Swedapura is One

Exactly one year ago, I made the big move from Singapore to Sweden and it is really amazing how quickly time has flown by.

Here is an excerpt of what I wrote on 4th March 2015:

But in spite of all this (referring to the difficult decision of having to leave everything behind), I have made the choice to go because I genuinely believe that this is a great opportunity for me to grow, to learn what it means to struggle, to exercise the true meaning of faith, of hope, of love. I don’t know how life in Sweden will pan out but I trust that God is already before me on this journey.

I have to say that when I wrote this, I did not know or realise the true extent of what I was saying. It was something I believed in but today, I can testify that truly this one year has been a true test of my faith, of what it means to love, of starting from ground zero and completely trusting that everything would work out according to God’s plan.

For that, I am thankful for everything, whether it is the tears or the joys, and with a joyful heart I can sing, God is so good.

Looking back at the pictures from last year, it is so nice to remember how far we have come.

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This was us making our way from Jens parent’s home in Sätila with a car full of stuff to our new apartment in Stockholm and having to sleep on the floor for a few days because we had no bed.

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And yes, wow the apartment was once empty!

And of course now if you look at this video, our apartment is anything but empty, even if I only highlighted 8 random things in my apartment.

There is so much more that I want to write about but in essence I just want to say that God works in mysterious ways and there are so many things that our human minds would not be able to understand or “figure out” till it happens and I just want to thank the Lord for putting me in a place where so many times He has spoken to me to “Let Go and Let God.”

I would also like to take this time to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey whether emotionally, spiritually or virtually. It is going to be a long unpredictable road ahead but if anything this year has taught me, it is that whatever happens, God will always be in control.

And with that, here is a brand new Youtube video on Swedapura where I answer questions that you may or may not have been curious about.

Click on the image to be directed to Youtube!

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p.s. As a heads up it is 27 mins long so if you make it all the way to the end, I would like to give you a virtual high five!

The journey of figuring out who “Swedapura” is and being the girl with her heart in two places continues but today, we celebrate.

Till the next time!

 

Winter Vibes

So coming back to frosty, snowy and dark Sweden after spending three amazing weeks in sunny Singapore was definitely not the easiest thing. I am not going to lie but the first few weeks of the year have been pretty rough for me, which partially explains my absence on this space. I am not sure if it was the cold, or the darkness, or the homesickness or just everything rolled into one but all I wanted was to either wake up when winter was over or (more rationally) fly back home and be back in the warmth of my family and friends in Singapore.

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I guess winter depression is real and being the girl who grew up in the tropics her whole life, going through my first full winter is no joke at all. Based on my conversations with other Swedes or people who have been living here for awhile, this is probably the coldest that Stockholm has ever been (yay?). Before I left for Singapore, the temperatures were hovering around 9-11 degrees and when I came back it was a nasty -15 degrees.

It almost feels like you can never win when my friends back home are telling me about how unbearably hot it is in Singapore and here I am trying to figure out how many layers I should throw on to ensure that I will not be shivering in the cold.

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I guess you could say that a part of me is very happy to have grown up in Singapore because I don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything growing up without snow. It is just not as fun in reality as compared to in the movies.

It took awhile but I must say that now that we are close to end of January, the days do seem less bleak and there is that hope that the days would just keep getting better with time.

I started trying to look around and appreciating what was around me versus constantly thinking about what I am missing out on (in Singapore).

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I must say that my favourite bits are:

1) When the snow is fresh and the sun/moonlight is reflecting off the snow and it just looks like a glitter explosion everywhere.

2) Catching the sunrise (because the sun rises so late) and the sky is a colourful paddlepop hue of pinks and blues.

3) When the snow comes in handy and can be used as instant ice packs in times of injury.

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So while these pictures are not the best representation of how I look/feel everyday, there are always moments to smile about.

Although I have been quiet on this space, I have been keeping up with Youtube and if you have not already seen my latest videos, do click on the thumbnails below to check them out!

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Am so glad that my parents were so spontaneous and made one of the videos possible (thank you Mum and Dad!). I had so much fun editing the videos and I hope you have as much fun watching them as well. Do keep a look out for more videos in the weeks to come!

Till the next time!

Swedapura in Singapura

It was a lovely time to be back in Singapore and in the company of family and friends. There are way to many pictures to go through but before the year comes to an end, I just want to take some time to reflect and be thankful for all the amazing people that God has placed in my life.

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Life in Singapore has always been a crazy hectic and this time around was no different. However in spite of the madness, there were so many moments when my heart was just bursting with joy to be present in the moment, to be surrounded by the people I love, to connect and reconnect.

There is truly no place like home and Singapura will always hold a very important place in my heart because of each and every one of you.

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Thank you for being my cheerleaders and pillars of strength from many miles away. This trip made me realise that Swedapura is so much more than just a mishmash of two words, but a journey for me to discover what it means to have two homes and hearts in two places.

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My trip home may have been really short but thank YOU for making it so memorable and till the next time we meet, I will be missing all of you!

Here is a new video up on Youtube capturing moments of my time in Singapore. Click on the image below to watch!

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Here’s to a great new year ahead!

6 Month Reflection: Important things to learn before moving out

Now that it is the month of October, we are just less than 90 days to the end of the year (88 days to be exact!). It makes me really happy to think that I am another month closer to heading back to Singapore for a visit but also quite amazed by the fact that I have been here for more than six months now. It sounds a bit funny to count but I do enjoy looking back and reflecting what I have accomplished over the last few months.

For this post, I just wanted to share a list of things that I consider “important things to learn before moving out” (whether it is moving overseas or moving out of your family home). The thing is that I never seriously thought about what moving into my own space would entail. For any non-Singaporean, it may sound a bit strange but in Singapore, we usually do not move out of our family home till we get married. So over the last few months, I have been learning how to look after my own space and while you can learn everything through trial and error and with the help of the internet, if I could turn back time, I would have loved to spend some time shadowing my mum to learn a few tricks from her on how to look after a house.

So these are some of the things that I would have loved to have learnt/known:

1) Learn how to make your Mum’s favourite dishes

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Some days you just crave for familiar comfort food and for me I always think about all the yummy food my mum makes. It has been nice to have my mum give me tips over whatsapp but because everything is an “agar-ation” (ie estimation), I always feel that I have not been able to fully recreate the taste of my mum’s food. Perhaps also because it is lacking her love/touch. So far I have tried the above Paperback chicken, Plum sauce chicken, Kung Pao chicken and Beef stew (using pork). It has been fun giving my mum’s recipes a go and I hope to…get better.

It would be a lot easier if you are not moving overseas because you can go home any time but I think it is still nice to learn your favourite dishes so that you can eventually cook them for your partner/family.

2) Familiarise yourself with the essential household supplies and the average prices of what things should cost.

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Having lived at home my whole life, I have never had to buy any household supplies. I have helped my parents carry these supplies home from the supermarket but I have never had to “pick them out” or take note of the cost. So when Jens and I went to the supermarket to stock up on the house for the first time, I left it to him to pick out the “essentials”.

And when you live on your own, every penny matters, so it is good to know what things should cost and what a “bra pris” (good price) is. I don’t get why toilet paper is so expensive?! I mean if you want to get a decent quality one that does not scratch your skin, you need to pay at least S$0.61 per roll and this is already discounted price. Haha yes mum I am finally feeling the pinch.

3) Learn how to use the dishwasher and washing machine

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I know dishwashers are not common in Singapore so I had to learn this when I got here. Sounds very “suaku” but I have only JUST learnt that it is important to have “salts” in the machine to get a good wash. I have not been very happy with the quality of the washes but Jens told me that the dishwasher “washes itself” so I thought that it was normal until I realised the difference with some of this in the washer!

It is not exactly rocket science to learn how to work a washing machine but I always have this innate fear that my clothes will come out shrunken or torn so I am quite happy with the “handwash” function on my washing machine here. And yes, that is the only setting I use for my clothes.

4) Learn how to wash the toiletbowl.

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Wow, this was really the last thing on my mind but I never realised till now how important a fresh toilet bowl is. And in case you are wondering, it doesn’t get any cleaner with each flush. You NEED to get your…hands dirty. I have since learnt from Jens with the help of this toiletbowl washing liquid (who knew there was such a thing) but I would definitely make a mental note to see how my mum does it at home when I am back in December (lol!).

I have had a few friends who have commented that I am very “domesticated” now but I know that I still have a lot to learn and I have had to learn the basics in order to survive. Having my own place now, has also made me a lot more appreciative of everything my mum and dad has done for me over the last 25 years. Thank you both, I have been very blessed/spoilt.

If you have your own list of things you wish you knew before you moved out, do share them with me!

Till the next time!

SG50 Reflections

With Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations happening this weekend, I cannot help but feel so immensely proud to be Singaporean even though I am so far away from home. The thing is that while I may be becoming more “Swedish” as I learn the language, the culture, the way of life, there is still this Singaporeanness (is this a word?) in me that I feel like I will never lose. It makes me very happy to be able to say that “I come from Singapore, I am a Singaporean”.

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Yes life in Singapore can be stressful, it can be hectic, but I honestly believe that we have it good for us in so many ways that we almost take it for granted. Since I moved here, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life.

In my Swedish class, I study with fellow immigrants and some of them can barely speak any English, some of them have been separated from their loved ones/spouses who are still stuck in their war torn countries and all of them had to give up everything that was “home” for them to start a new life in Sweden. It didn’t matter if they used to be lawyers, nurses, butchers or goldsmiths back in their home country because now that they are in Sweden, they are all back in school to learn a new language to help them start a new life in Sweden.

Stories about war, about people’s sufferings has always been a distant experience and only something I either read in the news or learn about in textbooks. I cannot say that I know what it is like now but after interacting and listening to the stories of the people who have experienced it first hand, it becomes so much more…real.

It has caused me to reflect and to recognise the many things that I have versus focusing on what I do not. Before I moved here, I must admit that I felt pretty anxious about having to leave home, about needing to stuff my life/home into three bags and after listening to the lives of my classmates, all my worries and fears feel so grossly trivial.

Many people who hear that I am from Singapore have so many good things to say about it. We didn’t get to this 50 years of age as a nation by chance so in celebration of how far we have come, I want to be thankful for…

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A home that is safe and peaceful – I am comforted by the knowledge that I can go home any time knowing that it will still be there and never having to worry about my safety even if I am out late at night.

A solid foundation in two languages – I am so thankful that not only is English our native language but the fact that we all grew up trained to be billingual. I cannot say that my Chinese is the best but surprisingly, thanks to the many years of education and (multiple) tuition lessons…the language is coming back with more use and practice in spite of the fact that I have hardly used it over the last few years.

A rigorous education system –  We complain a lot about the high stress levels of studying in Singapore but on hindsight I feel like it has offered us a very strong foundation to face the tougher working world.

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I write all this not because I want to feign patroitism but because from the bottom of my heart, I have learnt how blessed I am and if I could choose, I would still choose to grow up in Singapore in a heartbeat. To all my dear family and friends back home (and overseas), enjoy your long weekend!

Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!

p.s. Pictures from this post are from Singapore’s 49th birthday celebration last year where I managed to watch the parade live with Jens, my oldest sister Jie and Caity.