Ever wonder what it's like to be a teen expat living in Singapore? We got our lovely interns to share some of their life experiences on how they adjusted to life in Singapore...
Teenagers might spend a lot of time complaining, but we know that there are plenty of cool things to do in Singapore well worth leaving darkened bedrooms for. There’s sports clubs to join, plenty of volunteering activities, and even lazy days aplenty lounging by the poolside – and all of it just a bus ride or MRT station away! But not everything is sunshine and roses for teens. Those pesky hormones, for starters! Expat kids, especially, have a whole new level of teenage angst to contend with: Uprooting your life and moving to a new country is a tough gig, and tougher still when you have no say in the matter.
Find out from our lovely interns, Munique and Sohanaa, what life is really like here in Singapore as an expat teenager…
Life in Singapore as an expat teen
Munique, born in Malaysia, raised in Shanghai, and living in Singapore for almost a year, says…
“Teen angst and ‘the-whole-world-is-out-to-get-me’ attitude aside, we can all agree that our teen years are some of the most fundamental ones. We’ve already got enough to juggle on our asymmetrical, oddly-developing plates and sorting out our young, susceptible minds. Now add moving to the mix, and it feels like someone’s thrown a bucket of water in your face after dragging you through a waterfall.
Looking back to how I felt while glaring at my one-way ticket to Singapore just a few months ago, I never thought I’d be sitting here writing this. In hindsight, however, I can begrudgingly admit that everything turned out sort of…alright, I guess, just like Mum said – and that’s the closest I’ll get to accepting defeat.”
What’s it like living in Singapore
“Moving to Singapore, I was really forced from my comfort zone, but I picked up some newfound skills like being independent and self-sufficient. There are so many easily accessible things to do with friends in Singapore, especially since everything is just a stone’s throw away. I love spending a lazy day at Tanjong Beach Club or grabbing a snack at Project Acai after school.
Joining a sports club or doing volunteer work is also easy here, and information is readily available on all kinds of activities. All you really need is the drive to get up every morning and say, “Alright- let’s actually do something today.” (But let’s be real; when you’re going to school five days a week and cramming for exams, getting up never sounds fun.)”
How I had to adjust
“When we first moved here, I tried so hard to adopt my previous lifestyle and was pretty upset that I would have to find new friends. I liked my old ones just fine! It was pretty daunting worrying that it would take me at least seven years to find anyone I wanted to hang out with. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and, as my parents had annoyingly predicted, I had been worrying over nothing. Social media and technology make it easier than ever to stay connected to my circle of friends across the globe while also helping me to make trustworthy and brilliant new friends here.
So (finally): you don’t have to only call one place your home. The great thing about having your contacts list online is that there’s no need to delete old names to put in new ones. Just like your brain, the best thing about your heart is that it never gets filled up. You’ll continually find another spot to tuck away a good adventure or, even better, a friend that you can always keep close to you, no matter how far you stray.”
Munique is an aspiring black belt in procrastination who likes to think of herself as an on-the-edge risk-taker who has mastered the art of churning out homework mere minutes before the deadline. Although she has never seen her name on a souvenir keychain, she holds onto the hope that one day it will be written on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Moving to Singapore at the age of six didn’t seem like a big deal to me since I was young, and there were other pointless things occupying my mind. But it was scary and strange to be leaving a place like Mumbai and suddenly arriving in a smaller, cleaner and greener environment. Living in India, I was taught to always be aware of my surroundings, never to take candy from strangers, and to always go out with an adult. But as soon as I arrived here, everything was different.
My parents enrolled me in Tanglin Trust School, and every day was easy for my little, carefree seven-year-old self. The loud shrill of the school bell was probably my favourite sound (nowadays, I get nightmares of it not arriving at all). I’d eagerly hop off the 3 o’clock school bus and face plant onto my family’s large, brick-red couch to watch the latest ‘Jessie’ episode. Nothing really bothered me back then. I didn’t have to stress over homework or worry about when my next English essay deadline was. Life was effortless and simple.
Unfortunately, things don’t last forever. As the years flew by and I grew older, things weren’t as straightforward, and it’s been a rollercoaster ride over the years. But while things can be more superficial at times, and I certainly experience more pressure, I’ve grown as a person, made new friends and became more open-minded. I might find some things more difficult now, but living in Singapore has given me so many more opportunities than I would’ve received living in India.”
What’s it like living in Singapore
“If someone were to ask me to describe what living in Singapore is like in three words, I would say it’s safe, modern and convenient. Unlike Mumbai (or any city in India, for that matter), I can easily stroll down Orchard Road at night, knowing that I am in one of the safest cities in the world.
Convenience is also one of Singapore’s highs, like transport, which is super easy to get the hang of and, even better, accessible to everyone. I love that I can groggily wake up on a Sunday morning, take a quick bus or MRT ride to the nearest Starbucks for a coffee fix and catch up with friends.
Singapore is a great place to hang out despite its small size. Some weekends, if I fancy a change from heading over to SCAPE Underground or VivoCity, I enjoy meeting my friends for an adventure at MacRitchie, where we rent kayaks and row along the river. On the flip side of Singapore being such a small place, it does sometimes get difficult to think up new and exciting places to try! Luckily, my time here has definitely had more ups than downs though.”
Sohanaa enjoys spending her free time scrolling through Reddit r/no sleep while binge-eating a bag of cocoa crunch. Although she knows she needs to finish her math homework, she’d rather be reading Wattpad stories or staring at a wall wondering how long her loitering will last.
Like this story? What is/was your experience like as an expat teen in Singapore? Drop us a DM to [email protected]