About a few weeks ago, a friend of mine who currently live in Singapore went to Australia for holiday with her family. When she got back to Singapore, she texted me and asked where do I like more to live in, Singapore or Australia and why. Eventhough she is Indonesian, she did not include Indonesia at all in her question for a quite obvious reason.
The first bit was easy to answer, I can easily write AUSTRALIA of course!! The second bit required more than a text message or two to answer. So, I better write my answer in my blog.
There are some reasons why I like living in Australia more than Singapore (and Indonesia). The first reason is because of the freedom. I feel totally free to discover and be myself. No one is going to judge me (at least not in the face value) of what I’m doing, how do I practice (or not practice) my religion, whether I am married, divorced, single, gay, a high ranking officer, a student, or a cleaner. So far, everyone respects another person way of life. So to some extend, if someone would like to be very religious they are welcome to do so and if someone wants to be an atheist, no one cares.
When I was living in Singapore almost whenever I hopped into a taxi, the taxi driver will asked me where do I come from or whether I am a Phillipino. If I tell them I am Indonesian, they would say that I don’t sound and don’t look like Indonesian. Somehow I feel being an Indonesian is derogatory there. There are some pre conception in mind that if you are Indonesian in Singapore, you may be a maid or looks like a maid, a bit uneducated and might be marrying an old Singaporean guy no one wants there. Plus if you meet other Singaporean friends or colleague, once they know that you are Indonesian, they will say ‘my maid is Indonesian’. Honestly, I don’t feel good when people tell me that. It is like telling me that ‘oh.. your kind is cleaning my toilet bowl and some of them died when they try to hang my clothes off the bamboo clothes hanger’.
In Australia, if people know that I am originally from Indonesia. They would say ‘I’ve been to Bali and it is beautiful’ or ‘I’ve learnt Indonesian in school a few years back’ or ‘I had a friend whose mother is originally from Indonesia’. Whatever they say, I have never had any hint of putting me down as a person who is originally from Indonesia here. So I feel free and proud to tell them that I was born in Indonesia.
The second obvious reason is because Australia is simply gorgeous. I only need to look up to the blue sky to be grateful living in this country. The sky is so blue and sometimes at night we can see the stars shining upon us. Some of us will go to the beaches, parks, wineries, lakes, and other outdoor amusement activities instead of going from mall to mall from Plaza Singapura to Tanglin Mall in Orchard road of Singapore.
The third reason is because I can feel equal living in its real multicultural society. Singapore may claims that it is a multicultural country with its Chinese, Indian and Malay society live in harmony. Australia does not need to claim it because you can see and feel it whenever you go. If I go to Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and other restaurants; most probably the chef and/owner are from the country where the food originally come from. I can easily see people who were originally from France, Italy, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, South Africa, America, South America and many other countries here. These people who were originally from other countries, including the second generation, work in various field of work. We even have an Asian born minister (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_Wong) here. To some extend, it makes me feel equal. There is no such opinion that silently said that the Chinese are much better than the Malays because if you are born Malay, you might be lazy, have too many children than you can afford and might be a future homegrown terrorist.
The other reason is because it is possible to make a career change in Australia. I do not mean that if you are working for the Singapore ministry of defence then you change your career to the Singapore ministry of foreign affairs, which is; yes it is a different department but more or less the same. I know many people in Australia who changed their career completely. I know someone who used to be a dentist who become a diplomat, a cleaner who become an IT person, a teacher who become a doctor, a vet who become a scientist researcher, and many other examples. So if one wants to do something in Australia, there are rooms for second or even third chances.
My arguments may not be applicable to some people because it takes a lot of people to make the world. But those are the main points among a vast lists of why I prefer to live in Australia than in Singapore. Unfortunately, shoes shopping is not in those lists. There is no place I can find a size 4 high heels in Australia.