By Nora Guevara
In January 2014 my husband tells me out of the blue that we have the opportunity to move from the Netherlands to China. About half a year and plenty of stressful paperwork later, we set foot in China not knowing the language, but full of excitement to explore the country beyond its stereotypes of cheap products and delicious food.
Only when we got there we knew what was awaiting us.
To make a long story short, Shanghai is one hell of a city, and I mean that quite literally. The sheer size of it, its vibe and energy overwhelm you the moment you enter the crowds; it is also very exhausting having to constantly ask yourself, “what will happen next?”, like a never ending roller-coaster of emotions.
The time spent in Shanghai was still tremendously rewarding and I wouldn’t change the experience because there were many good memories, but I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel some relief to have moved on. Besides, a part of Shanghai is still with us after the adoption of our dog Foxy, an adorable stray that we found roaming the streets of the city.
When we moved to Singapore, I tried not to have any great expectations, but instantly felt the connection to the city. As a matter of fact, in the short six months we have been here, I sense for the fist time in a long time, to have found a place that we can call home.
Whether it is the diversity of the cultures, the variety of foods or the broad range of parties from low-key house jams to upmarket bars, it is the safety and order in Singapore that give me a sense of calmness and belonging. I can picture myself planning long term!
There are so many perks to living on this island: firstly, well, living on an island and its convenient size; second, the tropical weather and lush plants that bloom in every corner of the city; thirdly, the mixing of so many people, races, languages and cultures. Also, with the numerous parks around the island, as an animal lover, seeing all the monkeys, squirrels, lizards and countless species living in Singapore adds to the joy of being here. We try to make use of all the outdoor activities as much as possible and bring along with us not only our four-legged companion Foxy, but sometimes also other dogs we temporarily foster.
As we aspire to reach the Colombian community in Singapore, I sometimes wonder how most of Asia seems to be off the radar for most Colombians because after having explored it, I guarantee it is worth your time to have a closer look.
While it may not be the most tourist-friendly of all places due to its small size and high prices, there are many different neighborhoods in Singapore with their own charm to explore. I would suggest to start where ever your feet take you, and you may end up in a place like Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, or Chinatown and in Little India, but rest assured it will be a unique experience. There are also plenty of nice places outside of the city center that provide a different vibe. Smell the scent of the plants in Botanical Gardens on an early morning, or stay over for lunch at Dempsey Hill on a lazy afternoon. Go for a run or a bike ride on East Coast Park with scenery of the ocean and the countless ships, or take ferry boat to the islands nearby: Batam, Bintan, or Palau Ubin, to name a few.
Although I never thought to be planning my goals and dreams in Asia, I am pleasantly surprised by the turn my life has taken. The advantages of living here are obvious, besides the languages, the food, the landscapes, what makes this country really special is the sheer volume of countless opportunities. In Singapore, our paths have crossed with incredible people and there are no other words left to say but: Thank you Singapore!