“I started travelling solo in my early twenties, and have known for a long time that I’ve wanted to live in different places around the world. In 2014, I got a job offer in Beijing and decided to go for it, though I’d never imagined living in China before that! Hated the job, loved the city, and ended up staying in Beijing for almost three years.

While I was in Beijing, I met my fiancé Martin. He’s American and is very much on the same page when it comes to travel and adventure. He had been in Beijing for six years and was ready to leave, while I was just starting to really enjoy the city and making good progress with the Chinese language.

We compromised with staying another year in Beijing and leaving for somewhere else after. He wanted somewhere where he could learn a new language, while I wanted another big city to explore and write from. After the fall of the Russian ruble in 2014, Moscow had become a capital city in Europe that we could afford to live in, so we chose there!

The first weeks in Russia were incredibly difficult for me. In Beijing, there had been a huge expat community and a lot of diversity. In Moscow, you really stand out if you’re a person of colour. People don’t smile much, and it felt hostile. The subway is full of grumpy old grannies who glare at you from within their fur coats and fur hats; it used to really get to me.

Anyways, it’s good to be back in Singapore for the holidays. I always come home for Christmas. While I’m away, I see such ugly sides of Singapore on social media, and I’m always afraid I’ll come home to find that everything has changed. This never happens. Every time I come home, I find the same things I’ve loved about my home still there, as they always have been.

After living in China and Russia, the diversity we have means everything to me. We have a long way to go for honestly addressing issues of race and togetherness in Singapore; but, at least within my own group of friends and family, it’s home. Also, if they could stop trying to make my Katong hood so gentrified, that would be great.” – Loretta, 29

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