I have been feeling a little down and frustrated recently. I have been increasingly looking forward to weekends and it’s really because I want to get away from people, from the Singaporeans. I get tired from the profiling and all the economics so prevalent in the conversations. People seem to fish information out of each other too excessively and terms like “worth it”, “risk”, “afford to” and “bell curve” litter the conversations. Everything is so pragmatic and rational, it gets so strifling from time to time.

Prior to embarking on the exchange program, I always thought that I’m somewhat different from the Singaporean friends around me. It’s not that I’m exceptionally talented or sociable but I just have different priorities. I don’t enjoy shopping and I want to get an education out of the university – not just grades. I am more idealistic and I like to do things for the fun of it, never mind if it’s not supposedly the best possible option. I also wondered from time to time if I am actually different or am I just trying too hard to be different because I just do not like the things that are going on. So instead of going on exchange with friends like what other people do, I decided to leave for HK on my own. I’m not being anti-social but I really wanted to understand myself. If I live life on a clean slate and surround myself with people who don’t judge me by the schools which I have attended and my small achievements in life, then perhaps I could figure out what my ideal lifestyle is and whether I am actually different. So I left for hongkong and had a blast there, doing things that I like and making friends without those awkward questions about my past because there are so many other topics to talk about. I had so many good conversations there and I still could remember vividly the contents of some really fine conversations.

I came back to Singapore feeling this renewed and stronger sense of self-identity. I know how I want to lead my life and I am proud and happy to do that. I know I need a work-life balance in my life and I don’t want to compartmentalize my life into distinct components of work/ school and travelling. I want to have something that I enjoy everyday and I want to enjoy learning at least one thing everyday. I don’t want to sensationalize travelling as well. This is life, not drama, Constanza said. Anyhow, this mentality is difficult to keep up. I can feel the societal pressure to think a lot about grades and to weigh choices carefully and rationally with a cost-benefit analysis. I catch myself beginning to worry over my grades and thus not enjoying the classes and I find myself over-thinking about the small choices that I have to make. I hear myself questioning this lifestyle with a decent work-life balance. “At what expense am I doing this?” I hear the uncool me asking. It’s frustrating, I don’t like it. Of course the familiar pressure of trying to disown myself from the communities which are full of spoilt, arrogant children came back. It’s always irritating when I meet someone new and they immediately profile me and stereotype me based on the school communities that I belong to. Then I have to spend a lot of energy to try to show them that I do not fit their stereotype.

Sometimes I wish I could live in my weekend cocoon. Sometimes I wish I could transport back in time for a day. My biggest fear really is the possibility of losing the person I was in hongkong. What will my exchange friends think of me when I travel to see them this summer with this complexity?


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