The Reactions You Get When You Tell People You Are Moving To Singapore
Edit: Apparently a good enough number of folks are still just learning that I'm moving to Singapore. If that includes you, you might want to read this piece, first, before reading what follows. Or just jump in. Either way.
Initial Reaction: Gob-Smacked I don’t think that I’ve ever had literally-jaw-dropping news to give at any prior moment in my life. Most of my major life events have been pretty expected so I can’t recall anyone being shocked to the point of speechlessness during any prior versions of these conversations. But this time, it’s far and away the most common initial reaction I get. I’ve had to repeat myself to some people, and there have been more than a few who have asked me if I was joking. All of which is understandable, given the dramatic nature of a statement like “I’m resigning from the district where I have worked for 14 years, selling my house and moving with my family to Singapore.” It’s not something that’s commonly encountered in my social and professional circles. Thankfully, we’re well past saturation in those circles by this point. If any lingering folks know me and don’t yet know what’s going to happen in July, please accept my apologies.
The initial surprise is followed by one of two major next thoughts:
Follow Up Reaction 1: Excitement Most people are genuinely excited for us. They relate to this kind of thing similarly to us in that they think it’s a fantastic opportunity and that we would be crazy not to take advantage of it.
Follow Up Reaction 2: Puzzlement Even though most people are jazzed, there’s a strong minority opinion that this kind of move doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’ve gotten a lot of “I could never do that!” type statements. Sometimes I get questions about my pension1, or other issues related to finances/security that betray a pretty cautious mind on the subject.
The difference between the two followup reactions is interesting to me. From talking about it with different people, it seems like a lot of it has to do with personal perspectives and different life circumstances. The only firm tethers that I have to remain in my current role in my current job are the income, my comfort with the culture of the district, and geographical proximity to friends and family. Without being too gauche, the new position handily takes care of the first issue2. Cultural comfort is convenient, but I also think it might be contributing to some level of stagnation in my development as an educator. The culture of the school I’m moving to in Singapore seems both very different and very aligned with many of the things I think about how best to teach children. And that’s not even saying anything about the culture of Singapore, and how immersion in it will broaden my perspectives and those of my family (or how refreshing it might be to jettison various dynamics at work in contemporary American culture). I fully expect these shifts will be a challenge, but one that will make me a better teacher than I am right now, and (with a little luck) a better person. Geographical proximity to loved ones is the most difficult one to deal with, and I also think it’s the thing that most drives the puzzlement reaction for most people that evince it. In our case, it’s helped by the fact that all loved ones that have been consulted have encouraged us to make this move and not look back. Not to suggest that suddenly moving half the way around the world will not be a significant adjustment for family patterns that have mostly occurred inside of a 500-mile radius for the past 37 years, but the opportunity that has presented itself is just too good and too unique to pass up.
Of course, the fact that we feel this way is precisely why this is an excellent move for us. I don’t think that anyone who feels differently is wrong for doing so, they just aren’t of a similar mind to me on this one. They have totally fine reasons for feeling the way they do; they just won't be moving to Singapore.