“I moved to Singapore from Sydney when I was about eight. I stayed here for eight years, and when I was 16, my parents sent me to boarding school in Australia as they had already made plans to retire in Bali. It was getting quite stressful here for everyone in the family anyways.
It’s the school holidays right now so I get the chance to visit and spend time with them in Bali. But because my Visa expires every 30 days when I’m there, I’m spending a couple of days at my maternal aunt’s in Singapore before flying off to Bali again.
Bali is really relaxing. Sometimes it’s boring, but it’s mostly chilled. I go to the beach all the time to think and read. It’s a nice change of pace from boarding school where I don’t get a lot of personal time because I live with girls, so it’s a very social environment that I’m in.
I’m in my final year currently, and I have to take a big exam at the end of the year. It’s kind of scary but it’ll be okay. Going to school in Australia is not as stressful as it is in Singapore. It gets very competitive here, and balancing school, sports and a social life can get tough.
I started feeling the pressure in primary school because I started tuition right away. I’d wake up at 6.30, go to school, have tennis training after that from 3 to 6, go home, study and head to bed at 9.30. If I stay up, it’s to study.
In Sydney, you don’t always have to be the best at everything that you do. You can prioritise your goals and think about what inspires you. In the future, I want to pursue something related to humanities, like literature or journalism.
I like reading a lot, and I’ve been writing quite a bit for school. I recently won the senior writing award in a school competition. I wrote a story about the pressures of social media because we are living in such a technological world and it really shapes who we are today.
My ethnicity? I don’t really know what I am. My mom is half Chinese and half Malay and has a bit of Turkish blood apparently. My dad’s German and Polish. It gets very confusing for certain people.
When I’m in Asia, people think I’m White, but when I’m in Sydney, people think I’m Asian. It’s as if I don’t have a constant identity; it fluctuates wherever I go.
But living in Singapore did allow me to get in touch with my Malay heritage. I missed it last June because of school, but I enjoy celebrating Hari Raya in Singapore. I like dressing up in the baju kurung and seeing how each family wears the same colours when they go visiting.
The food is really yummy too. My favourite local dishes are rendang, chicken rice and nasi lemak. I miss iced Milo as well because they don’t have it in Australia. There’s iced chocolate but it’s really not the same.
Yeah, I do see Singapore as home because I have family here, but I consider Bali home too because that’s where my parents are. I call Sydney home as well even though boarding school is a temporary living arrangement because my sister goes to uni there.
I guess I don’t really have that one constant place I call home. Home is wherever family is.” – Emma, 17
Interview by: Arman Shah