Expats Abroad, Indoors - 5 Singapore-based business travellers during the pandemic

As we enter the end of the 2-month circuit breaker period, how is expat living in Singapore like? We’ve spoken to a few expats on how indoor life in Singapore has been since April, far away from their home and loved ones.

The pandemic brought more than just inconveniences to everybody around the globe, no matter where you are or what your profession is. As a precautionary measure, Singapore imposed a ‘circuit breaker’ to halt the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 in April – closing the city state’s borders. 

As new arrivals to Singapore are served with a stay home notice for 14 days and while the rest of Singapore stay home, circuit breaker measures seem to be working, so far, but it’s more than the movement of the virus that has been affected. 

As an international hub, there are thousands of travellers and expats in Singapore all-year-round. These thousands found themselves in a state of limbo and uncertainty when their travel plans were affected by closures of borders of countries globally.

“I do appreciate some alone time but it’s hard to come by these days…”

As we enter the end of the 2-month circuit breaker period, how is expat living in Singapore like? We’ve spoken to a few expats on how indoor life in Singapore has been since April, far away from their home and loved ones.

Life in the pre Covid-19 era, as we remember it, was a hectic mess. Our days were filled with calls, meetings and not forgetting the hardly-missed daily commute. With little time to pause, reflect and appreciate what we have, family time was something Oran (not her real name) found more as many people moved their work to home.

“Since we’ve been staying at home I guess there has been more family time. My husband and I have been able to spend more time with the kids. But let’s face it, that is not always an easy thing. 

We used to send them to daycare and have work as a buffer. I do appreciate some alone time but it’s hard to come by these days. Still, we can’t complain because we are in good health and all is well. Do hope the restrictions are eased soon.”

 

– Oran Pacheco, 39 y/o

As a former child myself, I’m sure kids are really happy too, to have their parents at home every day!

Similarly, the extra time saved from commuting daily does give us extra time to pause and reflect on what’s really important. Amanda here shares;

“It feels more like a long pause. If you think about it, not much has really changed. We’re just doing things differently. Instead of working from the office, we work from the home – which I am starting to appreciate. We can still go out and buy our daily necessities and that is the most important part.

With all the Zoom social meetings, I’ve been keeping sane, hahahah! And MetroResidences always has these (virtual) community hang sessions so that’s a plus! Keep it up team! Stay safe!”


– Amanda Zuniga 31 y/o

“Everybody is in the same boat, I believe that there is not one person who is having a good time.”

In a comfortable fully furnished serviced apartment with air-conditioned and an equipped kitchen, Amanda does her daily cooking in the comfort and safety of her home. She plans her grocery runs to the still-open malls at Orchard Road, trying to minimise the need to go out often and reducing the risk of getting infected.

Expat living is all about experiencing new experiences. However, when Monika from Australia arrived in Singapore earlier this year, she never expected to experience nation-wide efforts to curb the spread of a new virus.

“As you know, I was supposed to be in Sydney by now. Because of this virus, I’ve had to extend my stay in my apartment. Everybody is in the same boat, I believe that there is not one person who is having a good time. The travel bans, although have ruined my plans, I believe, they are important to have.

The spread has to be contained and it all started when people travelled from one country to another. So while I am disappointed that my plans to go back home to see my family had to be cancelled, it is just something we all have to wait out.“

 

– Monika Cobb, 28 y/o

However, as a frequent traveller herself, she sees and understands that it is a necessary inconvenience. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was travel that played a major part in the spread of the coronavirus. Besides air travel, public transportation is less available around the clock and sanitised more often to prevent the spread back home to our loved ones.

As we’ve just celebrated Hari Raya here in Singapore, many made painful but responsible decisions to stay home – away from their hometowns and families. Thank goodness for technology, families like Hamzah’s are celebrating the holidays like never before.

“(Our) family back home have been very worried. The Covid19 infections in Singapore has been climbing higher each day. While we understand the spread is isolated to the dormitories, those outside Singapore don’t necessarily understand this.

My dad calls me every day on Houseparty to check on us and see how things are. As long as the numbers are going up, ‘Singapore’ will be listed as a country in Coronavirus-crisis. 

We’re just living day to day, trying our best to see this out.”

 

– Hamzah Almed, 45 y/o

“I feel kind of guilty…”

With the same technology available, we’re having our meetings over video calls for work. From fighting pets to our partially-nude partners accidentally walking into the frame during our video calls, some of us are glad that they do not have to take calls and meetings at home.

“I feel kind of guilty. During this pandemic where most of the world is suffering and people are struggling to make sense of everything – I am able to sit and home and just worry about what to buy for lunch. My company has paused most functions and I’m sitting at home ‘working’ (laughs). 

A lot of my work involves on-site meetings and facilitation so there isn’t really that much for me to do at home. Sure, they have us do these online ‘upgrading’ courses. I’ve got to clock about 14 hours of that per week. I just usually turn the course on and leave it running.

But the best thing so far about these measures is being able to improve myself physically. Thank god we can still go out for runs and cycle. I’ve been filling most of my time getting fit and I plan to keep it that way once this has passed.”

 

 – Erin Harris 34 y/o single

This means more time at home exclusive only to personal life. Without much to do (except chores), many like Erin are working on improving their physical health and fitness by heading outdoors. There is a risk (albeit a low one) of getting infected while exercising outdoors and if you are concerned about this, consider exercising indoors. With many resources and videos online, you do not need a huge space.

After the end of the circuit breaker, life will not resume to normal immediately. With restrictions planned to be lifted slowly over phases, many of us are expected to remain indoors. Let’s make the best of our time and emerge from this pandemic stronger and better than before!

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