It’s not just the weather. The crowds. The hurried pace. The aggressive drivers. The quality of bread (yeah I’m not kidding!). But most of all… my personal space.

For all my love of company, I am quite a fiercely private person when it comes to space. I like to have my own space where I can retreat to whenever I feel the need to. I like my alone time, when I have nobody else to account to, nobody else to worry about, and I can go about my various activities at a pace to my own liking and not feel guilty about neglecting anyone.

Everytime I come back to Singapore it’s the same culture shock. Rush, rush, rush! But this time it’s worse, not just because of all the things I have to get done before my wedding day. It’s worse because this time I know that I’m not returning to Toronto anytime soon. This time, it’s pretty much permanent.

In the last week I’ve been pretty emotional without really knowing why. The one sorest point is when anybody says anything to me about watching my diet. I of all people know that I’m kind of on my heavier side right now and I have every intent of slimming down sufficiently to fit nicely into my bridal gowns. And, I’m also sure I can do it without too much pain on my part. I just don’t appreciate all the reminders to watch my sugar or carbs or fat… and perhaps it’s all the more frustrating because 1. food is a sacred thing to me and 2. i’m possibly at the strongest and fittest i’ve ever been in my life!

Why does it bug me so much? I don’t really know. It’s not the first time I come back and hear the ‘you’ve put on weight’ comments. It never bothered me before. If I were to venture a guess as to why I’m so sensitive about this topic (and by the way it does NOT help matters when I’m told that I’m too sensitive), I think it’s because of what it represents: the end of my sabbatical.

From now on I’ll probably be getting well-intentioned instructions about all sorts of things (oh how I miss the quiet and the space in Toronto!) from furnishing my home (maybe), to cooking, to housework, to what to eat (or not to eat) when I’m pregnant, to how I’m supposed to be bringing up my child… and after such a long dormant period because of the dearth of external stimuli, I can feel my rebellious streak surge to the surface again.

It’s a new spiritual challenge. I feel mixed about it. I welcome it and have confidence that this is a hurdle I can overcome with God’s grace. But at the same time, while I’m still acclimatizing, my feelings about the sudden loss of personal space can be summed up in two words: It sucks!

Time is needed for progress. There’s a great need for patience, both on my part, as well as for those around me. But there isn’t anything I can do about others besides telling them how I feel. So please pray for me that God will help me from within so that I will soon find internal solitude and peace again in my new environment.

And here’s a word to all my friends still in Toronto. For all the ups and downs in your lives, don’t forget to cherish this time of your life when you can explore and live for yourself. My mom told me that so many times in the past, and while I never doubted its truth, I’m feeling it in a whole new way now that it’s over. So enjoy this phase of your lives while it lasts!

Oh, and in case you wonder… I am not depressed. I have every faith that the next phase of my life is filled with as much beauty and wonder as the last. I’m just experiencing the pangs of culture shock and perhaps a little growing pain. *wink*


  1. Hi dearie,

    I don’t think you have put on a lot of weight :) Sometimes it’s how you feel about yourself that matters than the scale :) But the people around you are just probably concerned :) You know, you are going to have a lot of advice whether you like it or not :) You just have to choose which ones to follow on your own :) Wedding, pregnancy, breastfeeding, childcare, etc etc :) The advice will be endless, especially when you are so popular mah :)

  2. :P we have so many lessons to learn in life, one after another, but we have each other too!! so no matter what happens, i am always here! on the same road, somewhere.. lol… miss ya!

  3. To YW:

    Ha ha aiyoh… what a way of putting it. :P I’ll have to learn to be more patient and see the love behind the advice bah…

    To FET:

    Thank you for your support! You’re so right, we may be half the world away but we’re still FETs! :P ha ha… God be with you. Miss ya too!

  4. heheh… no matter how many ppl give u advice you will still end up giving me advice. now you know why sometimes i bo hiu you right? lol. Not that I dun care, just that too much advice so I oso sometimes need to discern for myself lor ;) love ya jie!

  5. Wah, what is this? First thing you do when you go to your office is check my blog ah? I so HOR-noured you know!

    Aye, I know lah, I long got used to the fact that you never listen to my advice one lah… besides, now you also start giving me advice liao mah right? :) Heh heh…

    I advise you to rest more, be merry and play computer games while you’re recuperating and to take it easy at the office ok! Bet this is advice you’d take!

  6. hiyo ann!!

    its really something to read that a singaporean is having culture shock in singapore. hehe… :)

  7. I always don’t understand why we will have to re-adapt to something, somewhere we are supposed to be familiar with… is it because we are too forgetful? or because our perspective/perception change? :p

  8. hee hee.. I know what you mean. Sometimes I just feel like saying “If I can mind my own business, maybe you can too” Haha, I’m just plain rude. But of course I won’t say that lah..

    You’re on the heavier side? Because of your muscles? I think you’re more toned now…

  9. To Sherry & Phei Yee:

    When I attended that compulsory workshop for exchange students back in UofT, they described the phenomenon as ‘re-entry culture shock’. Apparently, once one adapts to the adopted country, coming back to the ‘home’ country can be a shock. And supposedly, many people at this stage get depressed and even ‘hate’ their home countries and feel like hiding from things and people from home for a while. Heh heh.

    This time around I think I feel it more cos I was away for a longer time, but also because this feels like a return that is permanent.

    Perspective surely changes. Sometimes it amuses and irks me at the same time when my parents comment that I’ve been westernized (cos they never said that much in the past, how come suddenly now say? Did I suddenly get westernized a lot in the last few months?)

    Things are different. Phei Yee, I’m sure you’ll have similar sentiments to share when you return too! :)

    To WT:
    Ha ha yah I think Yoga bulked me up a little. That’s why looking to do Pilates again to lengthen out the muscles *grin*… Do enjoy your Yoga by the Beach thing this Sat! I’m so envious! :P

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