22 Jan 2019

Community - People

The OSL Intel: Moving Away from Home

As a new Overseas Singaporean Liaison (OSL) for the US West Coast, David shares more about his move to San Francisco with his family, how he curbs his homesickness, and how he reminds his children that Singapore is still home.

David Ho

With my wife Michelle, and sons Bryan (L) and Owen(R)

Hi! My name is David and I’m the Overseas Singaporean Liaison (OSL) for the United States (US) West Coast. My family and I moved to San Francisco in September 2018 and have been based here since then.

There are many young Singaporean families in San Francisco and the Bay Area as the awesome weather (think SG without the humidity and NO freezing winters), laid-back culture, coupled with beautiful natural scenery around us, makes it one of the best places in the US for families (I’m biased – but it’s true!). As an OSL, I enjoy meeting Singaporeans from all walks of life and learning about their experience living abroad. More often than not, after interacting with them, I would gain a newfound perspective on aspects of life in Singapore that we take for granted – such as our clean, safe and efficient public transportation system – and appreciate Singapore a lot more.

The boys enjoying a day out at Moonstone Beach

 Before my family’s move to the US, one thing that we knew we’d miss is our cheap and good Singapore hawker cuisine, and we still do! We’d definitely look out for Singaporean restaurants at most places we go, to try and help satisfy our food cravings. In most cases, however, we end up missing authentic Singapore food even more! One thing that surprised us after moving here was discovering the rich diversity of cusines in San Francisco and the Bay Area. But no matter which Singaporean I meet, we would always end up eating Asian food – be it Hong Kong dim sum, Thai or Malaysian, while comparing notes with equivalent stalls in Singapore!

Another aspect that we miss about home is our families and friends! We are blessed to have parents who love and dote on our kids a lot and are always there to help whenever we need them in Singapore. Despite being away, thank goodness for technology that at least gives us – especially our kids – some ‘face-time’ with our parents (pun intended) and maintain close ties, even when we are far away!

Enjoying quality time with my mum when she came to visit us in SF!

It’s important for my kids to remember that Singapore is still home – and with all the assessment books that we brought over with us, they have been duly reminded! Seriously though, I would think the frequent video calls made to our parents and friends in Singapore helps to remind them of home and the many loved ones who are waiting for us.

It also helps that we enjoy organising makan sessions with other Singaporeans near us. Speaking Singlish for an hour or two over delicious Singaporean food is the perfect remedy for curing homesickness! Of course, the effect only lasts for a week or so and that’s when we start planning the next gathering again. :)

At a recent gathering with Singaporeans in SF – can you spot me?

My advice to Singaporeans planning to relocate overseas? Bring lots of Singapore food paste or spice packets (like laksa, chicken rice…) and go with an open mind, as things may not be as efficient as Singapore is. The Singaporean community in the US West Coast may be quite well spread out, but this also means that no matter where you are moving to, you can be assured that there will be a friendly neighbourhood Singaporean who can share the latest lobangs and the ‘die-die’ must try Singaporean food in the area with you!



Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.