05 April 2012


Now that I have passed the one-year mark, I thought I might look back on my original observations, presumptions and misconceptions and see just what I have learned.

To start, I have to say that a year ago, I could hardly imagine what it would be like to sell most of our belongings, pack three suitcases and move across the world. Without travelling out of the country before, I did not know what to expect in the departing or arriving airports. I was not sure what our layover in Germany would be like. I had absolutely no idea how I would survive a seven-hour and a 14-hour flight because, if you remember, I wanted to shoot myself on a two-hour flight. And then there was that whole landing in a new country without an idea of what to do, where to live or just how far that one paycheck was going to stretch.

We thought that Asian people would stare at us because we had pale skin and I had blonde hair. We counted the white people and gave ourselves points until we went to Ikea and found where they were all hiding.

We went in search of what we thought was Chinese food only to find out that Chinese food is not the same as American Chinese food. Paul confirmed this with a taxi driver one day. He was in the back and somehow got to talking with the driver, who advised Paul that he used to live in Texas where he owned a Chinese restaurant. Jackpot! Paul thought. “Great. Then you can tell me – where can I find American Chinese food here?” Paul is a fan of the beef and broccoli and the sesame chicken add broccoli. The driver just laughed at him and explained that real Chinese food will not work for American tastes and American Chinese food cannot be found anywhere on this island. His heart broke as he sunk into the seat like a child told he could not have ice cream.

Speaking of ice cream, while I have yet to buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for $15 to $18 at the store, I have had a scoop or two at a scoop shop, and I have found other cheaper options. We had a neighborhood place called Udders – yes, Udders. Some of their ice cream has a weird texture and some of the names are a little suggestive like Horlicks Balls for example (Horlicks, by the way, is the British term for Whoppers), some of the ice cream is really good. We also have Cold Stone Creamery and a similar place called Marble Slab that Paul and I really like. Too bad Paul gave up sugar.

With regards to food and beverage shopping, our budget has at least tripled what it was in Columbus. I can spend someone’s mortgage payment at the grocery store on a given month. In the beginning, I was very dollar conscious but I quickly changed my approach. I just stopped looking at prices altogether. I planned meals, I bought what I needed to buy and when Paul asked how much something was, I responded with, “I don’t know.”

I used to cringe at paying a minimum of $18 for a bottle of wine but, when I want wine, I buy a bottle – just like I used to avoid Starbucks because a grande beverage will cost me $7.20 every time. I eventually got over that as well.

I remember that transportation was a bit tricky in the beginning. Without an employment pass, we were unable to obtain cell phones that had Google Maps. Finding my way around, especially without Paul was a challenge. It took several attempts and quite a few mistakes for me to make my way around the city but I now am confident I can find my way out of anywhere. The only issue I still have is walking – we still have not mastered where to walk without bumping into other people.

Though it seemed a bit improbable at the time, we survived our first day, found food – even in the rain – and waited three months to become legal. Now that it has been a year, my mind is wondering where we will be next year. We have an appointment to apply for permanent residency but Paul has made so many network contacts; he has opportunities coming out of the woodwork.

I wonder if we will be sharing residency in Hong Kong or if we will move to Australia. What about Dubai? Will Paul go back to an airline? Whether we end up staying in Singapore for the next decade or moving away again, I am excited for the year ahead and the possibilities that await us. Since we do not know our future or for certain how long we will be in Singapore, I am doing my best to continue reaching new heights, exploring new places and experiencing all that Singapore has to offer. 

No comments: