So the last month has been one of the biggest whirlwinds months of my life! So busy I haven’t really had a spare moment to sit down and reflect upon what’s been occurring… but in short I have finsihed my year at NTU by sitting my 3 exams, I went on a 5D4N dive trip to Bali with 4 amazing guys, I have tried to complete my last to do list of things in Singapore, packed up all my belongings (there was a lot) and I am sat writing this in Manila airport in the Philippines while I wait for my connection to Palawan where I will be volunteering for the next 3 weeks.
Finishing NTU was very anticlimactic in the end since I really didn’t care that much about my exams, I have realised over this year that studying on a year abroad, although important, may cause your other experiences to suffer and this is such a once in a lifetime experience it’s not worth missing out on.
The only excitement in finishing came from the adrenaline rush form a ridiculous dive trip to Bali in the middle of exams. The most brilliant thing about it was the last minute booking and the fact I went with 4 of the guys from my lifesaving club so they were all taking exams which actually have a significant contribution to their degree marks! It was a yolo moment for everyone and it was so worth it.
I hadn’t ever dived in the sea since I was qualified in a quarry for my open water so I was so amazed the whole time I couldn’t get over it! The sea was so warm, I was diving in just a bikini as opposed to the two wet suits and gloves I wore in the UK, the visibility was about 25m instead of 5m and there were SO MANY FISHES!! It was completely unforgettable and I hope I might be able to squeeze in another dive before I go back to the UK in July.
My last to-do list in Singapore included a load of museums and some outings of which I managed to complete:
Old Ford Factory museum, the Lee Kong Chian Natural history museum at NUS, visit to the Kranji war memorial (pictured below) and the walk from Mount Faber on the Henderson wave bridge.
So I have now left Singapore, which was meant to be officially me leaving Singapore for the year but fate had other plans for me, and after what felt like a traumatic experience bouncing between embassy’s and visa offices I found out last Wednesday I could no longer apply for a Chinese visa from Singapore. So I went from having all my flights, accommodation booked for China to having no plan and no direction but a crazy 24 hours later and I changed plans to where I am now – The Philippines. The volunteering agency I am going with IVHQ were very helpful and gave me a list of other countries they could transfer my placement to and so this happened. It’s sort of a blessing in disguise because I am really not ready to leave Singapore officially.
I’ve started to realise that this whole year has completely changed my outlook on life and the world. Nothing seems fixed anymore and distance, although inconvenient, doesn’t have to mean anything. I have become especially close with a group of 3 other LGC people who are my little family of miss-fits, a multicultural clash of weirdos and I know that they are some of the people I will be friends with forever. Singapore is so much a home for me now that it feels like leaving the UK all over again – the separation from my (fuf) family, friends and a world I have become so comfortable in. The worst part is that although I want to see the UK again I don’t think I will ever be settled there, I think there is something about immersing yourself somewhere else and continually jumping out of your comfort zone so far that it becomes strangely normal that makes the world seem small and staying in one place seems a little monotonous.
It’s not that I don’t love my home and Exeter and all my friends and family but this is a concept very few people will be able to relate to I believe. I am not just sad about leaving Singapore and making my way back towards the UK, I am actually really scared about going home. I almost don’t want to go home because it means such a long distance and separation from everything that is now so familiar and yet still so exciting. I didn’t really experience culture shock when I came to Asia but I can see that the reverse culture shock is a much more serious reality for me. The idea no one/ or very few will be able to understand what I am going through only makes this whole experience more terrifying.
So although I am constantly off on different adventures with different people for the next 2 months I have a sense of foreboding in the back of my mind and a small part of me worried about going home. I’m moving out of Singapore but I can’t move on.