of spitting/drinking/foul-mouthed “mal-educated” weirdos…yes well, enough said!

to Portugal

What surprised you (about this move; about where you are now)?

I could not understand the English spoken by Mancunians, especially bus drivers. What a shock!

How have things changed for you (if at all?) during this process?

I now know where I’m going (in many ways) and don’t actually have to speak to the bus drivers anymore!:) Also got used to the “inboorlinge” [“natives”], the shouting at night by drunk young and old people, and what Artur calls the “koue bene” [“cold legs”], referring to the girls walking around wearing nothing more than a very tiny dress and a pair of high heels, in the heart of winter.

What do you miss about where you lived before (South Africa)?

My family and friends, sunshine, sea, lifestyle, lovely friendly people, fresh air, feeling of space, the mountains, the smell before and after the rain, the diversity.

to the UK

A question you’d like to ask other ‘intimate migrants’?

Do you ever really feel like you are truly at home in your new country?

{Thank you * Obrigada * Dankie, Cecilia!}