American expat in Singapore. A career, friends, family, and place to call home–I gave up life as I knew it for the possibility of life as it could become. Five years later as a seasoned and serial expatriate, I've lived in four countries on three continents. So far, it's been a wonderful ride!
Is it just me or do things seem more carefree and breezy?
While it is true the last few days have offered a break in the clouds and an uncharacteristically cool wind flowing in and around this steamy island, I think the sensation I experience has nothing to do with weather.
After writing (and writing) to you about the doldrums I’ve had for the last several months, my heavy mood seems lighter in recent days. Suddenly, I feel comfortable, hopeful and, dare I say it, happier here in Singapore.
Why the change? The country hasn’t experienced any grand metamorphoses. For me, it continues to be a small, sterile island located a million miles away from it all. And every day, I still feel like a Granola girl in a Crunch Berry world. Nevertheless as I try to take a bite out of this life, I can honesty say I am having more “mmm” than “meh” moments.
Cereal analogy aside, do you know what I mean?
I look at today’s calendar and note the date–2 February 2012. Today marks exactly six months since my plane touched down at Changi airport. Before exiting the terminal, I placed my thumb on the scanner reserved for citizens and permanent residents for the very first time. After reading my fingerprint, it flashed the following words on its screen:
“Welcome home, Diana Mahmoud.”
Home? Even though it was a lovely sentiment coming from a cold, hard (but extremely convenient) machine, Singapore didn’t feel like home. At that time, I had no fond memories of the place, no favorite hangouts, and not a single person to call my friend. It’s amazing what time can do for perspective. Today I already have a few really fond memories, favorite dining spots, friends, and folks, whom I hope will become friends.
That’s the magic of six months.
I can tell it’s not only me feeling the love like that a second trimester in Singapore brings. Within my group of friends and acquaintances, most of whom arrived around the same time, I sense a vibe. People walk with more of a spring in their step and not just trudging along. Faces show more signs of content instead of contempt. And nobody is complaining about the humidity like they once did.
At least it’s something.
In my case, part of the transformation also stems from a renewed sense of purpose. I realize, as my first English-speaking assignment, Singapore affords me good opportunity to hone my skills and abilities in a meaningful way. I’m finding ways to feel more productive as I work toward a goal. And even though I may not get the occasion to work while living here, I can certainly build a résumé and take important steps to ready myself for a time when I can. For this, I feel inspired.
Six months. It’s been enough time to create a comfortable life, battle the angst and anxiety of change, and emerge with a more buoyant perspective. All this time, my beef has’t been with Singapore. It’s been with me. And now that I’ve got that firmly settled, it’s time to carry on and make things happen.
Welcome home, Diana Mahmoud. Welcome home.