17 October 2012


On occasion, people back in the U.S. ask about what it’s like to be an expat in Singapore. I advise that life is interesting and, though Singapore is a foreign country, it is a very modern country. English is the common language, which makes life a little easier, but we still have to decipher a world of accents. There have been adjustments in regards to living conditions, cost of living (and groceries and restaurants and clothes and everything else) and managing time. Making friends was difficult at first but, 18 months later, I know I am in a great place.

It took me a long time to make friends and it took me even longer to truly settle in to a solid group. Now I have many groups. I like it. I need people.

I was fortunate enough to have one set of friends from the moment Paul and I landed. Tiffany and her husband came from Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky and have decided to make Singapore their permanent home. They have been here something like five years and even had a child here last year. They were so kind to take us in, introduce us to the island and catch up on a regular basis just to be sure we were settling in. I could not be more thankful.

I do not remember how I found out about the American Women’s Association but I feel like someone told me about it while we were still in the U.S. I decided against joining right away because I refused to pay the membership fee for a three-month membership. I waited until the new fee year commenced before I attended my first event: Just Coffee – a great, non-threatening, non-scheduled, non-aggressive group that literally sits outside a Starbucks, drinks coffee and tea and just chats about anything and everything. How relaxing!

After my initial coffee date, I was convinced to join the organization. I thought that I would just join for a year and see what happened. If it wasn’t worth it, I did not have to renew.

So after more than a year in the organization, how do I describe AWA expat wife land? Two words: high school. Or maybe: college sorority since I have to pay for membership and then I have to pay to do everything else.

There are political wives who run for office, overachiever wives who get involved in absolutely everything and high-class wives who can afford to see and do everything they want whenever they want. There are the know-it-alls and the know-everyones. There are career-driven wives who focus more on work than having a good time, party-going wives who focus more on having a good time than anything else. And then there are the wives that I most relate to – in high school I referred to the group as “the B class” – friendly, fun-loving, interesting – a real balance of fun and seriousness. We are the popular group without all the drama.

While some women seem terrified to make strong friendships because of the possibility and likelihood of packing up and moving on quickly, my group takes advantage of turning short-term friends into life-long pals. After all, we really don’t know how long we will all be here, right?

With this group, I have enjoyed coffee sessions where a dozen and a half women sit outside a Starbucks and have a relaxing chat and story-swapping session, sailing lessons where we work together to get where we need to go and island tours like the one I took last week where we learned all about Singapore’s signature trades.

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