The Girl from New Zealand

I came to know NZgirl through this blog. NZgirl migrate to New Zealand not too long after I came to Perth. It is natural that frightened people huddle together and cry. With a blink of the eye, NZgirl and her husband would have spent almost 3 years in New Zealand. We only exchanged texts once or twice a year, just to find out if everyone was still alive. The couple had came a long way. Much longer, I suspect, than the couple actually realise it. It must be a torrid experience shivering in the mesmerizing terrain with no idea what to do and where to go. Still, like every migrant who wanted it hard enough, they managed to carve out some possibilities for themselves. I could still remember how excited NZgirl was when her husband found a job, and then linked herself into a job later on. She was just one of those people who you could feel a lot of energy from just her texts themselves.

Perhaps it is inevitable for migrants to compare the old and new lives we were having. After all, it is a natural thing to do and gauge whether the effort we put in was worth the trouble or not. As Singaporeans, one of our favourite weighing scales are the dollar and cents. It is too easy to forget how many of us lost our sense through the cents and how we receive an unlikely gift of an option to leave it all behind. That is why old habits die hard. Some of us are steadfast and had a clear sight right from the start. Many of us are not so sure. Take myself for example, I came to Perth with a see-see-look-look attitude. I didn't know a single thing about Perth and relied on hearsay before I came. Thus, I cannot say migration has been a childhood dream or something I have been planning all along. The whole decision making process leading to the move was a short final 2 years of my life in Singapore. On top of that, I still find it impossible to shake off my identity much as I wanted to. That does not mean I am unwilling to integrate with the Aussies or accept their culture as my own. These are separate issues. As far as I'm concerned, it may be possible to convince ourselves that we don't have anything to do with Singapore anymore. However, if we think we can exorcise our identities that is simply self-denial. Whenever I met ex-Singaporeans who declare themselves as Aussies, I look straight into their eyes and see little conviction. Like it or not, our identities are stamped deep into secret crevices of our DNA. There is little necessity in denying it. 

What makes it complex for some of us are our remaining links with Singapore. The strongest link is family. For some the strongest link can be the weakest link. From observation, the migrants with no surviving parents or on bad terms with their parents find it easier to put Singapore at the back of their minds. In contrast our children born overseas will hardly have a tinge of feel for Singapore, even though many are registered as Singaporeans. Those with existing good family ties will find it a dilemma between giving Singapore a second chance or letting it all go. NZgirl and husband will be having one, with parents nagging them to 'return home.'

When NZgirl told me they were seriously considering return to Singapore because 'prospects are better,' she caught me at a bad time as I was cooking. I held my spatula up in the air and yelled a "Nooooooooooooo!" that could be heard from New Zealand. I couldn't believe one could give up on what was painstakingly built up for the past few years. I supposed they hadn't gave up what was painstakingly built up for the past decades in the first place. If so, why leave in the first place?  To look-see around like me? Even so don't they like what they saw in New Zealand? Or are there nothing more important than the D/C scale?

I told NZgirl to give me her job and I'll move to New Zealand at the instance. She told me it was "non transferable." Folks returning to Singapore isn't unheard of. A better career or better education for kids are common reasons of doing so. Returning for the old folks wouldn't be surprising either, for I may do the same when my parents need me in their old age. But one thing I know for sure, the moment I am done with my duty, I'll be off again. My days away from Singapore has affirm that my physical body for a start, is already polar opposites from my homeland. Some called me cold blooded because I have been completely at ease during Winter time and whine like a woman during menopause during Summers. There is no business for me to be evaporating in Singapore. I also don't share Singapore's values or relish the break neck ever-competition arena. I'll rather lay a brick, fix a leak, plant a tree and live off my land, digging my own well or even grave, if necessary. 


  1. I'm not Sinkie. Not yet Aussie. Not sure what I am =D

    Still red passport and pink ic holder though. So I don't fuss too much about identity issues. I let bystanders be the judge even though they may be wrong. I've been declared by some of my classmates as "Aussie".

    Sounds nice but not quite there yet. It must be possible some day though. Just like the "ang mo" in sg who became quite naturalized Sinkies...


  2. > From observation, the migrants with no surviving parents or on bad terms with their parents find it easier to put Singapore at the back of their minds.

    I think so too.

    Each migrant has his/her own story of how/why he/she stay-on in their adopted country OR return to their country of origin. For many, it is not just the D/C scale (which Singaporeans often find easier to verbalize about), but also the social network (family, etc) and/or other reasons that are often not spoken of. It is hard for another person to grasp the full range of reasons that finally tilt the balance one way or another. The best we can do is to wish the other party well.

    E.g. My sister loved London when she was working/residing there, and she contemplated staying-on. But in the end, she chose to return to Singapore. I did not know much about Canada (other than what I gathered from my online research), but stayed on for 4+ years and have not paid a visit to Singapore since landing in here.

  3. It is not considered a failure if anyone returned back to origin after trying out their adopted country.

    But it says a lot about people when some migrants keep complaining about their adopted country even though nothing has really changed before and after they arrived.

    When challenged if they feel so strongly about it why don't they go back, there is some lame excuse given.

    The fact is, we come to Australia as the country adopts us and look after us. Some things that happens here is part and parcel of what makes it Aussie. If you don't like it, then start a movement and get other likeminded Aussies to change it (as is your right as a citizen) but don't just sit and complain and not lift a finger to do something about it.

    There is always a mismatch in expectations in employment opportunities and cost of living when you move from one country to another, just as some other migrant come to Singapore to work. Unless you actually worked here before applying for pr or citizen, most people simply have no idea. But it is a matter about the chicken or the egg, since there are few jobs that equalify for 457 visa and if your original job is not one of them, then it is almost certain that when you arrive as a migrant to Australia that it will not be easy to get a job matching your SG job you gave up, unless you organise one before you arrive.

    Better prospects for the children is often given as reason for coming to Australia, whereas better prospect for adults is the reason for going back. Surely after landing on foreign soil and studying locally for a few years, and then asking the children to the pressure cooker rat race back in SG makes it very unlikely the children can cope on their return.

    Remember we are talking about being marked for 100% attendance and doing crazy or meaning activities for points to justify MOEs vision for a so called well rounded education. And then every single person get private tuition even though their grades are good, which makes MOE think like wah Lao our teachers are so damn goo that they can cramp so much course work in less time than a generation ago.

    So, please don't use the local education system as the excuse for not being happy with Australia or NZ since they always been like that and if you do your research properly then you can't say you didn't know.

    1. > If you don't like it, then start a movement and get other likeminded Aussies to change it

      Agreed. I did just that in B.C., Canada, (see my comment in Gobbledegook's blog post) and was surprised by the resulting change in the system. It is one of the reasons why I felt more sense of ownership/belonging in Canada than in Singapore -- one can challenge the existing system legitimately without fear of reprisal.

    2. If you google for any special interest for weird things in Australia it is almost certain there will be a club or society for it in your state if not in your town.

      I used to think there are plenty of people who are Jia bao Boh sai pang (people with too much idle time) but now I think it is to generate a sense of community spirit and meeting people of likeminded thinking. Sometimes the mostly white groups end up having ethnic people joining, they are initially shocked but end up accepting these foreign born Aussie as their own.

      Plenty of volunteer group in Australia as well.

      Complain about the local school? Join the PTA thn, but this time it's really voluntary unlike what some parents have to do in SG to collect points to enrol their children

  4. Just a thought on the original article - it says that "Folks returning to Singapore isn't unheard of. A better career or better education for kids are common reasons of doing so". A better education - I do wonder how the education can be 'better' in Singapore when ultimately that degree/diploma can't get them jobs that people with qualifications from other obscure universities can......

  5. I am also one of those who will hv to think seriously about moving back to Singapore when time for making the decision comes at my footstep. I pray that this day will not come soon