As prescribed by Paulina Constancia
From Canada we head to Singapore to meet with another seasoned mover – our Japanese friend Hiromi Nonaka. Let’s listen to her stories and survival tips…
Name: Hiromi Nonaka
Home country: Japan
Current Country of Residence: Singapore
DDoA: Why is your family constantly moving?
MN: It’s because of my husband Masaro’s transfer/job switch. We first moved overseas (Australia) in 2006, just after we got married. When we were in Japan, Masaro always wanted to work overseas and was looking for the opportunity.
Fortunately, he found a company with which he could advance his career overseas. He quit his job in Japan and joined the new company. Singapore is our home base now and we probably will stay here for a while. But we may move to another country if Masaro gets another transfer again.
DDoA: How many times have you moved already?
Australia: April 2006 till March 2008
Singapore: April 2008 till March 2011
Thailand: April 2011 till September 2011
Singapore: October 2011 till present
DDoA: TIPS: Before leaving current country
HN: I usually buy things like crafts as a memento. I bought an aboriginal drawing in Australia, and a pottery elephant and a drawing in Bangkok. Oops, I just realized that I didn’t buy anything before leaving Singapore in 2011!
Before moving, I do some research on the new country mainly by browsing the Japanese community website in that country. This way, I get local living information from a Japanese point of view.
TIPS: Upon arriving at new country
I walk around the neighborhood to know more about the place, check supermarkets, especially stores with Japanese food. I probably do the same things that many people do in the new place.
DDoA: SURVIVAL TIPS:
HN: When I moved to Thailand, a non-English speaking country, I brought with me a few books about learning Thai.
Unfortunately, I could only learn a few Thai words. I also kept in my purse business cards of shops/hospital/my apartment that showed their name/address both in Thai and English. I always showed them to taxi drivers when going to these places so they could easily understand where I wanted to go. If my friends know someone in the new country I usually ask my friends to introduce me to them. Before moving to Singapore and Thailand, I asked my friends in Japan for email/tel numbers of their friends so I can get more living info from the locals.
DDoA: Your easiest and worst ‘move’ experience?
HN: When we were in Sydney, Masaro got a transfer to Singapore just a few months after I started working. I had to give up the new job. That was the most difficult move.
DDoA: Your favourite country to live in. State reasons.
HN: I want to live in Australia again. Sydney for example is a metropolis surrounded by natural beauty. The size of the city is just right for me…. It’s not huge like Tokyo or Osaka but not boring at all. You can have a good balance of work and private life.
DDoA: Your least favourite country to live in. State reasons.
HN: There is no least favorite country to live in. I only stayed in Bangkok for half a year and would love to live there again if given the chance. Singapore is a good place to raise children and to work (especially for women) although some people say it`s a boring country.
DDoA: How does the constant move affect your children? your family life? your personal goals?
HN: There are both advantages and disadvantages about moving constantly. When our kids start going to school, constant moving will influence their school life. But on the other hand, living in different countries gives not only kids but also parents great experiences to learn the different cultures, society, people…..As for raising kids overseas, passing over Japanese culture is always my concern. There are many seasonal traditional events in Japan but they miss experiencing them.
As for me, the constant moving doesn’t allow me to continue to work for the same employer. I always have to look for a new employer at a new place. Although I have stayed only in 3 countries it’ s difficult for me to find a new job, depending on the country. For example in Thailand, I found that many job postings require minimum Thai language skill. In Australia, as many employers want to hire PR holders, I had less employment opportunities even if my VISA allowed me to work without any restriction.
DDoA: Please share some of the experiences you’ve had in the different countries you have lived in.
I learned from my constant move that there are many many people coming from different backgrounds living in this world.
We may continue to move in the future. I want my kids, who are having a VERY different life from my childhood, to learn, accept, and share the differences positively, and to have flexibility and adaptabiity to difficulties or challenges in their life ahead.
So do… as Hiromi does – be grateful for the opportunity to live in a different country and experience a new culture. And before you leave, make sure you buy a keepsake to remind you of your life there, forever!