Interview With Sara Moulton: An American Teacher In Singapore
This week we bring you a special edition to our teacher interviews. I introduce to you Sara Moulten, who has been living and teaching in Singapore this past year. Transitioning from the island life of New Jersey to the island life of Singapore has had its differences, she tells all here.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up on a small island in southern New Jersey. After graduating from college, I taught English for five years at a school in New Jersey, but I’ve always had the itch to travel. For the last few years, I kept thinking that I might want to take a break from teaching in the States and move abroad. I’ve also always been interested in Asia and eastern culture. So it seems fitting that I now live in Singapore, which is also an island.
2. How have you enjoyed teaching in Singapore to date?
Yes. The students are interesting, and I learn so much from them. Because they grow up on a small island, they are forced to be aware of the world in a way that I am not. They are also endearing and eager to please; they love to have fun!
3. What advice can you give to new teachers interested in teaching in Singapore?
I think that being open-minded is the most important. There are some cultural differences with regard to parents’s expectations of teachers; I always remember that I am visiting and living in their country so I need to be respectful and flexible. Also, the tuition schools here don’t run on a Monday-Friday 9-5 schedule, which takes getting used to.
My teaching experience is with high school, so coming to Singapore and teaching students who are 3-13 years old has been different in a fun way. These kids have so much energy and they are so curious!
4. Can you tell us about a particularly powerful moment in your classroom?
One of my favorite things about teaching in Singapore is how multicultural the students are. I am always fascinated when I hear them speak their mother tongue to their mom or dad. Some of my students teach me Malay or Chinese phrases, which is a lot of fun. When my Chinese Singaporean students giggle at my tones, it reminds me how much I always have left to learn.
5. What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Singapore?
A downside of living here is that because it is a small island, it can feel congested. The Singaporean government did a great job of mapping the city and they have built community centers, doctors offices, and malls in each area so that the city center doesn’t get bottle-necked.
The nightlife is also different here. Because alcohol is heavily taxed and the MRT stops running at midnight, expats have to get creative with how they spend their nights out. But that is also part of the fun!
6. Have you had the opportunity to travel much in Singapore or in Asia?
I’ve been to Bali which I wrote about here and there. It was incredible to be there and experience a place that is SO FAR from home, but yet so accessible from Singapore. Many of my friends here go there just for a weekend!
I think as I settle in more, I will start to travel on the long weekends. Right now, my friends and I are planning to go to Thailand for Chinese New Year to get scuba certified which I’m definitely looking forward to.
7. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about?
I think that moving abroad has taught me to be resourceful and I’m learning to rely on myself because I am far away from home and my family. It is also the best decision I’ve made, and I think that anyone who is even considering a move abroad, should definitely go for it!
8. Do you have any favorite blogs or websites about Singapore that you’d like to share with our readers?
I follow Southeast Asia Backpackers, Expat Living. There is also a large Instagram community here so I follow @sgig, blank, and blank. It’s cool to see how both Singaporeans and expats view The Lion City.