After leaving Rochester Monday afternoon EST, I arrived in Singapore Wednesday morning (Tuesday night EST). It felt really good to return to a city that I know I love.
In the past 34 hours I have spent 6 sleeping and the rest either worrying about my life here or starting sort out said life. So far, I have a SIM card for my phone, a clean bill of health from the doctor, and an apartment! I’m getting the apartment keys on Monday, at which point I can begin to buy the many, many items that I will need. I didn’t realize that “fully furnished” in Singapore means “only furniture.” In Malaysia, it means literally everything. Had I chosen to do so, school would have paid to ship anything I wanted to Singapore. Had I known what fully furnished means, I would have shipped all of my kitchen items except appliances because the plugs don’t match. Unfortunately, I didn’t know and therefore have nothing.
Consequently, here’s another thing I have learned about teaching overseas: Assume nothing. Ask all questions, even when you think you know the answers.
Between Ikea, everyone’s favorite store, and Mustafa Centre, Singapore’s answer to “where can I find . . .” I’ll be able to buy everything I need without too much trouble. Well, I suppose there’s one trouble: Money. Singapore is expensive! As I’m not being paid until the end of August, I’m watching my purchases rather closely. School is bringing in people from a bank to set up accounts for us next week, after which they should be able to deposit the reimbursement for my flight here. That will make a great deal of difference.
Another strange aspect of living in Singapore, as with any big city, that I’ve never faced is complete reliance on public transportation. It’s going to be a challenge buying everything I need and will require multiple trips, basically because I can’t just dump everything in the car, drive home, and unload it. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the logistics of how much I can buy at once and how to get it all into my apartment. Taxi, I guess. Any urbanites have any advice for me on this one?
Finally, the biggest difficulty that I’m facing is being away from Mitch and from my family. I know myself, and I know that separation from the people I love, even for a predetermined period of time, is going to be a challenge. What helps, though, is the ease of modern communication. I know I’ve written about that before, but it really does make all the difference in the world. When I was in Malaysia, I called home every morning. Now, I’ll either be calling my parents or calling Mitch. Either way, it’s astonishing to me that for just a few dollars, we can talk whenever we want.
Tomorrow there’s a coffee meeting for all interested staff; I’m looking forward to meeting new people! A few of us had breakfast together and, as expected, people are really kind and really interesting. That’s what I love about travel – people have wonderful stories.