Who are you?
My name is Trinayan Baruah and I am 22 years old. I am currently living in New Delhi. I have just finished my Bachelor of Technology degree from a prestigious institute known as Vellore Institute of Technology in India. The area in which I did my graduation is Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Chemical Process Engineering. My mother tongue is Hindi and my native is in a state known as Assam in India. I also have a keen interest in the field of music and I will be moving abroad to pursue a career in music soon. Currently I have been recruited by IBM in campus job placements and I am planning to join work within a month.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I stayed in Singapore for few months in the year 2011. I had moved as I was working under a professor in the field of Chemical Engineering. We had come up with a thesis in the production of biodiesel with the help of a new fuel called L-Alanine. We were in fact successful in producing biodiesel in this method. This study was published in few journals as well. Also since my sister stays in Singapore, I had overstayed there for an additional 60 days as a holiday trip. She is a professor in Singapore Management University and has been living in Singapore for the last seven years.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Since my sister lives in Singapore, I did not face any such challenges during my move. Of course it would be very different for others who do not have any helping hand in Singapore. I had taken a flight from Chennai to Singapore. It is approximately 5 hours journey and comparatively much cheaper as compared to flying costs to other international destination. It was cheap also because I had booked my tickets in advance in a low cost airline Tiger Airways. It cost me approximately USD $200 for a round trip which is even cheaper then traveling between cities within India. But anyone interested in travelling with Tiger Airways should in advance ask them about their baggage policy. I remember having a problem with my luggage and paying extra in the airport. There isn’t much of a time difference between India and Singapore so I didn’t feel any different from here. Getting my visa wasn’t a problem.
How did you find somewhere to live?
My sister is a professor in Singapore Management University in Singapore. She lives in a rented apartment in River Valley Road so I had stayed with her during my stay. My suggestions for anyone moving to Singapore would be to search in advance a rented room through popular websites anywhere in Singapore. This is also required to show in the visa process. Although it is preferred to find a place in close distance from work, it won’t be a big problem if one stays away as the public transportation in Singapore is very good. It is well connected by a very efficient metro railways and the bus transportation is timely and safe. Also, public transportation is very cheap in Singapore.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Where I was staying, I only remember few Indians living. However, if one moves to places close to Little India in Singapore, there are many Indians. Mostly Tamils from the state of Tamil Nadu are found in majority in Singapore. In fact, one could refer to shop vendors in Little India as ‘Anna’ and ‘Akka’(meaning brother and sister in Tamil) as most of them are Tamils and they understand. However, there are also other Indians living all over Singapore. I came across mostly Indian professors because of the nature of my work. Also, there are many Sri Lankan people living in Singapore so Indians will not really find a lot of problems in shifting from India to Singapore. There isn’t much of a cultural shock due to warm nature of the native people. Since it is just a few hours journey from India, many Indian tourists are also found roaming around.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I felt that the native Singapore people were very nice in nature and were quite helpful. They were very decent and never interfered in other’s lives. Most of them trusted each other and expected others also to behave in a similar manner. They are quite people and unlike Indians are very strict about time. I felt it is too timely in the beginning. Everything was happening in time. The bus or the metro arrived within few seconds of the expected time of arrival. People reached offices before time. But within a week I was used to this style and in fact liked it. Since I was travelling mostly by public transport, I often asked for advice from local people of landmarks and milestones. Much to my surprise they used to help me in a very positive manner. This is something I really liked about the locals.
What do you like about life where you are?
As mentioned earlier, while I was in Singapore I really liked the efficient public transport system. The weather in Singapore is very good as it is neither cold nor hot throughout the year. But it might get humid sometimes. The road where I lived was a parallel road to Orchard Road and often I used to go and take long walks along that road in the evenings. I really loved walking there because of the vibrant and high tech city life which is best seen in the Orchard Road. I found Singapore to be quite safe and there was no risk travelling alone at any time of night. There were a lot of places to eat and drink and Indian food was available in many places. I loved the local Singapore food as well. The cleanliness in Singapore right from the road to the restaurants appealed to me a lot.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Honestly speaking I didn’t dislike anything in Singapore. The only problem I faced was that Singapore being a very expensive city, I couldn’t afford a lot of things which I would have loved to do. Tough I didn’t find the food to be very expensive, other stuffs such as wardrobe accessories, shoes or other such stuffs were very expensive. But keeping it mind the high standards of living in Singapore, I think it’s quite valid to be an expensive place.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Singapore is a great place to live provided you keep in mind few things. Don’t expect to buy a car right away as Singapore has strict regulations of car policy to keep the traffic in control. One such implication is that buying a car is an expensive affair. Be prepared to use the public transport as it is very efficient. It is a great place for education if one aims from India. It is not far, has universities like NTU, NUS or SMU which provides excellent infrastructure and education, and you won’t feel homesick. For professionals, it is a great place to work for good money if you have a good skill set. People living there have many ways to relax themselves, from watching a movie, or going shopping, bird watching or just relaxing in the beach, Singapore has it all. But be prepared to get your wallets loosened as it is very expensive and not always can you stop resisting. It is recommended that you have some amount of savings before moving to Singapore.
What are your plans for the future?
I have currently graduated and will be working for a year or two. After that I am planning to apply to music schools abroad as I finally want my career to be in music. Singapore would be a good destination if I get an opportunity there. I would love to live in Singapore again. I have also thought of applying to jobs in Singapore and if I can get any, I would prefer to move to Singapore right away.