Yes, I did it. I moved to the other side of the world. Six days ago I arrived in Singapore and since then I have found my own place, met different people, been exploring the city and been trying to adjust to the weather (read: going from airconditioning to sweating like crazy to airconditiong and repeat).
Lots of people have been asking me how things are going, so in this blog post I’ll put down a few of the things I have experienced/seen/heard so far.
My flight went smoothly. Singapore Airlines is definitely a fancy airline (free stuff!). Unfortunately wasn’t able to sleep much, so jetlag all over the place the next day, like almost falling asleep waiting for an appointment at my work and the same while waiting for my appointment at the hospital (see two paragraphs down).
So after checking in at my hostel, first thing on my to do list was a meeting at my soon-to-be workplace. They gave me a tour of the main location and I found it pretty impressive. The design is very modern and includes a lot of glass and mirrors. Oh, and of coure a lot of airconditioning as well (my thoughts: “hmm, I could use a jumper right now”)
Next I had to go to the hospital for a medical examination (final step for receiving my Employment Pass). Interestingly, they told me I had to go to the A&E (Accident and Emergency) wing of the hospital. Who would have thought I’d end up there so quickly.
From my experience of the medical exam, health care really does seem to be arranged quite well here. They helped me very quickly and efficiently (while I had not made an appointment beforehand). I was there for maybe half an hour, in which I had a blood test, a chest xray and a general consult with a doctor. The next morning the blood test results were in and I could pick up the paperwork already.
After this initial admin was done, it was time for me to start looking for my own place. While I enjoyed the company in the hostel (met some great people!), I couldn’t wait to actually be able to unpack all of my stuff and really settle down. So in the following two days I researched different rooms, eventually got an agent and viewed 5 different properties. It was the fourth room I viewed that I immediately was really excited about and consequently signed a contract for within two hours after viewing. It was basically everything I wanted (great room + landlady I seemed to be able to get along with well).
So that was my accommodation issue sorted: within three days I had found my own room. This left me with some time for real tourist and social undertakings. I had mainly been busy working on my tablet in the hostel getting stuff arranged (with a tv in the background that suprisingly often mentioned Louis van Gaal aka “LvG”), so now I could go out and explore a bit.
I went with two people from my hostel (my lovely new friend from India Antara and the dentist-in-training Alex) to the Singapore Zoo. While we had a lot of fun strolling around the park immitating monkeys, our visit ended with a rather upsetting event: While I leaned on a wooden armrest I by accident almost squashed some sort of catterpillar. Of course the (alleged) catterpillar was not too happy and it brushed its prickly hairs fiercely against my arm, leaving a stinging mark. I rushed off to the first aid helpers of the zoo and after assessing the situation they fortunately told me that I should probably be fine. Pfieuw, not another hospital visit.
The next day I visited Litte India, a closed Baba house and Harbourfront. At the last of these I got to enjoy some relaxing sea views for the first time here.
That same night Sarah (who is a cousin of one of my friends and who I had been in touch with before coming to Singapore already) showed me more of the city centre. We walked down Orchard Road (where you can find back-to-back shopping malls), went to see the Merlion (where we had some great views of the city by night) and went to Clarke Quay (where we had a nice dinner and good views of the river).
Then, Saturday it was time for me to move into my new room. Everything went smoothly and the landlady was very accommodating. She even offered to join me for grocery shopping with her car so I didn’t have to carry home loads of heavy bottles by myself. After having done this shopping together, I was home alone in the apartment. While I was enjoying unpacking by myself, my joy was abruptly ended when I suddenly came across a huge cockroach in the living room – the horror. I tried to kill it with some toilet paper, but that wasn’t the best idea. It ran quickly away from under the paper, leaving me screaming for a moment (sorry neighbours…). I was finally able to squash it with my diary and throw it away, Later I learned from the landlady they can come from the cupboard under the sink so I should leave that closed at all times. And of course earlier I hadn’t. Also she has a useful spray I can use in the future – less of a hassle.
After this I went to a large nearby shopping mall (which happens to be connected to the MRT/subway I have to take everyday) to get some final things like towels and clothes hangers. It took me a while to find everything (and not get lost all the time) but I managed alright.
My move-in day was completed by having a nice dinner with Navin, a friend from Oxford who is also now living in Singapore. I went to a foodcourt for the first time and, besides mistaking chopsticks for straws and eating noodles with a fork, I think I blended in quite well. I also tried some Durian (which for some people smells quite bad) for the first time and I didn’t hate it! Don’t want to say I loved it but it was good.
Finally, yesterday, my last day of freedom before starting the working life, I went to see the Gardens by the Bay, consisting of a manmade flowerdome and treegrove with a skywalk. I enjoyed this a lot and will definitely be visiting it again during my time in Singapore.
So that was sort of my first week in Singapore leading up to the start of my job today. But more about that job and my first experiences there later. For now, I hope that I gave a nice and clear summary of my first few days in Singapore and that I was able to give you some insight in my initial experiences as an expat in Singapore!