Again I want to thank you for buying my book, It All Started in Mandalay, and your wonderful comments. Thank you Rachel for saying Paul was your favourite character as he brought himself back from the abyss. Thank you Eva for telling me how much you enjoyed the character development and loved the ending.
Unfortunately, we are not so lucky with this blog about finding jobs and working in Asia. . I am giving you MY opinions on working in Asia but that is just one western opinion. I was hoping we would open up a dialogue and WE would create the blog together by having all of you contribute with your own experiences. Please do not be shy about this and when you disagree with something I said or you want to add to it just go to the comment box. I am really looking forward to seeing your contribution here.
Cost of Living
As a principal or I think more correctly a headmaster, I was making about $10,000 a month including all of my perks like accommodation Sounds great, right? But I was paying something like $4,000 a month in rent, utilities are as expensive as in the western world and food probably more expensive.
Singapore is called" Asia lite" by a lot of people because if you want to live and work in Asia but you do not want to go to a restaurant where you see them kill the chickens for the soup, you might not even notice you are out of your western enclave. When you eat in a restaurant or visit an apartment , except for the heat and humidity everywhere you might even think you are in the west. I remember the first 'diner' I went to and it could have been Spadina Avenue in Toronto.
The subways are world class and the buses frequent ( but freezing because of the air conditioning) and the airport is one of the best in the world and fastest. The stores you shop in on Orchard Road could be anywhere in the western world. Of course, my thought is why go if it is like you never left home?
Because of the national myth of meritocracy, students will be the hardest working you will have in the world. All of the international schools are well equipped with every physical teaching tool you could imagine. I was also impressed with schools like Stamford and United World College and if you glance at some of their websites you will see fundraising for $30,00 million and things like that. All of the international schools have swimming pools, playing fields and so on. The "s" is not a typo! I attended many conferences and workshops at these schools and was always impressed with the students and the work they were producing.
On the other hand, if you cannot get into these schools the government of Singapore hires a lot of ex pat teachers, but just be prepared for classes of fifty students with little interaction with students. If you like to hear yourself talk, you might quite enjoy the atmosphere in these schools.
Quality of Life.
Like Vietnam, I did not like the restrictions on my personal liberties as to what I could read or where I had to cross a street. Having said that, whenever I asked women how they could live in such a restrictive society, they all said the same thing. I can walk home at night at any time and not have to worry about my safety. There was a supermarket across the road from where I lived and people always used to put their bicycles against the window and just go in a shop. Locking the bike was a foreign concept and I never witnessed one stolen. In fact, at school there was a teacher's washroom. One Monday I saw that some teacher had inadvertently left a $10 bill on the counter by the sink. No one touched the money and by Friday I simply put it in my pocket.Otherwise it might have sat there all year.