by Rachel Tan —

Have you ever wondered what living in America is like? I should know. I stayed in California for one year because my father had a scholarship to go to America.  Now that I am back in Singapore, I have realised how different these two countries are.

When I reached America, what struck me most was the environment.  The environment there is much cleaner and there is more nature all around.  The sky is always a cloudless blue and everywhere you look, you can see grass and trees surrounding you. In America, there was a lot more wildlife.

Just outside my house lived a jack rabbit whom my family named Fat Jackie Joe. We even saw a whole family of wild raccoons in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. In Singapore, all you see when you look around are tall buildings towering over you, and just before I left for America, Singapore was experiencing a bad case of haze.

In America, there are also different seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter.  In the spring, I went kayaking with my family and saw cute otters and sealions. In the summer, I would go to the beach and swim all day. In the autumn, I went camping with my parents and played with my sister among the fallen leaves. In the winter, I went skiing and had snowball fights with my friends.

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However what was most memorable about my stay was being able to go to an American school. The students in America are less stressed out and have more free time and freedom than the pupils in Singapore.  For example, in Singapore I would have to carry a heavy bag, full of books to school, but in America, all I had to bring to school was my lunchbox.

In Singapore, school also starts earlier than in America.  This allowed me to wake up later on school days.  All I had to do was jump on my bike and I would be at school in five minutes.  I also did not have to wear a school uniform to school, but could wear whatever I wanted to.

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After every year in Singapore, students are forced to take exams, but in America there is no such rule.  Instead of learning history through textbooks, we did a skit on the Civil War, where we dressed up as different roles in American history.

Instead of learning science through tests and assessments,  I participated in the science fair, where I made an electromagnet. In America, I also got a chance to learn how to play the flute. My only homework was reading a storybook for 30 minutes a day and doing 1 page of simple math sums.

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I also met people and made some new friends in America.  At first, I could not understand what they were saying as they had a different accent from Singaporeans. Since it was an international school, I made friends who were from different cultures. We would play in the courtyard and talk about school, just like  when I was back at Singapore. In the courtyard I also made friends with children that were younger than me and learnt to take care of them.

However, as fun as California was, I realised that I learnt more in Singapore.  When I got back I had a lot of learning to catch up on, especially for Chinese.  Waking up earlier also helped me get into the habit of starting my day early and allowed me to get enough sleep. It also helped that I did not have to think about what to wear every school day.

America may seem more fun than Singapore in many different ways. My year in California left me  with many unforgettable memories.  However, my heart will always be in Singapore, because that is where my best friends and family are.

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Editor’s Note: This post is written by an 11-year-old girl who had the opportunity to be educated in Singapore and America. This post is written in her own words and the opinions expressed are her own. Please leave constructive feedback or positive comments for the young author to encourage her to continue writing and expressing her view points. We greatly appreciate your support. 

Do you have a junior budding writer at home? Or someone struggling with writing assignments? Please email me at meiling@universalscribbles.com if:

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One Comment

  1. Hi Rachel, thank you very much for sharing your wonderful experience in California! I love how you adapted to the life so well, though you were only there for one year. The way that you described the four seasons and the wild life that you observed is very lively. Hope you have settled down in Singapore and all the very best!

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