A Singaporean Abroad

My writing has been most inspired by my life abroad – first as an assistant language teacher in Osaka, Japan on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, followed by my time in Belfast in Northern Ireland, UK.

I am fascinated by issues of home, culture and identity, as well as the challenges one faces in attempting to navigate differences in customs and practices. My articles include:

Life in Belfast/UK:

Musings and feelings about home, cultural differences and being a migrant:

For the Overseas Singaporean Unit:


4 thoughts on “A Singaporean Abroad

  1. Diarmaid Dillon says:

    Hi Joanne. my name is Diarmaid , 29 years old. I am a Doctor and I lived in Singapore last year and worked in SGH. I speak Mandarin at an upper intermediate level, and that’s why I came to Sg, to improve my Mandarin , yet work as a Doctor in an English speaking Environment , as working in say China or Taiwan would be difficult and dangerous without knowing the correct medical terms. In the end I decided wanted to stay in Sg but as Sporean Training is not recognized in the UK i was afraid that if for some unforseen reason I had to return home to NI, then I would be stuck in a training no mans land, so I decided to return home and finish training and then return to live in Sg permanently. I was a few weeks ago revisiting Singapore and coincidentally two days after I arrived Mr Lee passed away. I queued for 5 hours to pay respects to him, as he is the architect of Singapore and therefore the architect of all the things I like and admire about Singapore, and I believe his ideas are highly relevant to other countries especially somewhere like Northern Ireland.
    I have been thinking about writing some kind of an article about how Mr Lee’s ideas are highly relevant and applicable to somewhere like Northern Ireland especially in the area or Race relations (known as community relations here as you know) but I am not a journalist nor a blogger. I have just accidentally come upon your blog and find it highly interesting , as you have the opposite perspective to me, a Singaporean coming to live in Northern Ireland and seeing its shortcomings through a Singaporean’s eyes. I was wondering would you be interested in discussing these issues and perhaps helping me to write something , even if it is never seen or published, as I felt moved during my last time in Singapore , with the passing of Mr Lee it was the end of an era, and I felt like so many other places in the world could learn from his time in office, especially Northern Ireland
    Many thanks

    • starduest says:

      Hi Diarmaid, thanks very much for your comment and happy to hear that you’ve visited Singapore! I’m interested to hear more about what issues you’re thinking of discussing and will be happy to share my thoughts – if they’re of any value! Perhaps if you drop me a comment with your email address (it won’t be made public) we can then communicate via email 🙂

  2. Diarmaid Dillon says:

    Hi Joanne my email is diarmaiddillon@gmail.com
    I guess i want to write something, that would potentially compare Singapore and the way its dealt with integration etc compared to NI. In the Straits Times recently a Northern Irish singaporean wrote an article, he is banking or something so it was about business and quite technical and so it didn’t touch on the issues I feel are relevant. I saw your post about HDBs and I love the term “HDB girl” this is something unique to Singapore and is a big part of race relations in terms of the quotas etcs. I also have some stories to share from the Malay community, my work in SGH allowed me to meet older Malay nurses, and they would take me for Malay breakfasts in Geyland Serai after we finished night shifts, and their stories about the old Singapore are so interesting, and because it was in the Malay area and I was an Ang Moh they could let their hair down (not literally obviously:) and say the things they want to say , without feeling like someone was snooping on them. They werent complaining about Singapore or different races, nor did they feel any loyalty to Malaysia (something the Sg government seems to be worried about) they just felt the Singapore they grew up in was unrecognizable and they felt lost.
    Hope we can discuss these issues and you could help me write something:)

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