Sometimes I get the impression that people think we are crazy for leaving all that we are familiar with for a life abroad but we aren't the only ones who have chosen this lifestyle. In fact, there are a lot of us and many of us blog about it. Expatriated is a series to introduce you to other expat bloggers.
If you have been around this blog for awhile, you met my friend Jeanie last year. Jeanie is a real-life friend of mine (as opposed to those I've met in blogland) and she is one of the coolest people I know. I have envied her jet-setting lifestyle in Asia the last 2 years and I was so happy that we got to visit her in her adopted home. In the past couple of years she has visited Thailand, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong just to name a few and while I'm slowly trying to convert her to my kind of traveling (the kind that uses suitcases with wheels) she is adventurous and much braver than I will ever be.
So, meet Jeanie (if you haven't already!)
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up on a farm outside a tiny town in Alberta, Canada. This town itself has a name although it cannot boast about stop lights, fast food restaurants, street names or two lanes of traffic. Cleardale, Alberta may not have a lot of things but it does have my heart! I currently live in Singapore, Singapore. It's a country, a city of five million and an island just off the tip of the Peninsular Malaysia.
How did you end up in Singapore and what inspired you to make the move?
I'm a teacher. I'm an adventurist (as long as it doesn't involve me getting hurt in anyway.) I'm addicted to travel. I's got the wander lust. I can't stop myself...I just do these things!
What is the best part of living overseas?
Travel. Full stop. In the last two years I have almost doubled the countries that I have been to in my life. It is especially easy to travel in South East Asia from Singapore. Changi International Airport is a twenty minute cab ride from my condo and I can literally reach ten different countries within a four hour flight. Thailand for the weekend. Hong Kong for a conference. Got a few extra days? Go to Bali!
What do you miss most about home (besides friends & family?)
I miss the comfort foods of home.
Beef stew, twizzlers, cheezies and my Dad's gluten free waffles.
Mmmm...turkey with all the trimmings!
Bud Light Lime (don't judge me!)
Clamato (I know you feel my love here Jay)
Baked Potatoes with sour cream
What was the most difficult thing to adjust to in Singapore?
1. The HEAT! Going from a subarctic climate to a tropical steam bath was a bit hard to take.
2. Finding new friends in a city with a huge expat community wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I was pretty lonely and homesick for the first couple of months.
3. I really missed (and still miss) my car.
4. Fresh air! I love the crisp feel of a spring breeze. A refreshing gust in Singapore usually means you have walked past 7-11 and you catch a drift from the air con!
Any funny 'whoopsies' while adjusting to your new life?
I hopped in a taxi during my first week and said, "Take me to IKEA!" The Singaporean accent pronounces it more like Icky-yah, so the poor guy had no idea what I was talking about. By the time I got there (45 minutes and 35$ later) he dropped off in the middle of what looked to be the busiest IKEA in the world. There were literally thousands of people. I ended up buying coasters and an iron; I was so overwhelmed with the people, the noise, the loooooong line ups, the exchange rate and the lack of swedish meatballs. I thought IKEA would be a safe and familiar place to purchase a few household necessities. Wrong. The whole trip cost me about 100$ in taxi fares and four hours of my life.
My condo pool, nuff said.
What is the biggest lesson you've learned from your time in Singapore?
I've realized how much I love and care about my family. Although, I also have a new found independence as well (imagine that...me...more independent? I know my Mother is laughing right now.) It's like being far away makes me appreciate people at home more, but I also know I can lead a fulfilling life abroad. It's a very strange dichotomy to be faced with. I struggle with feeling elated about it...and then guilty.
If you had the chance to move elsewhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Jeez, these questions are hard. I'm kind of a sucker for English speaking nations...so that cuts down my choices a lot. Sydney? New York City? Hong Kong? Those are all cities that while visiting I thought to myself "I could live here!"
Any advice for the newly expatriated?
Hang in there, the first 6 months are the worst!
Thank you so much Jeanie!
Jeanie is leaving Singapore this year and after spending a few weeks in Australia, will be returning home to Canada. I'm trying to convince her that there are plenty of teaching jobs at International Schools in Europe - I'd love to have her closer. (Good friends are hard to come by and she's one of the best!)
You can check out some of Jeanie's travels here.