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Tips from an expat mum: Leaving Singapore for Japan

By: Amy Brook-Partridge; photography by Erika Hartness

Junko Tilgner, her German husband Marco and their boys Tatsu (7) and Kaishin (4), are relocating to Junko’s home country of Japan after five happy years in Singapore. She tells me how she will miss her expat experience and what the future holds for the family.

Squeeeeeze! Junko with her little onesHow do you feel about your family’s relocation to Japan?
It feels like it’s the end of my holiday! Living in Singapore has been amazing; it’s so convenient, with everything at your disposal. I honestly have mixed feelings about returning to Japan. During my life I have moved 19 times, either domestically or internationally, so I have a strong nomadic spirit, but this move is different. My kids have been growing up in Singapore, and we have developed a keen sense of community. I do believe, however, that this will be a great opportunity for my children to develop roots.

Why have you moved so many times?
Most of my moves were domestic ones within Japan when I was younger, due to my father’s business, so I’m used to moving around and saying goodbye to friends again and again. The boys are very attached to our condo life here, and I don’t think they really understand that we are leaving.

What schooling did you choose for them during your time here?
When we first arrived we thought, “do as the Romans do”, and enrolled our eldest son, Tatsu (then 2½) in a local kindergarten. He didn’t enjoy the competitive approach so we then enrolled him into the German European School Singapore’s kindergarten. We really liked their holistic approach.

My second son, Kaishin, was born in 2009 in Singapore. The whole experience was superb, and even after we came home from hospital it was totally different thanks to my helper. Now he attends the Singapore Japanese School, and both boys are very happy in their schools.

You’ve lived in Siglap since you first arrived in Singapore. What drew you to the area?
We love the East Coast very much. Thanks to low-rise buildings and East Coast Park, we find the area really spacious and breezy. It was so easy to get settled in when we first arrived in Singapore; within ten days all our basic infrastructure, such as internet, phone and television, was organised. I have lived in Japan, the US and Germany, where it took much longer to get these things done.

 

My Favourite Things

Eating out: For a family meal we like to go to a hawker centre. We like laksa, hokkien mee and prawn mee, and the boys love chicken rice.

Travel: Trekking in Nepal, a river safari in Sabah (Borneo), and cruising the backwaters of Kerala (India) have been our top three holidays. For a family with young kids, being able to travel is such a great advantage.

Family activity: We love Hash House Horrors, which is cross-country running in the jungle. We get wet, dirty, muddy and stinky, and it is a great way to experience some of the wonderful natural environments in Singapore.

Just for me: I take part in two tennis tournament leagues, the Ladies Tennis in Singapore and WITS. I have made a lot of good friends through tennis here, which is one of the greatest treasures for me. 

 

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