Exactly one week ago from this second, my plane from Haneda, Tokyo landed at Changi airpot in Singapore. ‘Ugh, back to school, back to reality’, was my first thought as the plan cruised down the runway. But as time passed, as I got off the plane to see all the workers in the airport, as we lugged our 9 suitcases into a taxi, as we passed all of the familiar HDB’s, work buildings and malls that had surrounded me for the past 17 years, it hit me like a ton of bricks. In one year from that moment, I wouldn’t be going back to reality or familiarity, but I would be starting a new life. That was an interesting day for me. Not only was that the last time I would return to Singapore from a summer vacation, but it was also National Day as the nation celebrated it’s 51st birthday. While I was dreading the thought of getting back to the 6am grind, there was this weird sense of comfort. That comfort was a feeling I had never felt before. Yes, I feel comfortable back in California with Americans around me who share the same believes as me, and yes I feel comfort when I’m at my lake house in Japan with all of my American friends around me, but this was a different type of comfort. In that 30 minute taxi ride from the airport back to my apartment in downtown Singapore, I realized just how much this beautiful country I get to call home had influenced me and how it will always continue to influence me. It’s the little things that I have been learning to appreciate more. The old Chinese lady at the supermarket who yells the amount I owe at me until all the money is on the table, the taxi driver who doesn’t understand what I’m saying, then takes a wrong turn so I have to go all the way around again, or the smell of the local wet market. All of those things used to bother me or annoy me, but now all I want to do is to be able to be around that for the rest of my life.
It’s weird, the idea of only having one more year left in this little island. And while I am extremely excited to begin my new journey as a college students, there’s a part of me that never wants to leave high school. Not only has this little red dot influenced my life, but my school has shaped me into the person I will be for the rest of my life. Being able to attend a school for 12 years that thrives on diversity and cultural competence has make me as open to new cultures as I could ever be. The teachers who I’ve formed relationships with, who have taught me just as much outside of the classroom as they have in, the friends I’ve made who have come from all of the world and will be by my side for the rest of my life.
So while I look forward to watching Singapore grow another year older, I am also dreading the next national day. This place is my home and will be my sense of comfort for decades to come. I’ll be saying goodbye to this place in one year from now, but I know that won’t be the end. If I’ve learned anything from my 17 years in Singapore, it’s that you never know where you’ll end up. I will be beginning a new adventure, and will have a structure for four years, but after that, who knows where I’ll end up. Singapore, you might just pull me back in!!