Expat Interview: Partly Cloudy in Singapore
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Morwenna Lawson is an expat blogger living in Singapore with her husband and young son. Here, she tells Medibroker about the good and bad of expat life in Asia Lite.
Tell us about where you’re from and where you live now
I’m from London, UK, although my family is from Cornwall. I lived for one year in America when I was seven, I studied in the north of England from 19 to 22, but apart from that I am and have always been a Londoner.
I moved here in August 2012 with my husband and young son, who was then aged seven. Like so many expats, my husband saw a career opportunity and went for it. I’d already been a freelance writer for some time and was mainly being a mum, so the path was clear for us all to make an international move.
What’s your favourite part of the expat experience in Singapore?
We live an amazing exotic tropical existence where the travel opportunities are plentiful and the climate is extraordinary. It’s not always sunny and clement – we broil in the heat and burn in the sun, and in December we are soaked to the skin by the crazy monsoon storms. I never have to wear tights, though, which is just so nice.
Which aspects of moving were the most stressful for you?
My son found the move very hard, not wanting to leave his established set of friends and family in the UK. He couldn’t see the point of the move and didn’t enjoy his new school at all. Looking back, that was a very stressful time for us all. I wasn’t totally sold, either, and was often lonely and homesick, but I would have been far happier if my boy had been happy too.
What apprehensions did you have about moving to Singapore with a child? How does he like it?
See above. As soon as my son settled, life began to look up, but that took the best part of our first year.
What kind of school does your child go to in Singapore?
He goes to an international school, with a strong English slant. It opened a year ago and has been a real success. It’s academic, sporty and musical, and it keeps us all on our toes.
What is the healthcare like in Singapore? Any experiences so far? Do you have health insurance?
Healthcare is expensive here unless you have insurance through work. We have a prescribed list of clinics that we can attend, and they are mostly small local places. I’ve had mixed experiences; we recently moved apartments and our new local doctor is wonderful. I claim everything back on our insurance policy at the moment. Our last doctor was hugely expensive and we weren’t covered, so I’m very glad we’ve made the change.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of moving to Singapore?
Grab the chance with both hands. This is AsiaLite, so if you’re expecting hardcore jungle you are looking at the wrong bit of the globe. But if you want to sample the tropics in a safe and controlled way, then come on over. If you’re from the UK, Singapore is very far away from home, and that’s worth bearing in mind, because unless your friends and family can afford it, you won’t see them often. That might please some people, but it can be tricky for others. Despite being famous for its comforts, this is still SoutheastAsia and you can expect to find funny foods, strong accents and different shopping and banking experiences. Embrace it all – isn’t that what you’re here for?
Tell us about your blog, Partly Cloudy
I’m a fan of social networking but not everyone in my world feels the same, so when we moved out here I started partlycloudy as a way of keeping in touch with folks back home, and that is still its prime purpose. Many people in Singapore – and around the world – start up a blog to give them a home interest and make connections at the same time, but mine is not a networking site, it’s purely a diary. I tend to get the best reactions when I write emotive pieces that people can relate to. Current and newsy comments don’t hit the spot as much, for some reason, so I keep those for Twitter and Facebook. The site is becoming more and more a travel-log, and those posts seem to go down well. I’m so glad I’m writing it all down. One day this dream will be over and I know I’ll have the memories in a containable place; that will be important for me and for my son, too.
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