We’ve been living in Singapore since 7th July 2020 and I often get asked if I feel ‘settled’ here now. My answer is always yes. I feel very at home in Singapore and find travelling about very easy. We live extremely close to an MRT station which makes getting around simple. Transport is always on time and fast, we’re never waiting long for the train. I know if I go exploring by myself I can get home easily by finding an MRT station which relaxes my mind when I’m in a new place. Aside from the public transport convenience I also feel ‘settled’ in myself, to go out and do things alone.
I find I now enjoy the time to explore on my own and taking my own pace, take the time to go to the places our kids might not find that interesting!
I’ve made friends through my kids’ friends. Covid restrictions have meant that a cafè at their school is closed and we aren’t allowed to stay on site after drop off and pick up so I’ve made a point of exchanging numbers with a couple of people and meeting up in the week. I joked with a friend – it feels like I’m dating: going on a ‘first date’ for a lunch or walk in a new area, and then wondering if they’ll want to meet up again!
I found in the early weeks of living here I said yes to meeting up and doing things every day and found it was quite tiring. I felt like I was rushing around to fit everything in. I guess the excitement of new places took over. A few months on and we’ve made a new routine of work and school and I realised I don’t need to cram everything in as we live here now. I can take my time.
As I write this I’m sat in a cafè where there is a mix of friends and single diners. In Singapore it’s a familiar sight to see people eating on their own – perhaps on a lunch break, taking advantage of air con or having some down time before going home. Maybe I just never noticed it in the UK but I know I would have felt a bit self conscious on my own there. But not here. I’ll happily have lunch on my own and enjoy people watching or writing.
I think my confidence grew from our previous move within the UK, from a small sleepy village in Norfolk county to a more vibrant town in Surrey. It was a forced move after a job abroad fell through. I didn’t want to live in Surrey and didn’t know much about it. I had visited family who currently live there but never had a view to move. I found the first few months in Surrey difficult, as did the children. I realised I felt lonely. A feeling I hadn’t properly felt before. I had felt bored before on a day when I had nothing to do but not lonely. Even though I felt lonely I also felt uncomfortable introducing myself to someone new. I would feel it physically – high heart rate, sweating hands and sometimes going as far as feeling nauseous. My husband would encourage me to meet people, he’s the one in our relationship that was better at getting a conversation started, felt at ease with new people and even thrived on it. I wouldn’t say I was a shy person, once I’m over the initial few meetings I can relax.
I knew I needed to force myself to say hello to people at the school gates and invite people over or out for coffee. I think sometimes it’s not that people don’t want to be friendly but life can seem busy, dropping the kids to school then having to get to work, we get in our friendship bubbles and just miss actually noticing people.
After a few months in Surrey, I began to feel more settled into life. I had growing friendships which also meant I had something to do. I wasn’t working when we first moved but after a while a job came up at my children’s school as a Teaching Assistant and I went for it. I loved being back in a classroom and making friends at work where it seemed a bit easier as we already had a work connection and something in common as a base. We were very involved in our local church too where I was given opportunities to lead a group of volunteers which really pushed me towards a new comfort zone.
We’ve all seen those dreams vs reality pictures of failed cakes, dodgy-hotels-that-look-nothing-like-the-photos or people trying to re-enact an Instagram perfect family photo that ends up with nobody talking to each other by the end of the photo shoot. So far, for us, the dream of us living in Singapore is the reality. It’s all we wanted it to be and some more too! Maybe the ‘honey moon’ period will wear off, maybe it won’t, but we are glad we relocated. My new learnt confidence has also made it easier. I say learnt rather than found because I feel its been like learning something new. When talking to new people I’d make sure I had a few topics to ask or talk about, I’d jot down things in my phone diary after a conversation to help me remember an upcoming event in their life so I could ask about it the next time we met. For me this really helped and now I feel it comes more naturally.
Some advice if you’ve recently relocated or are planning too – put yourself out there. I know first hand that’s not easy!! I recently organised a walking tour of China Town for myself and some friends. Including someone I hadn’t met before. We had a lovely time and it felt good to connect people to each other who have also relocated. Doing something like a tour is a good way to have something to bond over too. There are plenty of online groups to join to find people with similar interests.
And if you have a ‘bad date’ – don’t worry about it. You’ll find your fit – it may just take a bit more time.
Ever found yourself in a similar situation? Got some tips for how to make friends? Know how to feel comfortable in new situations? Drop me a message or leave a comment below!
Have a look at what we’ve been up to since we relocated over at our vlog www.youtube.com/wonderlustworld
One thought on “Travelling Alone Doesn’t Have to be Lonely.”
Beautifully written and well expressed feelings of adjusting to the new. I would say don’t stop writing👍🏼