Home alone: independent living in Singapore

There are lots of scary things about going off to college. The independence, fitting in, moving, or socializing. There’s one particular thing that most people find the most terrifying – leaving their parents. For some of our seniors, they had to experience that a year early. Diogo Sousa and Rachel Young are two seniors who are living in Singapore independently this year.

After Diogo finished 10th grade in Singapore, his father got a new job in Portugal. “Unfortunately, I did not adapt well – even though I have attended 9 schools – and also my father’s job required him to move yet again to South Africa. I was not very fond of the idea of moving again after 6 months so I started to think about how Patrick Clifford convinced his parents to let him live in Singapore by himself in his senior year. I talked to my parents about it and that was it; they thought about it and gave me two weeks to decide whether to go with them or live in SG. I chose to move because I was already comfortable with the AP Program and I had just finished settling at SAS when we left. Coming back would have been easier and way more profitable to my education than Portugal.

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Rachel and her family on Thanksgiving in Taipei. Photo courtesy of Rachel Young

Rachel’s parents moved to Taipei at the end of her junior year, and she didn’t want to do her senior year of high school at a new school. “When we first made the decision for me to live alone, we talked to the school counselors and they gave my parents a list of homestay families that I could live with.”

Homestay is a housing system that allows tourists or people who are trying to study abroad to live with local families. The families have extra bedrooms where they allow students who don’t live with their parents to stay for an extended period of time.

“I had a roommate for four months, but she moved out so now I’m living alone and I like it a lot better,” Rachel said.

“I essentially ‘live’ in my room. I don’t have a roommate,” Diogo said. “I do have a guardian, but he too has his own life and thus travels often. My living situation is pretty good, I have everything organized and I have the freedom to choose who I want to become. Believe it or not, it is a huge privilege to give us the freedom to do whatever we want. I like it though, I understand what adults go through and even the maids. I mean, I have to cook, wash the dishes, go get doctor’s appointments, pay for phone bills – all the things that our parents do for us.”

There are several conflicts that come along with moving out of your parents’ house, whether it’s roommates or simply missing your parents. When your parents live in another country, what was once daily contact becomes much less frequent. Personal conversations become Skype calls, and shouts across bedrooms become long-distance text messages.

“I see my parents roughly once a month,” explained Rachel. “My mom and my dad will fly on cheap flights to come and visit me. I visit them in Taipei sometimes.”

Rachel’s living space at her host family’s house. Photo courtesy of Rachel Young

Diogo sees his parents even less. “I see my family every six months; however, for the past year I have seen them almost every three months. I visited them in South Africa and then they came to surprise me for my birthday,” Diogo added.

While Rachel doesn’t enjoy living alone more than with her parents, it’s taught her some valuable life lessons. “It has definitely taught me to grow up and take more responsibility for what happens in my life. Like I don’t have my parents to remind me about schoolwork or upcoming tests or anything like that. A lot of the time I also have to cook my own dinner, so I’ve had to learn how to do that. I still can’t.”

Diogo agrees. “Living alone is definitely not an easy task because almost everything you are used to changes. You have to become mentally disciplined because in my case, I have no one to tell me to clean my room or ground me when I should be grounded. In a way, I really do like living alone because it has taught me how to be independent and how to organize my life; but on the other side, I do miss my parents teaching me school subjects or even having quarrels with siblings. The best part about living alone is that you develop skills like organization, time management, and being able to be independent. And obviously it’s great not having a curfew and bringing your friends to your house whenever you want.”

One thought

  1. Wow, this is an eye-opening story about the SAS student body. It’s amazing to learn about the struggles, challenges and decisions these featured kids have gone through and I can tell they are well on their way to making the world a better place for it. Thanks for sharing this!


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