Thursday, 22 September 2016

18 Months In

At school I was quite good at science and got the pick of the biology, chemistry or physics.  I opted for biology and for a little while wanted to be a midwife but then I remembered it wasn’t all squishy babies and I hate blood.  From there I went down the english/arts/social subject’s route, so it came as a surprise when I had to write essays on the science of history and then did a MSc in librarianship.
I'm not a scientist but I thought I would use this blog post as an opportunity to do a little study…
18 months ago we moved to Devon, and 18 months before that we moved to Singapore.  I have now lived in Devon for as long as we were in Singapore, and that feels weird.  So here’s a little summary of life in Aberdeenshire, Singapore and Devon.
  • My home and I knew my way around easily
  • My house was a cottage in a valley with only one other house (until 1 month before the move when we stayed in 2 hotels and half a dozen different apartments!)
  • I knew and spoke Doric, could understand Scots, and knew a little Gaelic
  • I shopped at Aldi or co-op
  • I worked and met up monthly with a friend or had lunch with work colleagues
  • We rarely explored Aberdeenshire and took the majesty of the hills and glens for granted.  When we went on holiday we aimed for a hot location that was relaxing.
  • My understanding of the culture, history, law, most prominent religion and education system was very good. 
  • When we left I felt excited and was very ready for a new adventure.
the first snow of 2011

playing at the harbour in Cruden Bay
  • I knew each of the districts of Singapore and had visited them all
  • My house was a giant (by Singapore standards) black and white house with a manicured lawn in a expat area with a local celebrity down the road
  • I knew quite a lot of Singlish and Hokkien
  • I shopped at the CEX, local markets, fairprice and cold storage
  • I attended a monthly book group with the ANZA, weekly walking groups with the Dutch Association, helped with RDA every week, went to the markets or supermarkets, and out for drinks with friends.  I was a foster carer and volunteered with an animal charity too.  I also then became exceptionally good friends with someone (whilst Mark hit it off with her husband too) and we’d all hang out practically daily, going to craft shops, out for brunch, exploring and even on a cruise together.  From this list it’s pretty obvious I did not work!
  • I explored almost every day and had a list of holiday destinations I wanted to see further afield.  I slowly started to take Singapore for granted
  • My understanding of law was that there were lots of rules but I didn’t even bother to try to understand about government.  I knew a bit of history and chose to listen to audio sermon instead of attend a local Chinese Presbyterian church.  I knew what the expats did to send their kids to school.  I pretty much did nothing to integrate myself into society
  • Once we arrived I was so homesick for Aberdeen and constantly looked at house prices and jobs back there, but then I also felt devastated to leave Singapore and our great friends and life there.
Marina Bay

at the best seats in the house for the Grand Prix
  • I know my way around most of Tiverton, a little bit of Exeter, Honiton and Exmouth and still don’t know most towns around where we live.
  • My house is near a country park and looks out over neighbouring houses and rolling fields.
  • Not as many people speak in a ‘west country accent’ here as the amount of people that spoke Doric in Aberdeen, so that’s much easier.  However, if I do speak to someone who speaks like this I really have to listen.  I also love the advert for Cornwall ice cream that speaks Cornish throughout with no subtitles, but I do think local things should be celebrated.
  • I shop at Tesco and try to shop more at local markets and the butcher
  • Mark and I are active in our Church, and I'm also a member of the WI as well as its committee and all of its sub groups (meaning I'm out at least once a week with them), I fit this in around work.
  • We explore Devon at least twice a month (in the weekends) and visit new places every week.  We don’t take anywhere for granted and I’ve got a list of cities and villages I want to visit while in the south west.
  • I know general UK history but don’t really get the fascination with Stonehenge or the Romans.  I don’t even know if there are castles here, but there are certainly lots of ‘big houses’ we can visit with our national trust membership.  We go to a Methodist/Reformed church but its not the same (as Presbyterian obviously!) although everyone’s really nice.  I miss the ‘right of way’ I had in Scotland and I don’t understand the schooling system which is constantly in the news.  I try to integrate and want to settle here but there's no much that I don’t quite get or understand (however I do think I only feel this way because I am trying).
  • When we arrived in Exeter I started a job in less than a week, but I felt homesick for Aberdeen and Singapore.  I now feel Singapore would have changed so much if I went back and I don’t feel like I could go and visit anyone as everyone constantly moves on from there.  I’d not go back to visit to see any sights we missed (a couple of tiny islands close by), but I would spend a night there if I needed to whilst flying or cruising on to somewhere else.  I now love having the seasons again and feel that this is home.
the local market
mobile groceries