The Expat Interview: Dani in Singapore

  1. Where are you from?

I am Italian. I was born in Bergamo, a beautiful ancient city located in northern Italy at the base of the Alps. The upper town, Citta Alta is encircled by stunning Venetian walls valued by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is not far from Como lake and only 60 km from Milano

Bergamo, and the upper city I highly recommended for its stunning views, amazing restaurants and rich history. Prior to my move to Singapore, I lived in Milan for 6 years as a student and hardworking Italian 😊.IMG_0163

  1. How long have you been living in Singapore?

I moved to Singapore in 2010 and have been on the go around Asia Pacific since. In addition to living in Singapore, I enjoy living in Hong Kong, Sydney and spent as so many beautiful days in Ho Chi Mhin City, Tokyo and Seoul and many other wonderful cities throughout Asia.  Of course, Indonesia (Bali) as with many expats has become a second home.FullSizeRender (2)

  1. Why Singapore?

I liked the name, lol.  Also, it captivated me, It felt completely unexplored.  One of the four Asian tigers. A city, country with incredible recent growth, an economic force in Asia, hub for trading, technology, finance, marketing… and a powerful combination of Eastern and Western cultures, cultures.

Some quick background on me.  During my last year at Bocconi University in Milano I considered taking time abroad as many students do, gain life and work experience internationally, as such I applied for an internship in Singapore.  However before making that leap, was advised to complete my master’s program. After graduation, completion I packed my suitcase with the goal to stay, work in Singapore for about 3 months.  That has turned into a beautiful career and life nearly 10 Years later.  Of course this was obtained through several challenges, sacrifices and hard work.

As I look back now at that decision, it is one I am most proud off.  It became a critical choice in life: an open mind, confidence, determination can get you far in life.IMG_0157

4. What are the top 3 things you like about Singapore?

  • It’s beautifully multicultural. There are some many different people in Singapore that I am exposed to. Language, religions, habits growth and learning. Distinct areas like Chinatown, Little India, Arab street.
  • Singapore is progressive, advanced and heavily tech oriented . For those who are Marvel fans I like linking this city to Wakanda of Black Panther lol. This city is a regional hub for many companies and start-ups. Since I started working here in a regional capacity responsible mainly of Asian developing markets, I always felt everything is possible in this region. It is one of the few places in the world where you can still test & amp; learn and make impactful changes.
  • It is the most efficient city in the world, simple yet unappreciated example : Changi airport is the World best airport and I couldn’t be happier as traveling is one of my strongest passion. From when I land to my home steps it takes on average no more than 30 minutes. Wanderlust is real here!

 

5. Is there something that shocked you about the local lifestyle when you first moved?

When I moved here almost a decade ago, Singapore was very different, and it has changed so fast for the better.

 

Back then I was missing the typical lifestyle of Milan: art, design, fashion…vibrant vibes and a the feeling of the cities soul. At work it was very challenging initially as the culture shock working with several nationalities, personalities, cultures and styles is demanding. Occasionally I sit meetings with ten or more different nationalities! This was never a real challenge, but more an opportunity but was for sure difficult at the beginning.  It now has become one of my favorite things about SG. Real  Change begins the moment you cross your comfort zone.

  1. What is the best thing about being an expat in Singapore?

I never considered myself a real expat, more a new local 😊. I moved here alone, built my career without being reallocated by a company or to follow a partner.  The best thing is the people. It is fantastic to be able meet so many people with interesting backgrounds and most of them with a positive attitude, wiliness to grow and take risks. Great examples are key drivers for doing better.IMG_8215

  1. How did you make friends at firsts?

Initially, I had zero friends and no connections in Singapore as the western community was very small and older. Now, over time and with such an open community, I have developed close friends all over the world.  Honestly it was very hard in the begging and I felt lonely many times, but that struggle made my success that much more important to me . I have been gifted with a great combination of local and international friends. Singapore has a unique culture for young professional that not only allows an ease to meet new people, but almost demands it. The only problem here is that you hope your new or established friends will be relocated too soon 😝  IMG_3740

  1. What is the best neighborhood to live in?

I live in Duxton Hill. It is in heart of the heritage center surrounded by beautiful shop houses, cool restaurants, cafes and night clubs. As comparison think about Portobello in London, West Village in NYC or Brera in Milan. The other areas that I love for living is Tiong Bahru which is a mix of boho French style and 60s Miami design with a Chinese twist.

East coast is another great option for outdoor lovers with a 15km park, great cycling, skating or scooting routes, and some of the coolest playgrounds in Singapore. It is also house of a lot of locals thus you can still find authenticity over here.

If you drive Sentosa could be a great option for ocean front lovers and families with kids.FullSizeRender (3)

  1. One nice place only the locals know about?

Singapore is a very small island, but it has a lot to offer due to the great variety of cultures. There are beautiful Peranakan stores in East coast and fascinating shop houses in Duxton Hill , Spottiswood area and don’t miss the scenic view of residential skyscrapers from the two rooftops at Marina Bay Sands: Ce La Vie and Spago Lounge that are great for an aperitif. ‘Gardens by The Bay’ is stunning, particularly at sunset when the colorful lights of the flowers are switched on.

  1. How do you usually spend your weekends in Singapore?

I travel a lot for work and pleasure. When I am not away I love catching up with friends for dinner or a healthy brunch. The good areas for dining are Dempsey Hill, Tiong Bahru, Kiang Siak road and Orchard area. I often revisit the National Museum whose architecture alone is a driver to visit . Especially the grand stair case and glass rotunda, also I ride along Marina bay gazing out over the city, with the Art Science museum shaped like a lotus in the foreground.   It has an instagrammable photo opportunity permanent exhibition by Team Lab. I love boxing at The Ring Boxing Community in Riverwalk. Running along the Garden by Bay. Hiking MacRitchie Reserve and strolling above the trees via the top tree walk.

When it is sunny, Tanjong Beach club in Sentosa is a nice escape for some music, palm trees , sun and beach fun.

I shop in the many Japanese stores such as Lumine for unique designers, Japanese plates at Meidi-Ya and food stops at Takashimaya and Isetan. Manifesto may be one of my IMG_8836 (1)favorite also concept stores.

  1. What do you miss about Singapore when you are away?

I miss a lot of things…the variety of foods, the efficiency and the infinite possibilities that you experience when you live in Asia, the energy in this vibrate in this country. Singapore satisfies my natural curiosity and keeps me motivated and inspired.

  1. Would you recommend Singapore as a destination for expat?

YES, with no hesitation. I would recommend any experience that expands people comfort zones. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every new experience.

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

 

Follow Dani’s expat adventures on @explorewith_dani

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