Call it (ex-)job hazard but I've been itching to write about this since 2006. Wanted to expand on an entry in 2006 but never got down to it.. Managed a little bit in 2008, but I want to add on.. So, with a few more years of credentials as a Singaporean (and time on my hands!), here I go!
There have been a number of polls and surveys about Singaporeans wanting to emigrate. Oft cited push factor is the high cost of living in Singapore. Putting aside the discussion of whether they are able to emigrate at all, I wonder what “home” means to them, if costs push them away. I mean, what about family and friends?
My definition of home has changed pre- and post-marriage. Before marriage, home could only mean Singapore; my family then didn’t feel like home to me. I felt at home everywhere outside my flat. I felt at home at Grams’ place, at Sito’s place. I even felt very at home at various prata spots with KLK! After marriage, home is where Sito is – we can make home anywhere so long as we are together, so Evanston is home now. But this is only temporary. We see our permanent home in Singapore. It is where both our tangible and intangible needs are met – Singapore is a great place to live in, and where our family and friends are. It is where we feel, well, most at home.
Besides being clean and green, Singapore is such a convenient place to live in. We are dotted with wet markets and supermarkets and eateries, with some running round the clock. There are bus stops in all the HDB areas (I can’t say the same for private residences buried deep in some estates but hey they have cars right?!) and the MRT station is no more than a bus ride away. I feel safe at any time of the day just about anywhere. I can wear anything I want any day without checking the weather. Sure, it can be hot, but I have survived 30 years in a second-floor three-room flat blocked by a school in front and flats behind with no aircon, i.e. it’s not that bad :)
I already gave my take on the general costs of living in Singapore and entertainment options in Singapore. To add on to the latter, I think company is very important. I’m really really missing prata nights with KLK now! That’s so fun (and yummy) it’s hardly boring! Which brings me to my next point..
We have great family (sans my immediate one) and friends in Singapore, amazing emotional support. Sure, with emails and Skype and if we feel rich, the phone, no one is ever too far. But the feeling is just a little different when you can’t really hang out..
So now we hope Sito gets a job back home after the MBA; the MBA job market in Singapore is limited. Otherwise, we can stay here for a while, close two eyes to all the bad things and just look at the two (just two!) good things:
a) Work-life balance – Back in my old job, I clocked the same number of hours as the consultants here but I was busy every moment while they spent a lot of time waiting for this and that since it’s one project at a time. Wtf?!
b) Far from my immediate family – really.
But Sito doesn't need work-life balance. Just me if I want to work here. And there are more things than my immediate family – like Sito's family, our friends, my cousins..
So we want to go home!! :)
Speaking of staying overseas, my little cousin Yan (ok, not so little la, littler than me by seven months!) is leaving for the UK to join her husband in mid May. Her home will be both Singapore and the UK soon. It seemed so surreal to move your whole life to somewhere else. This is also different from moving to other countries because of their job; the job can move but home is still Singapore. When you have two homes, it can get complicated..
Anyway, a friend posted this on Facebook, video taken by a Singaporean at Singapore Day in Shanghai. “Home” is hardly my favourite national song but my eyes got wet watching it.
My favourite national song is pretty old – “Five Stars Arising!” (! is mine) – and speaks of our beginning as a nation. In more recent years, I like Stefanie Sun’s “We Will Get There”, a tale of making it through adversities and a song I can never really sing properly cos I want to cry halfway!
The Mandarin version.
Yes, I love my country :) You can take me out of Singapore, but you can’t take Singapore out of me :)