Ni Hao From Singapore!
Hello friends from Mystic and Stonington. I grew up in Mystic and went to Stonington High School. After living in Boston, London, New York City and Chicago for years, I now am living in Singapore—a long, long way from home. I will be sharing my experiences from the other side of the world in this blog and hope you enjoy reading about my adventures here.
First, how we got here: My husband is a stock options trader from Chicago, which is kind of the home of future and options. Six months after we were married he was offered a gig to run the company’s Singapore office. Without hesitation, we said YES! We moved here in January of 2012. We just had our first baby, Georgia Grace, here and I am currently a housewife and stay-at-home Mommy (and out-of-work writer). I was a journalist for 20 years, with my longest stint of 17 years in Chicago, although I spent three years writing and editing at “one of those” regional newspapers in your area.
So where exactly is Singapore? Literally the other side of the world from Southeastern Connecticut: 9,460 miles. (The longest flight you can take on plane—about 20 hours-- goes from Newark, N.J., to Singapore) We are a full 12-hours ahead of the EST. Singapore is a small island of about 270 square miles off the southern tip of Malaysia. I can also see Indonesia from my balcony. This is considered a major city in Southeast Asia, with about 5.2 million people living here in the city-state. That’s right, it’s a city-state, meaning it’s one city as well as it’s own country. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT part of China, although the population is about 70% Chinese or of Chinese descent. They speak English here as a main language and yes, everyone speaks English. It is the only country in Asia that does so, although Mandarin is also spoken extensively. Both English and Mandarin are taught in schools, so many people from here speak both. The two other languages here are Malay, from those who are descendents or immigrants from Malaysia, and Tamil, an Indian dialect for that population of people here from the subcontinent.
As native English speakers from the U.S., my husband and I are what are considered “expats” or expatriots, meaning we are Westerners who live and work here in Singapore. Singapore is not only a major, top-five world financial center, but also features a massive shipping industry. Most of the products you see coming from mainland China, Japan or Korea—like electronics, cars and just about anything else you can think of (re:check your clothes label and toys) are shipped through Singapore. From our balcony we can see massive freighter ships in the deep-water port that surrounds the island. Many of the expats who live here work in either finance or shipping or the other fabulously wealthy field of oil and gas.
I have many stories to come about life here. It is exceptionally different, as one would expect. There is so much to learn and in nine months of living here I have accumulated quite a few interesting tales of life as an expat. Upcoming topics include: what is an expat housewife? (it is considered an actual “lifestyle” and I can’t believe there is not a reality show about it yet. Rest assured, if there is ever a show I will likely be on it. Small world here.), what happens when an air-raid siren goes off in the city, how to say “yes” in Singapore (it’s not Mandarin), how many high-end sports cars I see every day, and what is a Ghost Festival.
Oh and by the way, it is HOT here. Every day. It’s about 90+ degrees F and 90% humidity. No, it does not “cool down” at night. And because it is on the equator, yes it rains a lot, though there has never been a natural disaster here. I’ll write more about that later. And I’ll probably throw in a few foibles bout my baby Georgia Grace, who takes super cute photos, just to lighten things up a bit.
Well goodbye for now, or “bye bye,” as they say here in Singapore.