My Singapore transition strategy is to keep preconceived notions and expectations to a minimum. So, I can experience the adventure of joyfully discovering, instead of being disappointed with unmet expectations. Still that does not diminish the normal anxieties and awkwardness of transitioning abroad.
As a newbie who is “Fresh Of the Boeing,” I am taking it one at a time. Now that I feel more settled in my new flat, I want to explore the city. Depending on the moon phase, I enjoy a wide variety of activities from hiking, working out, lounging in the couch with a delicious book, and writing my novel with my other writer friends. I also like to go out in the city and do city things like salsa dancing, concerts, theatre, restaurants, movies, and so on. Since I am in Singapore, a significantly larger city than Portland, there is a lot to do. The question now is: where to go and with whom?
In Portland, every weekend would be spent at some event, a friend’s house, salsa dancing, or hiking. It’s only a matter of time. During the first weeks of Singapore, I hated not having any plans on a Friday night. That’s when I have to keep reminding myself that I am still brand new. Yet, I feared awkwardness, loneliness, or not having a group of friends. It’s the typical fears of moving to a new place that any sane person would experience. I love my coworkers and workplace. Everyone has been hospitable, friendly, and welcoming. Even the smallest gestures of kindness make a huge difference.
Sometime back, I went to see La Traviata put on by Singapore Lyric Opera. One of my coworkers had a small role in the performance. It has been years since I saw an opera. Oddly, I find operas more enjoyable than musicals. It was what I expected because I was familiar with Verdi’s style and the novels of Alexandre Dumas. I was confused in the second act though. It could be the bad translation rather than the blocking of the play. Later, Kelly and I walked through Marina Bay and admired the gorgeous views at night. We sat at a nice restaurant by the bay with dim sum and a drink. I felt cheesy ordering a Singapore Sling in Singapore, so I didn’t. I got a house margarita instead. We sat and chatted for hours.
My goal is to socialize with people outside of my workplace, and also get out of the expat bubble. I want to mingle with local Singaporeans and people of all nationalities. As a multicultural city, Singapore, gives ample opportunities to meet people from many walks of life. I honestly don’t see the point of sticking to the American expat bubble or Indian subculture bubble. Why segregate yourself? Since, I’m Indian-American, I don’t fully fit in either. I am truly a coconut—the fruit that has a different color on the outside than the inside flesh.
I found a writers group in Singapore. That’s where we eat, hang out, and share our writing. I went to two writer gatherings already. It felt like a UN meeting, because I am meeting people from all over the world such as other Americans, Canadians, Australians, Indians, British, Vietnamese, Koreans, Malaysians, and Singaporeans. The writings are interesting because I am afforded the opportunity to hear different stories and perspectives. I am meeting other newcomers (aka FOBS) to Singapore too.
Yesterday, I went to a social gathering or a mixer with people I don’t know. It’s fun to throw myself in situations like this and get to know people. Being naturally extroverted, I like big gatherings and can usually find someone to talk to. Even if we just chit-chatted or talked nonsense that time and didn’t see each other again, it’s a good time for me. I tend to like newness and trying new things for the experience of it. Almost everyone I talked to told me about their travel stories.
Throwing yourself out there has its awkwardness. I need to improve in the area of intentionally going out and making plans. It feels awkward because of: 1. not wanting to be the only person who organizes all the social things, resulting in everyone else expecting me to do it all and not pitch in; 2. of the self-consciousness of appearing desperate or lonely; 3. fear of rejection; and 4. my own tendency to expect others to invite me because I’m not well-organized at making plans. I need to get better at it myself.
I feel that I am transitioning well. The strategy of not expecting too much upfront is working well. My new life is a journey that I am excited to discover. I take pleasure in the simple things. I laugh at silly mishaps and flops. I am excited and looking forward to more good times ahead.