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Singapore's creative millennials are moving overseas for a more fulfilling life

Singapore's creative millennials are moving overseas for a more fulfilling life

Soul-searching

Text: Ethan Lee

Editor: Aravin Sandran


Rachel Goh, undergraduate

Why do you want to leave Singapore?
There are more education opportunities abroad. While I could have gone to a local university, the courses did not pique my attention. Furthermore, because I want to go into the field of academia in the future, the research output overseas is well established compared to that of Singapore's universities. Don't get me wrong; Singapore's education system has the reputation of being one of the best in the world. However, in terms of nurturing students, I find that we are often spoon-fed information. It doesn't allow students to grow and think of solutions outside the box.

On top of that, I can't see myself living in a country with no work-life balance. Working overtime seems to be the norm here. Work commitments are important, but what about family, friends, and mental health?

We should always take some time to ground ourselves because we can't be sprinting throughout our working life. We need to pace it. Mental health isn't given enough priority in Singapore, and there is still a lot of stigmas attached to it. Sometimes, it's even frowned upon. When you tell people you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, some will tell you to suck it up and push forward. While that may apply in some scenarios, it can't be the answer to everything.

If circumstances were in your favour, where would you go and why?
I'm currently studying in Melbourne, and I'm loving it. The work environment in the office I'm interning at is one of the best that I've ever had. It is nurturing and challenging. I've got the most supportive colleagues and they definitely help me to get through the work week. The occaisional wine and cheese parties at work also play a role, obviously.

You can't talk about Melbourne without its vibrant arts, cultural, and coffee scene. During my free time, I've been going to concerts, museums, cafes, and exploring everything else that Melbourne has to offer. I've made friends at concerts, and at some of the places that I've visited. I've been exposed to so many people of different cultural backgrounds. While Singapore is multicultural, expanding my mind and circle of friends have definitely taught me to consider more diverse points of views. It's always fun when friends invite you over so you can try the local cuisine of their country  Mauritian, Sri Lankan, and African food are so delicious. I do miss Singapore's hawker food and mum's homecooked food occasionally though.

What do you think you could achieve there that you aren't able to in Singapore?
Challenging my views and establishing a research career. Let's face it, people in Singapore are often afraid to voice out their opinions. People tend to be more agreeable because they want to be politically correct. If you don't challenge your views by listening to others, you're always going to be stuck in that safe little bubble that won't allow you to grow as an individual.

Dylan Ang, tailor

Why do you want to leave Singapore?
I feel lucky to be trained by one of the best bespoke tailors in Singapore, Kevin Seah. However, I feel that tailoring is a skill one can never master, but it's a learning journey. Travelling to other countries would be the only way to learn the techniques. With regards to tailoing, Singapore is still growing. It does not have a long history and its own style as compared to others. While I can grow my craft in Singapore, there is only so much I can possibly take away. Being able to learn from the best in the world would be provide me with great experience and honour.

If circumstances were in your favour, where would you go and why?
I would love to go to Japan. I have always admired their passion towards their craft, especially in their attention towards details. On top of that, Japan has such an amazing culture with so much to learn from, so it would definitely change my perspective!

What do you think you could achieve there that you aren't able to in Singapore?
It requires immense discipline to be able to produce work at the level of the Japanese. More than that, a lot of these Japanese tailors actually went to Naples to learn tailoring, so their style is heavily influenced by the Italians. Being able to learn from them is a double bonus as I could essentially learn Neapolitan tailoring with an Asian flair.

Maggie Lek, graphic designer

Why do you want to leave Singapore?
I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. I would like to challenge myself and attempt more ambitious creative works in a new environment.

I also want to experience a different working culture, and perhaps, a different approach to the design process. The work pushed out in Singapore is always on the safe side. I don't necessarily think that being "safe" is a bad idea, but I believe in having fresh approaches.

If circumstances were in your favour, where would you go and why?
I would like a stint as a graphic designer in Japan. As one of the design giants of Asia, many creatives look up to Japan for their impressive concepts and rigorous attention to detail. Their creative industry is renowned for their superb design sensibility.

What do you think you could achieve there that you aren't able to in Singapore?
It would be the level of creative freedom I am granted in relation to commercial projects. In Japan, most commercial works are impactful because of their unconventional concepts.

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