“You’re so brave!” – this has been repeatedly said to me over the last 5 and a half years.
The first time was from a previous boss who has now become a dear friend of mine. For the sake of privacy I am calling her Vera (I am waiting for the backlash for this!). I can still hear the panic stricken voice down the phone because I had casually mentioned to her I was considering moving to Singapore…just like that! Of course it wasn’t just like that as many an evening was spent with my nearest and dearest discussing the pros and cons over copious bottles of Pinot Noir (I am a red wine fanatic, after all it is fruit right?!) however knowingly throughout the whole process I had already made my mind up that I was going! Just so you don’t think Vera went home and hung herself from her shower rod, she provided support in abundance and still does to this day on any decisions I am making 🙂
I had been travelling for nigh on 2 years with my company, lucky enough to spend lengthy amounts of time in some great locations including Amsterdam, Rhode Island and of course New York City! From that very moment I fell in love with the Big Apple and it’s the only place in the world where I am at my happiest…but more on that at a later date!
So, I return from these 2 years. I am back at my old desk, doing the same old commute…notice the word old! I had experienced such amazing cultures and cities, from both a personal and work perspective and I began to feel stale. I knew somehow I needed to move forward, I wanted to maximise living my life – I have always had a strong view that I only have one life, this is no dress rehearsal and I am going to live it! It was strange as I was experiencing a feeling of excitement, although I didn’t know what I was excited about (I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a nutter!). I wasn’t scared, it didn’t even enter my head and to this day I still don’t know why I wasn’t but I was determined I was going somewhere! Luckily, at the time my company had a great global footprint and after searching for many locations with roles to match my experience on the internal career website, I applied for a role in Singapore.
“You’re so brave!”…this time from family, friends and colleagues. All were extremely supportive (albeit creating an excuse for numerous leaving dos!!). However, there was much sadness, especially the airport farewell which was a total tear jerker! I can still see my close relatives waving me off with our tears enough to give the Hudson River a run for its money! It was a tough moment and thank god for WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook because without these I wouldn’t have been able to keep in touch with everyone to the point where I didn’t feel I was on the other side of the world so much!
So 1 month and 3 packed suitcases later I was on a BA flight to Singapore!
Even though I am Little Miss Positivity, moving countries is tough, it is a big deal and on retrospect I guess I was brave but not everyone finds it easy, including me at times. For anyone out there considering taking the plunge, I have 6 ‘heads-up’ tips on what kind of things to expect (from a female point of view and please bear in mind this relates to my move to Singapore!).
- You will have heartbroken family and friends – feelings of guilt and doubt will creep over you I won’t lie. You will miss events happening at home, your family get-togethers, your friends on a night out – I spent many a night in tears about this so I recommend giving Facebook/Insta/Twitter a break for a while when you first move!
- You feel like the new girl at school again – building a new circle of friends can be hard (especially if you don’t have kids) but I find work colleagues get you through that initially. There are so many things to do, many groups to join and when you are ready there are groups on Facebook with expats feeling exactly the same way so many ladies meet up regularly to make new friends
- Check out the local language – in Singapore we speak Singlish! This is Singapore’s unique brand of colloquial English. A simple example being, if someone asks would you like to grab lunch, your reply would be can-lah or cannot-lah (meaning yes I can or no I cannot, the ‘lah’ is added on to the end purely to complement the sentence but doesn’t actually have a meaning, similar to scouse in Liverpool!)
- All of a sudden you will miss Monster Munch, Warbutons crumpets, Blue Ribands, Jaffa cakes and Double Deckers (I don’t care what anyone says, chocolate tastes different here to the UK!)
- The fact you have a balcony and a pool in your condo puts you in a ‘posh’ bracket but don’t worry, that won’t become an issue when your friends and family come to visit, they will immediately get it!
- The time difference – you’re awake and your nearest and dearest are asleep! Hang in there, initially it is hard but you figure it out and remember you really are only a SMS/phone call/Skype/FaceTime away
I do have to add that all that said, moving abroad has been amazing, it has given me great independence and it has taught me what really matters in life. I have faced many fears, managed to overcome them and I still continue loving my life no matter where I am or what I am doing.
I look back at the journey and I think I just did it, to others it’s being brave.
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