I'm not one of those people who despise living in Singapore, in fact, I never thought that I would ever leave the country. I love the energy in this country, and I love how I know can get anything I need even at 3 in the morning. Singapore is so safe and everything moves so efficiently.. We can see a doctor in five minutes, get our computer fixed within the same day and buy food within a few blocks of our homes. Despite how people often criticise Singaporeans for being kiasu and unfriendly, I still feel that we are a bunch of nice people. In almost every train ride, I witness someone giving up their seats for other people who may need it more. Sure, we may not smile at every stranger who pass us, but that is superficial. Besides, no society is perfect. Plus, the recent passing of Lee Kuan Yew and the reactions from Singaporeans really surprised me. I never knew that we could all feel so strongly about one same thing.
In all its positives and the advantageous of being in Singapore, I don't think its suitable for me. Aside from the superficial reasons (hot and humid weather, flash floods, and human congestion on the MRT) , being in Singapore is not healthy for me, personally. Many others will agree with me when I saw that Singapore is an immensely stressful country to live in. People are put in a rat race that never seem to end. I may have just graduated from a local university, and while that may be a hugely significant achievement to some, I still get that uncomfortable nagging feeling inside that keeps trying to tell me "Nope, it just got started! (cue evil laugh muahaha-)". Because I know that the next step for me is to find a good paying job, if I am lucky, and continue to slog away just so that I can earn promotions and pay raises! It's like a never-ending competition against myself.. but for what? Just money?
I'm fearful of the kind of life that will commence once B and I get our jobs here. In Singapore, people typically work 10-6, which means that we will probably be able to get home the earliest at 7pm, before heading to bed at 10pm for another day's work awaits us. And I am being fairly optimistic. Where is the work-life balance that everyone talks about? I fear that I will not be able to spend time with B. I see all the other young couples starting their life together.. but not really together. It's really sad to see. (No time make baby even?!?!)
While money is not the most important thing to me, I appreciate that it is absolutely necessary in life. Let's be practical, how are we going to live happily without money? I don't need a luxurious life or branded goods but we need to pay our bills, pay our future childrens' school fees, get a car to move them and their grandparents around etc. Singapore is also not exactly the environment that I want my future children to grow up in. We have a world-class education system but maths and science (and the unconvincing art classes) are not all I want my children to learn!
Some say that I am worrying unnecessarily.. got my head too far into the future, perhaps.. but I do it because I don't want to be caught in my mid 30s thinking, "Shit, this is not the life I imagined myself living...". While academics are no doubt very important, I want my children to learn about the world outside of the classroom. I want them to learn about the value of being kind, the different types of plants and animals... discover their love for sports.. use their free time to work on something they love. All these seemingly random things are better than being stuck in a tuition centre on weekends. You can say that I wouldn't need to put them in a tuition centre but what happens when all the other kids are and they lag behind and feel crappy about being it? I don't want my children to be put in that rat race so early on and constantly feel that they must be better, or that they are not good enough. It's unhealthy. There is so much more to life!
From a more perhaps, selfish, perspective, I feel that being in Singapore does not allow me to live the life that I really desire. At the age of 23, I can't cook anything other than a simple fishball soup-thing. I can't tell the difference between most fishes packed in NTUC and I have a fear of touching raw meat. I want to be able to have the time to cook for people (because really, feeding people makes me happy) and learn how to make awesome dishes. How can I be a mummy who doesn't know how to cook, right?! But Singapore's hectic lifestyle would not allow me to do that after work everyday, at least, without a domestic helper, or "maid". And for many reasons, I do not want a maid because, for one, it always feels uncomfortable to me to have to dictate what another person should do and pay them such a meagre amount. Besides, I am perfectly fine doing lots of cleaning. The real issue here is time pressure.
I have already given up so many of the things I love to do -- I used to do art, paint and sew -- but because of the lack of time (as always), I can't do them anymore. I would love to be able to embark on little projects in my free time as a way to improve myself and learn new skills, same with cooking. I miss art so much sometimes that I just go online, look at paintings (in the midst of doing my uni weekly readings) and wonder if I will ever get to pick it up again. This concept of "no time" really scares me because it is able to take so much away from me! No time to spend with B, no time to see my future children, no time to relax... There is so much more to life and I don't want to speed past it, regret and waste any moment of it.
(picture taken April 2015 at Margaret River Chocolate Factory Swan Valley in Perth)
But what I do know, is that there will be work-life balance and much more opportunities for both B and I to expand our lives. I can foresee it to be challenging most definitely, but at the same time exciting and rewarding. The first few years will be tough but I believe that by working hard and persevering with our decision, we will be able to make it worthwhile. I am not clouded by images of an ideal life - that moving to Perth will suddenly make our lives perfect like being on an extended holiday, but I just think that it is a place that will provide us with the kind of intrinsically fulfilling life we are looking for :)
The slow pace, clear blue skies, clean and crisp air, decent pay... Ahh I just cannot wait! Of course, everything written here is solely my perspective. B has his own reasons but I am just thankful he gets me and agrees that being in Perth would be healthier for both of us. Most of my life, I have been someone who is very kan chiong... and recently, I feel that it is going way out of control. It would be nice to reconnect with my heart and the sane side of me again :)
(Sunsets in Perth are one of my favourite parts of the day!)
This is the first time I have ever done anything so so big and I'm so excited! Just keeping lots of faith that things with slowly work out! First thing to do now.. get more documents ready for the partner visa. *cross fingers and takes deep breath*