Wanderlust of a Lawyer

Hey there!

I guess i'm one of the many others whom have emailed you after reading your blog seeking advice or encouragement so I'm really no different from any other Singaporean but I was just hoping to get in touch and hear from you perhaps.
My name is Charmaine and am a 25 year old Singaporean girl who is going to get called to the bar in August this year (hopefully!). I did my degree in the UK and have come a long way to finally be able to call myself a lawyer. as you may be aware, there is an overflowing of us here in SG. sadly. 
you could say i just went with the flow when it came to studying law. i did it in polytechnic and decided it would have been a waste to just be a paralegal and decided to pursue a degree. why didn't i study in Aussie? simple: no uni wanted me. it was in fact my first choice. all the uni agents told me flat out that i was wasting my time so i headed to the UK. 

i guess what i am trying to say is that i would have virtually no luck in landing a job as a solicitor in Australia. even if i were to take all the conversion tests and exams. but i imagine more importantly, i wouldn't want to be a solicitor in Australia. i'd always thought i would retire there. like a few relatives i know. 
did i take a useless degree? hardly. i'm better for it really. but my passion is not there. if i could do over, i'd be a vet or working with animals but i'm going off topic.

the only reason i'm contemplating moving in a couple of years time is because of my girlfriend. (yep, i'm gay not gonna lie)
she's Singaporean too and has journeyed on the exact same path as me. we're even training in the same law firm now.

she had plans to move from Singapore even when we were in UK. she wanted to stay there. but once again, no one would hire a 3rd world citizen (in the EU context) so back home we came. much to her disappointment. 
idk if at this point we'll consider going back to the UK or Canada doing whatever job eventually.
i have always been on the fence. its not about the money. doing law will definitely be financially prudent thing for me to do. 
no doubt my parents will violently object if i told them i want to move to Aussie. they have seen my uncle and aunt move to Melbourne and within months or so got retrenched without a job and with 2 kids there. i guess he had to take on a blue collar job that they looked down upon. so that memory has always been engrained in my mind.
it didn't help that one of my cousins eloped and married an Australian and is long gone. everyone was shocked and dare i say it, disappointed.
funnily enough, my parents didn't mind me staying in England. as long as it was doing solicitor work. tough luck.

either way, its not that i don't love law. i do really but its not forever. 
what i really hope to do (and most people laugh or look weird at me when i say this) is work with animals on a farm.
i would love to do that. but i'm not sure what kind of qualifications i would need to get there.
i'm hoping to get some experience with horses in SG first but i'm going in blind. i don't know where to begin and if anyone in Aussie would ever hire a Singaporean girl with no experience at all. 

either ways, the GF and i do plan to get married overseas and after that we're hoping to have kids. i doubt both of us want to do that in SG.
her brother is starting his uni in Melbourne next month and we do plan to visit. 
i was planning to head to Perth in march to visit relatives with my siblings but can't due to work. sad face.
either way, i guess i'm just dropping to say hi. and that you are really an inspiration. i mean don't say you are not because it's really how people see you!

I do hope to hear from you and your thoughts. 
big love,
charmaine lim



Hi Charm,


You aren't asking me how to elope on a horseback are you?


I'm not sure if it is a good idea to ask a blue-collared worker living in Australia for opinions. Let's hope your parents don't get to read this.


First, let me share with you my current situation. I want to buy a few acres of land, build a house on it, surrender myself to nature, learn to grow my own food and drink from my own water source. My dream is simple but it's the hardest thing to do in this modern era. Most of my Singaporean friends would think I have lost my mind if I share my goal with them. If you consider these Singaporeans have gone through their own migration journeys, each and every one being an inspiration in his or her own right and are generally more open minded than other Singaporeans to living a life far different from the way we have been molded to in Singapore, I am still considered an outcast in my ideologies. In short, you have to be regarded as insane long enough to become an inspiration.


The truth is, nothing can stop you from flying off to Australia in the next plane, sign up for a Veterinary degree, pay off your first semester, work your ass out during the holidays to finance your next semester, graduate and get a job injecting stuff into horses. Yet you couldn't because you wouldn't. What is stopping you from breaking the fences are the reins of life that bind you. You know what? We are all the same. If I am not bounded by circumstances, I would have quit my job, take up an apprenticeship as a tradie for a few years, work as a qualified tradie for someone else then work free lance eventually, all while I'm building up my farm. I wouldn't, because it will be tough to feed my family on an apprentice allowance. I also have to consider how to give my daughter fine education if I move my family to a rural region. My wife, being a social animal unlike me, will find it difficult to live far away from her social circle she has painstakingly built up these 3 years. Considering these, it seems easier to keep the dreams at bay and mope around. 


Millions of people fight and win their own battles every day. We create illusions of inspirations everywhere. Look at you. You didn't have it smooth on your long journey to become a lawyer. That itself, makes you an inspiration and an envy to many. There are thousands of Singaporeans who will kill to be in your shoes. Yet you are still bind by reins of life, invisible to the others, just like everyone else. Inspiration is an illusion.


You are half right. Everyone is indeed different. But not everyone is special. As a soon-to-be lawyer who want out even before you start work, someone who plan to have children in a gay marriage and rather tend to horses than to bitch around in court, clearly, Singapore is not your future. I don't need to elaborate on this. You know very well I am right. It is obvious, from what you generously shared with me, that your parents are going to have a big say in your bigger choices in later life and I am assuming that is going to stay this way, unless you plan to emulate the heroics of the missing cousin.


Therefore my advice is, pay your dues. Work. Earn as much money as you can. Save as much money as you can. Pay back your creditors if any. When your time for partial financial freedom comes, your reins of life will come loose. You may be able to pursue your aspirations by then. Your grueling working life in Singapore will also help you confirm how serious you take your dream. Eventually, you will get the cue to follow or dismiss your goals.


I don't know many Singapore ex-lawyers in Perth. There should be a good reason why. The obvious reason is their skills are probably not easily transferable, like you mentioned. It normally takes A LOT for a "normal" Singaporean "professional" to forgo his past career glories and take up a job "beneath him" in Australia, much less a lawyer. Forget about getting blessings from the lawyer's parents too. The only ex-lawyer I met in Perth disappeared and never reply my texts after the first meeting. It could be the food I cooked or my face. You can read about my account of her here. [link] Since I didn't have a good record with lawyers to start off with, I won't be too surprised if this is the last time I'll hear from you as well.


Good luck,


I wish you well in your journey.


Big big love,


asingaporeanson

9 comments:

  1. totally agree with what you said, Singaporeanson. Plan ahead, save and when the time is ripe, move. Be patient and good things come to those who wait.

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  2. I can't agree more with what is being said. For many of us, moving overseas and finding work require careful planning. Unless we are one of the few fortunate ones who can get a job transfer overseas and settle there directly.Otherwise, it's just staying focus and working toward our goals and making it a reality.

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  3. Although I migrated through careful planning and paying my dues, as a nurse I know life is unpredictable and short and there's no guarantee you'll be around to read this this time next week.

    If not now, when?

    Being a keen observer of the global economy and various trends affecting the world, it doesn't look very rosy in the years ahead. Once you get sucked in by work, by bills to pay, by the finer things in life money from work can buy, by being comfortable where you are, it gets very very difficult to move and change.

    If not now, when?

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  4. I was there couple of months ago for an activation trip, met some relatives and friends who some migrated decades ago some within a year, told them i would move end 2015. their response was why wait....pack up and come now. the struggles will not change now or six months from now. so just get a head start, dig in and prepare for the future.
    retool, retrain, relearn ..forget your current status and position. a new life and adventures

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  5. one can always involve in law relating to agriculture or animals so as to say. some even went into accounts tax law to put food on table. yes my housemate is a ex-lawyer

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  6. charmaine
    find out more about SWAN ie Singapore Western Australian Network; its president or ex-prez is a lawyer i think... he might be able to point out some 'lobang'. The advice to find work first is good and practical.
    Good luck.

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  7. She really disappeared? Must be your face lah.. @-)

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    1. Either his face or he asked the lawyer turned masseuse about happy endings...

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  8. > i guess he had to take on a blue collar job that they looked down upon. so that memory has always been engrained in my mind. ... one of my cousins eloped and married an Australian and is long gone. everyone was shocked and dare i say it, disappointed.

    Read the advice (addressed to gobbledegook) from a Singaporean who relocated to Toronto 2 years ago. E.g. His thought on migration, "Finding out that you need to really change - really, really change in order to not only survive, but also thrive. This change I'm talking about is fundamental - it goes down to questioning who we are, how we were brought up, what values and mental models we hold."
    http://wedecidedtomovetocanada.blogspot.ca/2015/01/a-virtual-friend.html

    > Per ASingaporeanSon: When your time for partial financial freedom comes, your reins of life will come loose.

    I suggest planning ahead, and doing your own (internet) research for farming opportunities overseas. E.g. Check out the International Rural Exchange program in Canada. The only obstacle based on your email above is the requirement that "Trainees should have at least two years of experience in farming in order to apply." But there are ways to get that 2 years of experience if you open your mind and are steadfast in your ultimate aim.
    http://www.irecanada.ca/#!discovercanada/c1hlu

    E.g. I read that there are (ex-)Singaporean farmers in Bolehland up north. Try dropping a comment on this farmer's blog below to see if he can help link you up to get some hands-on experience. I'm not saying that he can/will agree to help, but no harm asking.
    https://dotseng.wordpress.com/

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