Change is weird.
It messes with your head.
It feels like Singapore is changing again. You see, expats come and go all the time. Some go kicking and screaming, some are in the natural migration cycle of, it would seem, about 4 years.
Facebook groups (I recommend Real Singapore Expat Wives or Buy & Sell Singapore) are flooded with people needing someone to take over their internet contracts, funky apartment pictures are posted in the hope someone will take over the lease (this can help expats who only want a place for a short space of time), or household items and personal belongings are being sold (shipping costs can be extortionate!). FYI you really gotta have your fingers on the pulse for this stuff as I swear people are attached to these groups all day and by the time you get round to checking out the page, everything has gone! I’m still bruised from missing out on one amazing Chloe bag.
A contributing factor to expats leaving can be changing circumstances in the workplace. This happens across many industries, it’s cyclic. You hear about it a lot but now, it is becoming real. I can see friends empty desks, I have farewell emails and leaving do invites sitting in the inbox from friends in various industries. Some friends are not only leaving their companies but are also leaving the country. If you haven’t led an expat life, this is huge. You know how they say that moving house is one of the biggest and most stressful experiences of your life? Imagine doing that and moving countries at the same time! Potentially, to one you have never lived in before. This is where expats are seasoned at preparing to move to the next location. They research, look for the best place to live, understand and try to learn the language, check out the climate and even the currency. If they are returning to their native home, it’s the same process and although it may seem easier, even that has it’s ups and downs.
Watching your friends leave town can be an unsettling process. It means adjustments to your life as well. They suddenly aren’t there, things don’t feel the same, memories of going to certain places come flooding back and then this hollow feeling creeps in. Our nearest and dearest are back home in another country, so our friends here are like family. I am lucky to be amongst friends who are like-minded people sharing our lives abroad. It’s a peaceful, fun group devoid of arguments or rifts. Everyone accepts everyone for who they are and it’s wicked.
One of the family sadly left this week and has left a gaping hole. He is the first of the group to leave Singapore with his family for the next chapter of their life….sigh for us. Friday evening drinks at the regular haunt last night, felt strange. There was an unspoken sense that things felt different. He is of course still on WhatsApp and happy he is in the same time zone for the Euros instead of waking up at 3am to watch a game, how selfish (joking dude, well maybe not ha). Nonetheless we still miss him. But enough doom and gloom, this surely was an excuse for a party right? We are lucky to have an amazing event planner amongst us who arranged an awesome send off in style! My head however didn’t feel so awesome the next morning…
Friends can move on at any time in your life. The emotions are bizarre.
4 tips which may just help you out:
Throw them a going away party to make them feel special and add new memories to their experience. Good times and crazy friends = awesome memories!
Be appreciative of your friendships and memories. Be mindful of their feelings too, although you are sad they are leaving you, they will also be experiencing the feeling of change.
Adapt to the situation as they have made the decision to move. They are progressing on to the next stage of their lives and so must you! Use the time to readjust and allow yourself to be high-spirited.
Stay in touch with them as they haven’t vanished from the planet! It will take time to get used to them not being around but knowing they are only a text or a phone call away will help. And trust me, it will help them too.