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Hello, Ciao,안녕하세요, Hallo, Hola, Selamat tengahari! My name is Rachael and I am a travel enthusiast. Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken my brother, sister and I on good ol' American road trips. It's safe to say that was where my interest in new places, people and experiences was ignited. As my parents always encouraged my siblings and I to explore and ask questions, I developed a sincere curiosity for new adventures. In addition to seeing much of the United States with my favorite travel companions (my family), I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Rome, Italy, as well as a semester in Seoul, South Korea during my college career. Now, I am honored to be taking part in a Fulbright ETA Scholarship to Malaysia for a year! My family's favorite motto is "Life is all about the journey, not the destination." I invite you to join along in my journey of cultural exchange and mutual understanding in Malaysia! After all, the more, the merrier.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Singapore: My concrete jungle

Being away from my lovely family and community in America for such a long time was tough at times. However, I was always reassured that someplace comfortable was somewhat within reach – Singapore. Singapore is home to my friend Clement and his family.

Clement and I exploring Kuala Lumpur!
January 2012
I met Clement while we were both exchange students in Seoul, South Korea in 2009. Over the years, we kept in very good touch with letters, emails and Skype dates, although we never knew when we would see each other again. During my Fulbright stint in Malaysia, I was able to see Clement on four different occasions. Clement came to visit me during my first week in Malaysia, and we explored Kuala Lumpur together. It was very comforting, and I went to visit him and his family in Singapore three times.

During my first trip to Singapore in April, I saw Singapore as a tourist. Clement took me to see all the sights, such as Marina Bay, the Singapore Night Safari and the Singapore National Museum. He also introduced me to kaya toast, koi bubble tea and Chinese food. Moreover, I stayed with Clement and his family in their home, so I was able to meet his family as well as his relatives who came for a get together one night. It was the perfect introduction to Clement’s home life, as well as the city he comes from. In addition, it was the first time I was able to attend church since moving abroad. I was able to attend service with his mother and sister at New Creation Church with the reknown Pastor Joseph Prince. All in all, after my first visit, I could not wait to return again!

Clement, Andes, and I reunited after
three years!
Exploring Singapore, Clement's hometown.
Marina Bay, Singapore. April 2012.
After the Singapore Mizuno Wave Run.
September 2012.

I returned in September for the Mizuno Wave 16K Run. During that trip, I was also able to see my friend Malena from Germany who was temporary stationed in Singapore for work. Similar to Clement, I met her while studying in Seoul, Korea and we had kept in touch. We enjoyed a great night out on the town and great conversation! In addition, Clement and I met up with our friend Andes, also from our days in Seoul, who was visiting Singapore. We enjoyed awesome pork soup, as well as koi tea! It was a perfect day!

On my 16K race day, Clement and his dad cheered me on as I ran through the streets of Singapore. Clement even ran the last 4K with me, and he was my photographer as I crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of my goal time! After the race, I went to church with his mom and sister. For lunch, we all enjoyed Chinese dumplings. They all commented that my chopstick skills had improved a great deal since my first visit to visit them five months before.

Enjoying delicious chili crab and seafood
with Clement's family!
After I moved out of my house in rural Besut and before I headed back to the States, I visited Singapore for the last time. Once again, I stayed with Clement and his family. However, this time, me and Clement’s friend from Korea, Sunny, came in for the weekend as well! She had been working in Vietnam. It was one grand reunion! The three of us did some sightseeing, and enjoyed excellent conversation. Clement’s family took us out to a big dinner filled with fancy seafood and I learned how to eat complicated dishes that I had never tried before. I can honestly say, it was the first time I have ever thoroughly enjoyed eating seafood. Clement, Sunny and I also went to a club one night to experience Singapore nightlife. On our last night together, we went to a nice hotel in Singapore that played jazz music. We sat eating peanuts, laughing and enjoying one another’s company!

Sunny, Clement and I!
Clement and I watched as Sunny left through the departure gate, and we reflected on how grateful we were to be able to spend one whole weekend together. Clement and I grabbed burgers before I had to depart, and we enjoyed the last hour we had hanging out together. It was a tearful good-bye at the departure gate. I was so happy that my year in Malaysia allowed me four opportunities to enjoy his company, but I was sad because we did not know when we would have that opportunity again.

Saying farewell.

One of the greatest blessings during my year in Malaysia was Clement and his family. Weekends with them served as a ‘rock’ of sorts, reminding me of home and making me feel welcome. Singapore became a second home, and it is the place I will miss the most from my year abroad. Clement’s family provided me with such a comfortable place that I always looked forward to coming back to during my year in Malaysia. They made me feel at ‘home’ even though I still remained so far away from America and my family. For that, I will always be incredibly grateful. They are planning a trip to America, and I only hope that I can show the same hospitality to them! 
My German friend Malena and I, reunited in Singapore after three years!

Clement's mom and I enjoying a day out all together!

KOI Bubble Tea - It's amazing.
Clement, his brother Ben and I enjoying a beautiful view!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Miss,

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