Last 22nd February marked my first year of living in Singapore. I can’t believe it has been a year already. It seems like it was just yesterday. I still remember my last few days in Manila, and how sad I felt when the day came. I actually knew from the very start that at some point in my life I would be working and living in Singapore, or in another foreign country for that matter. With this, I am somehow prepared. Or so I thought.
I went to Singapore last year to retain my permanent residence, and also for work. I am actually no tourist to Singapore as I have been visiting the country since I was a kid because my father works here. But I realised, taking a short vacation and actually living in the country are two different things.
And because this is my first year, I will try to reflect everything in here that I have experienced (and still experiencing) and my realisations since living in Singapore.
1. Being responsible.
This is my first time being away from my family. Well, technically, I am still with my family that is my father, but still. You get my point. Anyway, I depended a lot on my mum, especially anything related to house chores. I am embarrassed to admit but I can’t cook (except anything labeled with ‘instant’ and fried); I haven’t operated a washing machine before, and yes, I have not done any laundry at all; I have not ironed my own clothes before; and most especially, I hate cleaning. But please don’t get me wrong, I am not a spoiled brat. I just have a mother who is kind enough to keep up with me despite my age (thanks, mum!).
Moving to Singapore changed everything. I have to step up and be responsible overnight because I know I cannot depend on my dad like the way I depended on my mum. And I did! All the things I mentioned, I am doing it now. Except for the cooking part–my dad cooks for me, but I am learning.
2. Meeting different people from different cultures and religion
Definitely when moving into another country, one will meet different people so different from you were used to. Singapore is a multiracial country. It is a melting pot for different races–Chinese, Malay, Indian, Caucasians, you name it!
At work, I noticed that people are usually grouped based on race. Well, I think it’s natural because a person would want to be friends with someone because they have similarities. In this case, it’s their race.
I work in the IT industry, and it is dominated usually by Indians. And it is very evident at my workplace. Indians and Filipinos are very different–the culture, religion, food, everything! Good thing I have colleagues who are welcoming, although I am “not one of them”. And also, I have to adjust my self so I can get along with them.
Before, for me, India = Taj Mahal, curry, and the 3 Idiots movie. LOL
They introduced me to their country and culture which are very interesting. And their food! At first I was really hesitant to try because I know all their food are spicy, and I cannot take spicy food. But I was wrong. They have Buttered Chicken, which is not spicy, and it is my favourite Indian food ever since.
3. Diverse food and cuisine
Speaking of food, as I have mentioned, Singapore is multiracial, and thus, food are very diverse. I love the food choices here because you can eat different food from different cuisines everyday. Hawker centres are your best friend.
But on my first few weeks here, I was hesitant to try and explore the food because I’m really not familiar with them. I was afraid I wouldn’t like them and waste my money, and because I am kinda picky with food. So every time I eat outside, I always end up ordering chicken rice.
But man, good thing I plucked up the courage and slowly tried different foods. Because if I didn’t, I would be missing out a lot (and I wouldn’t survive haha).
To name a few, my favourites are Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs soup), Ayam Panggang (Indonesian grilled chicken), barbecued chicken wings, and Nasi Lemak (coconut rice).
4. Singaporean traits
In the course of my stay here, I have noticed a lot of Singaporean traits which I really admire:
- Singaporeans are very disciplined. In the MRT, they queue properly, so boarding the trains always go smoothly.
- They are polite especially to the elders and disabled. Inside the trains, once they see an elderly, they will automatically get up and offer their seat, even though they are not sitting in the priority seats. Also, in the lifts, especially if it’s crowded, they would hold open the lift’s door until everyone comes out; and if you do it for them, they would happily say thank you as they go out.
- They respect each other’s religion. I think this is one of the main reasons why Singapore has maintained to being a multiracial and multi-religion country.
I’m quite sure there are a lot more. But the three above are the ones that are most distinct for me.
5. Plane ticket cost doesn’t matter as long as I get to visit home
Being away from my family, my boyfriend, and friends suck. And because I don’t have much friends here, I get homesick most of the time.
Before, I always ask my dad why he comes home often when he will just stay for like 5 days. Wouldn’t it be just a waste of money? Plane tickets are not cheap. Now I know the feeling.
That’s why, last August, just barely 6 months after I left, I visited home for the first time. I took advantage of the long weekend because of the SG50 celebrations. I was damn excited. I missed everyone so much. And just this month, I visited again. Even though those visits are short and plane tickets are expensive, they are all worth it. 🙂
6. LDR (long-distance relationship) is hard but it can work
This also marked my one year LDR with my boyfriend. Before I left, we’ve been dating for more than two years.
I have seen many couples whom I am friends with who broke up after the other left for another country, but I also know couples who are still going strong despite the distance. At first it was really hard, but as time passed by, we got used to it already. And it really just boils down on how both of you will handle it. It is still a relationship, therefore, even though you are not together physically, it takes effort, more effort than you’re used to actually, to make it work. We still fight and argue (a lot), like other couples do, but in this kind of setup, compromise from both parties are needed, or else it will fail.
But of course, we also have our happy moments too. And these moments are extra special. They are special because they don’t happen very often and you need to make most out of every moment. Moments like receiving a bouquet of flowers to apologise for an argument (seriously!), receiving a heartfelt letter and gifts for your birthday, and most especially, going the extra mile of visiting! My boyfriend visited me here two times–March and December.
Long distance relationship will definitely work, as long as both persons in the relationship wants it to make it work. That is what I realised.
7. My father is also my mother
Back in the Philippines, my mother is also my father. But moving here, I realised my father is also my mother. Confused? Haha.
Anyway, I am saying this because the way my mum takes care of me back home is also what my dad does. He cooks for me, he helps me buy my needs, he sometimes even does the laundry for me, and even fold my clothes! So I am very thankful that my dad is here with me, so I have adjusted here quite well and quite fast. Thank you, dad!
So, I think that’s about it. Living here in Singapore has been pleasant and wonderful for me, so far. I can say I’ve grown a bit mature, responsible, and definitely I have learnt many things. I have considered Singapore my home already. I really thank Singapore for all the opportunities. 🙂
For sure in the next years to come, I will come to realise and reflect on more things. And that’s for another blog post! Haha!