Saturday, September 30, 2006

When I left home at the age of 22 to study overseas, I left feeling I HAD to leave because I was neither wanted nor valued here. My academic achievments were worth less than nothing. At the age when my schoolmates were going to work with high expectations (it was the boom period of the late '80s), I was still the proud holder of only a rudimentary 'O' level cert, with the job prospects of a [insert whatever your mother lamented your fate would be when you got 97/100 marks here].

From the airport, I was determined to make a better life for myself out there. I had my ticket to ride and there was the possibility that, hey, maybe I would never have to come back again! Promises, promises.

I spent nearly 5 years living in a time zone exactly 12 hours apart from my point of origin, literally on the other side of the earth. And I'd be lying if I said I missed home. What was there to miss? Family? But I was independent, free, to go where I wanted, do what I liked, whenever I liked, buy whatever I wanted, with no one to answer to but myself. Food? I was surrounded by such a variety of food from all over the world, with way cooler places to eat it in too.

The grass in the park didn't induce itching, the weather didn't encourage sticky sweatiness (except in late summer), the people were friendlier and more used to seeing strangers than they are here. There were sports teams we could really root for and scream our lungs out for (go, Jays!!!), and when the Jays won 2 back-to-back championships in 92-93, I learned what pride really felt like. You get the idea. I never wanted it to end.

Today, I've been living back home for nearly 3 times the length of my stint overseas. Ironically, I've spent about half that time working with the social institution that caused me to leave in the first place: Education. Funny how life turns out.

Reflection prompted by today's ST article on the 'Singapore diaspora'.

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