Monday, July 13, 2009

How Quickly a Year Passes

It's been 15 months.

I can't believe I've lived the life of an expat for more than a year.

I still remember kissing my family goodbye and getting on an airplane to jump start the Singapore chapter of our lives. There have been a lot of firsts over the past 15 months.

The first 24 hour airline trip.
The first lonely piece of furniture.
The first drive on the left hand side of the road.
The first mail.
The first pork floss on toast. (I did try it once. Weird)
The first cross-globe multiplayer Guitar Hero.
The first fender bender.
The first Japanese chili-burger.
The first bad day in the new office.
The first "business dinner".
The first durian.

And that was just the first month.

I won't say the last year has been all rainbows and cotton candy either. There have definitely been difficult days. Actually, most of last June and July were pretty damn rough. All of the other expats were on home leave for the summer and we felt pretty isolated and out of our element.

Things started looking up after school started and our neighborhood converted itself from a deserted wasteland into "little America". It takes Melissa and I both a little time to break out of our shells and go make friends. (I've never been accused of being the outgoing "social butterfly" type.) After a while though, we were able to figure out where we fit in and who were the kind of people out here we really got along with. Jack was able to do the same after a few months as well. Over the span of his first grade year, he went from "Dad, I don't have any friends," to "Dad, I can't decide which sleepover to go to tomorrow."

So many people have helped make us feel at home in Singapore by treating us like the friends we hope we can be to them. Just to name a few, thanks to the Gonzalez, Weiss (we'll miss you), Mathur and Hruska families. Also to Jack's friends Aiden, Matthew, Ryan, Romil, Adrian, Kaitlin, Kenton, Rishi, Grant and Derek. We also can't forget everyone at the SAS PTA Treasury who Melissa has counted money with for countless hours.

Our "new" apartment in Singapore now just feels like our home. Somehow it changed itself from this strange place we needed to get used to, into that place that feels good to return to after a long trip. It feels like just yesterday, we were so excited to receive our sea shipment. Now, we've pretty much filled the apartment and we're trying to figure out which things to get rid of to replace with all of the nice new things we're buying.

Work has been an adventure for me as well. I've probably learned more in the last year in Singapore than I have in my last 5 in Houston. Getting dropped into a totally new environment does wonders for the mind. I must have said, "I don't know," about 500 times over the last year. Thankfully, I've been able to learn the ropes fast enough to never have to say, "I don't know," about the same topic twice. That's mostly due to the great people I work with. Both the people I work for, and even more so, the people who work for me. Most of the young engineers in my department are already much better at their jobs than I was at their age. A few more years and this place will run itself.

We've built up a list a great stories to tell when we're home this summer. Silly stories, adventure stories, travel stories, vacation stories, learning stories and culture stories. We're looking forward to seeing all of our friends and family in the US over the next few weeks. I get on a plane tomorrow to start my first vacation of more than a long weekend in a very long time.

15 months, actually.

See you soon.