Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Things I have learnt by moving to Singapore

You know, moving countries is a good thing. It's good to be out of your comfort zone. It challenges your view of the world and your preconceptions and prejudices. It forces you to evaluate who you are and who you want to be. Arran, Aiden, Charlie and I have been in Singapore for about eight months now and while we have settled in, we also still feel new here.  It seemed like a good time to take stock and evaluate.

1. I'm not as tolerant as I thought I was.....
So it's one thing to spend a couple of weeks in a country on a holiday or business trip. It's another to immerse yourself for a longer period and try to create a life like what you knew at home (or not).  I think it's easy to be patient and easy to get along with, when you are in another place for a set time. I noticed that the first month here was great and then after that my patience stated to wear thin. Mainly with things that are easy when you are at home. Things that you take for granted, like knowing where the fuel station is and where the atm's are and being able to order a good takeaway coffee on the way to work. I was frustrated with lots of little things for, oh...about 5 months. I have definitely been snappy with staff at starbucks who bore the brunt of a whole lot of little annoyances. Ditto for Arran.

I still don't get a good coffee on the way to work. I have given up.

2. You can forget stuff and revert to old ways.....
One of the things I have learnt over my career is that relationships are at the core of being successful. To  build relationships one Senior Leader I work with has a hierarchy of communication. If you can talk face to face, do that. If not, phone is next best. Last resort is email. So I know this and generally try to follow this but after landing in Singapore I too often reverted to just sending emails. Not great when I'm trying to build relationships with our Senior Leaders. This problem was pointed out to me and I was grateful.

3. Things that are easy in one country become hard in another.....
When I moved to Sydney, driving and parking was a nightmare. I never knew the best lane to be in and parking was either stupid expensive or non existent. Driving in Singapore is relatively straightforward and parking is usually plentiful and easy. I have lots and lots of examples like this. Some things are harder in Singapore and some things are harder in Australia. I guess stuff works itself out.

4. Networks take a long time to build.....
When I moved to Sydney from Brisbane in 2001 I learnt this lesson. I wrote about networking here. It's still hard. Ugh! But on the positive side I have met some great people who become fast friends and work contacts.

5. It's hard to make friends as an adult.....
Making new friends in a new place seems a bit like dating. You meet someone at a networking event or a dinner or something and you want to invite the person to coffee or a cocktail. But what if they don't like you? What if they turn you down? The REJECTION!! What if they do accept, multiple times (like they actually like you) but never reciprocate? It's a bit like being 16 again except you are fatter with more wrinkles but better confidence.

6. Common sense is contextual.....
So things that make sense and seem sensible in your home are done differently in another country. So we all know this. We do. Until something happens that makes. no. sense. For example Singapore has sophisticated payment systems and finance technologies. And cheques are still common. What? Yes we have a cheque book. I have never had a cheque book. This is just a Singapore example but differences exist from country to country.  Who's to say what's right in one country is wrong in another? It's all right, I guess.

7. You get to learn new words.....
My favourite words in Singapore are "can" and "welcome". Can is the word for yes and it's said with quite a definite emphasis. I love it! When you get a can it's all good. "Welcome" is like "you're welcome" but with a lovely inflection. High and then low. Sassy and sweet. Least favourite word is "cannot". This is a very definite no. It's a no with absolutely no negotiation room. I don't know why I still argue with a cannot but I do with no good result.

So lots of good stuff to learn. What have you learnt over the past 8 months?

Lisa xx

1 comment:

  1. Sharing you experience in public about Moving to Singapore is a good thing. Most people that can read this article will have a clear mindset if they are planning to move to Singapore. Thank you for sharing!