I have lived in Singapore for over 13 years now, it has become my home. My wife is Singaporean, my kids hold Singapore passports and her family is also based in Singapore.
However, I am not a Singaporean. And despite this being my home, I socially still tend to gravitate to people with the same cultural backgrounds as myself. Expat Brits, South Africans, Australians and sometimes even Europeans.
This is hardly a surprise, and as a direct result of moving to a different country, I have been forced to take an actively social approach to life.
In a foreign land you cannot simply lean on your old relationships, you have to forge new ones.
I really enjoyed this process at first, and aside from being slightly naive and foolish with regards to trusting some genuinely evil sociopaths, I have met and made long lasting friendships with a far greater number of people than I would have done were I to have just stayed at home.
Unfortunately there has been a sting in the tale, expat life is transient.
And so, while you spend time making and forging these relationships they more often than not are temporary. For any number of reasons, people will move on to other international cities or make the eventual return home, usually as a result of their mother-in law giving them an ultimatum.
This should hardly come as a surprise, people tend to relocate to a place like Singapore as a result of their job; and so if they are of the mindset to leave wherever they were before because of their job, it stands to reason they are as likely to eventually move on from here as well.
And yet, this transiency still comes as a bit of shock at first, and becomes quite disappointing the longer you remain, and the more people you know that move on.
I have been reflecting on this status quo for sometime now and can’t help but feel that I have chosen to live in a departure lounge.
I get the opportunity to meet any number of different and interesting people from all over the world, however each person has a return ticket somewhere and their stay here will only be temporary.
And so, given this backdrop, the longer that I am here, the more I appreciate the consistency and truly long term relationships I have with friends and, of course, family back home.
There is an irony in this realisation, in many ways it was this sense of consistent personal and social stability that made we want to work abroad and have an adventure, and it is now the lack of these things that is making me pine for home.
I suppose this is just a reflection of me getting older.