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Living in the UK: A Wild Ride

By Nehemiah Yen

Two years ago, my parents decided to become missionaries with the intention to move to Leeds, a northern English city. While I knew we were moving, I didn’t really acknowledge it, and lived in absolute denial, until I set foot in England, and the realisation that I was now living in a foreign country slowly began to register. Prior to moving, we had lived in the same HDB flat in Singapore for the last 14 years. Growing up in Singapore was great for me. I had an extraordinary and embracing community, using public transport was incredibly convenient, and it was a familiar place—the only home I had ever known. I had always assumed that I would live in Singapore forever, but evidently, that assumption was flawed. 

Life in the UK began with a rocky start. As I began to come to terms with the fact that my life was now drastically different, I began to slip through the apertures and into isolation and despair. Things we joke about like procrastination or sleeping late and other mildly unhealthy but manageable habits eventually became a genuine, troubling issue. I felt so detached and lonely, so removed from all that I knew and loved, to the point that I grew apathetic, not caring about anything anymore. 

Everything had changed for me, and I didn’t cope well with it and I am still affected by that process of adapting today. Many things I had taken for granted—an evening stroll alone, the abundance of Asian food, freely visiting friends, and even the efficient public transport—had just vanished. To this day, my initial experience with moving still has an impact on me. It is a constant, gruelling struggle to break the negative habits I formed as a result of simply not caring, of not wanting to embrace the foreign and daunting environment I now found myself in. 

While moving was tough, it hasn’t been all hopeless and bleak. Living in a foreign country has given me opportunities that I would have never gotten back home. I have made new friends, seen new places, experienced a different culture, and so much more. 

In approximately 4 months, my family and I are returning to Singapore, and there will be aspects that I will miss about living in England. However, English food as a whole still really isn’t my cup of tea. It has been a wild ride, and I haven’t enjoyed all of it, but I think I have matured because of it. 

Change is difficult, but it is also necessary for growth. I still don’t like it very much, but I think I am better equipped for the next time change comes around.

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