Sunday, July 31, 2011


You know how there is a popcorn setting on American microwaves?  Well this is the Asian Version

Friday, July 29, 2011

Quick Lessons

Ok, so I have been here a week now so I suppose it is time for a new update to my blog.  I apologize for my lack of posts lately but I struggle with deciding what is really "blog worthy" and what is not, but I will try to post more often.  For this post, I would like to focus on a few lessons on life in Singapore that I have learned in the first week.

Lesson #1:  It's HOT!!

I was prepared for this to a small degree, but you can never really anticipate equatorial heat until you really experience it.  The heat, compacted with the fact that everything in Singapore requires walking, and walking a LOT, leads to a constant sweat flow.  There is no rewearing any clothes in Singapore, everything gets worn one time and then it needs to be washed.  So the lesson learned really is that sweat is inevitable, so you might as well embrace it and get used to it.

Lesson #2:  Walking in crowds is chaotic

Usually in the U.S. when you walk in a crowd the whole mob usually goes at the same constant pace, and usually people going one direction will pick one side to walk on while people going the other direction will walk on the other side.  Not in Singapore.  People will go faster than you, slower than you, walk right through you, and it really doesn't matter what direction you are going.  Anytime I am in a store, or especially in the MRT (metro) stations, it is as if someone has kicked off the top of an anthill, everybody just chaotically goes in their own direction!  So people bumping into you, rolling over your foot with a shopping cart, or nudging past you is completely normal here...just the way it is.

Lesson #3:  Strangers don't talk

Living among the locals, I was really relishing in the opportunity to get to know them and become part of the community.  I don't know if it is the southern roots in me, where we speak (or at least smile or wave!) to the people we pass on the streets, but I felt that this was completely a realistic expectation.  However, I have had no such luck.  It feels like as I am about to pass people on the side-walk where I WOULD make some form of contact, the locals just put their head down and avoid any communication.  They will not even make eye contact with me when we are stuck in an elevator together!  It is a little discouraging, but I am determined to break through, even if it just with those in my HDB (apartment building) and I have a feeling I may have to be a little more aggressive, but I am up for the challenge :)  Oh and if you can make a connection, they are SUPER friendly.  For instance, there were no free tables at the hawker stand so me and my flatmate, Johan, asked if we could sit with this couple who had plenty of room.  They agreed and as they saw our food arrive, the man proceeded to teach us how the proper way to prepare and eat that dish!  The hard part is just making that initial connection.

Lesson #4:  You will never run out of new food to try

I won't go into too much detail about the food because I am saving that for another post (complimented with pictures!), but I wanted to end with a positive lesson.  There is such a wide array of foods from different cultures, new fruits I have never even heard of, desserts and drinks that I honestly have not had the same thing twice here.  Yet, I still feel like there is so much more I have to try!  And the best part is that it is all good (well except this local fruit called durian that I keep hearing about, one day I'll be brave enough to try it).  I have not had anything bad yet!

I am sure I have many more lessons yet to learn about the culture, but these were the most immediate ones.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My First Day

So after 20 hours in an airplane, only an hour of which was spent sleeping, I finally arrived in Singapore.  I was greeted at the airport by James, the school's P.E. teacher, and we took a cab to my apartment.  While on the cab ride, James explained to me that there was a small group of people that were going to Malaysia early tomorrow morning to spend the day at an orphanage over there just playing with kids, and asked me if I would like to go.  Now at this point it was 1 am local time, I had just spent the past 24 hours traveling with practically no sleep, and we had to get up at 7 am in order to get to Malaysia at a decent obviously I agreed to go.  It sounded like such a great adventure and like a great opportunity to spend the day that I could not pass it up, plus playing with the kids from the orphanage sounded so fun and rewarding!

After only being in the country for 8 hours, and with 5 hours of sleep, we all headed to Malaysia.  The guy who had organized the trip had brought along 3 very large stuffed animals for the children, and gave me the Minnie Mouse to carry, so that made getting through customs pretty interesting.  But we eventually got there and the kids were so wonderful, and so happy to play with us.  We juggled bean bags, jumped rope, wrestled around, and even made balloon animals.  The kids seemed to have and endless stream of energy in them and with my 5 hours of sleep I was trying to keep up.  There were about 20 kids in this orphanage ranging in age from 1 year old to probably around 13 years old, and it was wonderful to see how they looked after each other, with the older kids caring for the younger ones.  It was such a wonderful experience, and I look forward to my next opportunity to go back and see them again!

However my day did not end there.  When I finally got back to Singapore around (6 pm) my flatmate, Johan, had invited me to watch the South Africa v. Australia rugby match with him and some of his church buddies, most of which seemed to be South African, and again I found this impossible to turn down.  So me and a group of Johan's friends sat around watching rugby, eating pizza, and just hanging out which was very nice.  They were pretty amazed that I was from the states and had played rugby for so long, where as I was just happy to be with people who knew what the sport was!  Unfortunately South Africa had a horrible showing in the match, and lost pretty badly to Australia (I say unfortunately in respect to my company, being they were mostly South Africans), but it was still a good time.  The group decided to watch the Band of Brothers series, but as I began to feel myself zone out I decided to excuse myself, hail a cab back to my flat, and promptly collapse into my bed.  I could not have planned for a better first day in my new home.

Me and Daniel

 Little James loving the new Teddy Bear

 James filling some big shoes

This is Derrick, and his he made that bicycle himself...way impressive!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taking Off

I have many emotions as I prepare to leave for Singapore.  I feel the best representation of how I feel is quoted in the movie Armageddon as Owen Wilson's character is being strapped into the rocket just before going to save the world:

"I got that "excited/scared" feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it's more - It could be two - it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that's what makes it so intense!"