Who are you?
My name is Alexandra Sheehan and I am a 24-year-old freelance writer, blogger and editor. I also manage my own blog at thesearemysheehanigans.com. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, Communications and Leadership Studies, I decided to work and travel abroad. I went to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Turkey, Singapore and Thailand. The easiest jobs for me to find abroad were teaching and nanny jobs, due to my experience teaching and tutoring back home in the States. I started my blog when I first left home, and it has harnessed such a passion for writing that I have now decided to pursue that as my career.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
When I graduated University, there weren’t many attractive job offers in the States, what with the economy being in such a poor state. Having taken a spring break trip to Jordan and Dubai previously, I decided to enjoy my life and continue my pursuits abroad. There is so much to learn and see elsewhere in the world, and I wanted to continue to educate and challenge myself outside of the classroom. My first trip by myself was to New Zealand. I decided on the land of the kiwis because it is safe and an English speaking country, a great way to ease myself into solo travel.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The biggest challenge was definitely leaving friends and family behind. It is a huge commitment to take that job abroad and make the journey. It is not so simple to turn around and head back home. I didn’t know anyone in any of the places that I traveled to, so it was definitely a challenge to be so completely self-sufficient in a foreign place. The other challenge was the cost. It is expensive to fly across the world, and being a recent college graduate, my income was limited, hence the decision to work abroad.
How did you find somewhere to live in Singapore?
When I first went to Singapore, I actually accepted a childcare position. The position was a live-in position with the family. Therefore, the stresses of finding a place to live were lifted from my shoulders. However, after moving to Singapore, I found out that the apartment was extremely tiny and was housing more people than I had expected. Thus, I went out on my own to find an apartment. Having made friends during my stay, I found a roommate through a friend of a friend. This person’s old roommate was moving out, so I filled in.
Were there many other expats in your area?
Singapore is heaven for expats. The expat community is so huge. In fact, it feels as if there are more expats than locals. Pretty much everywhere you turn, you can find an established community of expats. This community is so diverse, with people from all over the world. You can find expats who have just moved to Singapore, as well as expats who have been there for years. It’s really a fantastic environment, and everyone is so friendly and willing to help, and they are all easy to relate to due to similar experiences.
What was your relationship like with the locals?
Unfortunately, I would have to say that my relationship with the locals was pretty nonexistent. As much as I would love to learn about what it is like to be a local in Singapore, it is a hard feat to accomplish. I feel that there is certainly a prevalent separation between the local community and the expat community. It also seems that there are not that many native Singaporeans. Regrettably, I have to admit that my interactions with the locals were pretty much limited to the taxi drivers and servers/bartenders at restaurants.
What did you like about life where you were?
Convenience. Everything in Singapore is convenient. The public transportation is easy to use, clean and extremely efficient. The MRT or the buses will take you pretty much anywhere that you would want to go. There are shopping malls at every corner. No matter what strikes your fancy at any given moment, you are always within easy access of your needs. Whether it be fast food, a nice sit-down meal, budget clothing, expensive designer threads, a coffee, bookstore, new sneakers, a new watch, anything, you can find it at one of the malls that litter the streets.
What did you dislike about your expat life?
I dislike that there doesn’t seem to be much of an indigenous culture. There isn’t much local tradition or history. Unlike other countries that I have been to, this seems to have an effect on the country’s citizens’ pride. There isn’t much of it. I also think there seems to be a negative relationship between the locals and the expats. While it is not publicly demonstrated, I get the feeling that there is resentment at us taking jobs away from the locals. Also, everything in Singapore is super expensive, and that definitely gets tiring on your wallet.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I would say that they shouldn’t be afraid to get out and try new things. Without a social life in Singapore, it can get pretty boring. For those who are more secluded and keep to themselves, you may find yourself bored on weekends or getting sick of going shopping. It’s essential to involve yourself in social groups so that you can get out and enjoy life in Singapore. It’s also important to take advantage of the fabulous location of Singapore; you can go anywhere in SE Asia for under $100, and your Singapore income will go a long way there.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to continue my nomadic traveling and working lifestyle. I want to continue to broaden my writing career and increase my clientele so that I can rely on this as a full-time income. My goal is to never stop traveling the world, seeing new things, and meeting new people. I also have plans to travel my own country! I haven’t even seen a quarter of the States, and I want to experience and appreciate where I come from as well as the rest of the world.