Never have I ever been known as timid or shy.
This changed as I began attempting to make friends in Asia.
I have the best job, hanging out with brilliant kids that are hilarious and exciting. However, they are 10 and 12 years old. Hanging out with pre-teens gets a bit old after a month.
Between Khue's constant pestering about whether or not I had "finally made friends" and my Aunt's attempts to help me get out and meet people, I finally went out on the town.
I posted up at a local bar called Wala Wala in Holland Village, a quaint little shopping area housing local pubs, grocery shops, eateries, bakeries and a few cosmetic joints. On the weekends, the roads are blocked off to vehicles and hundreds of people stroll through the shops, pick a place to sit for a bite and a drink or two.
Why did I chose Wala Wala? Well, when I was walking past, I heard a familiar song: "Crash and Burn" by Thomas Rhett. I hope you are as baffled as I was. Hot country has made it to Asia. Yes, hot country has landed in Singapore.
I was taking advantage of the 18-year-old drinking age and ordered a corona, the only beer I knew on the menu. As some of you shudder, keep in mind I eventually met people who helped me navigate the drink menu.
After sitting alone for about 2 hours, I felt pretty discouraged. The only comfort was the waiter who obviously felt sorry for me — and the free WiFi obviously. The same sympathetic waiter later introduced me to a lady named Cassandra. She was old enough to be my mother, but we had something in common: We had both lived in the U.S.
Cassandra welcomed me into her squad of friends, all of whom were substantially older than me. The way I saw it, a friend is a friend.
We sat by the bar and listened to live music performed by a local band. The group I was with exploded with laughter when we heard the catchy guitar riff start the internationally-known "Sweet Home Alabama." You bet your TigerCard I taught them exactly when to scream "War Eagle!"
That night was one I will never forget. That's not the last of the friendship tales though. About two weeks ago, two boys came to my front door selling car-wash tickets for a charity that their university, Singapore Management University, sponsored.
I had just gotten out of the pool and was reading on the couch when I heard my aunt calling for me to come to the door. I walk up to find two boys — I assumed they were close to my age — standing on my front steps.
My aunt pleaded with them to "take me out" and to "be friends." They looked at each other with a glimmer of curiosity in their eyes and smiles on their faces. I knew this had to be the strangest occurrence to them. Nonetheless, we exchanged numbers, and 4 hours later we were all getting to know each other over beers in Holland Village.
Ryan, a student in economics, and Eugene, a student in political science, were 22-year-old freshmen at SMU. That was a common age to begin University in Singapore, because all Singaporean boys must serve in the military for 2 years, starting at the age of 18. Once they are released from service, they begin schooling again.
The differences between them and me was mostly cultural. I asked what it was like to live in Singapore. They asked what "mudding" was. We grew up in completely different environments, but we all experienced some of the most basic aspects of living as a young adult.
They were beyond curious about Alabama and the many Southern stereotypes. And I wanted to learn as much as I could about life in Asia. Most people I met in Asia dream about coming to the U.S. Sometimes all I want is to be anywhere else.
I have learned three things: Everyone dabs. Alcohol in the U.S. is insanely cheap — college students should feel blessed. And lastly, everyone wants to be somewhere else in the world.