Where the Heart Is

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By Tara Dear, Yale-NUS ’17 – See bio

There’s an Australian folk song which, if you’re in the habit of flying Qantas Airlines, you may have heard of: its rather wordy title is “I Still Call Australia Home.” To be a true Aussie, it gently reprimands me, I should be able to sing these lyrics with a clear conscience: “I’ve been to cities that never close down/from New York to Rio and old London town/but no matter how far or how wide I roam/I still call Australia home.” Well, I guess it’s time to put aside the patriotic fervour for green and gold, get used to catching an MRT not a kangaroo to the shops, and exchange a mandatory love of cricket for the ability to eat for social reasons at any given time of the day. If Pumba of Lion King fame is right and “home is where the rump rests,” then I suppose I’m Singaporean now.

As a matter of fact, I’m at this present moment in Beijing and my rump is resting ten floors up in an apartment block that is part of a complex housing around 25 000 people. That’s roughly one-twelfth of Canberra’s entire population living in my house. For a girl who’s grown up in a city devoid of skyscrapers, perhaps you think I’d be enchanted by the view; that would be true, except that on all but the clearest and cleanest days, the horizon is obscured by Beijing’s famous and ubiquitous smog. It’s an odd feeling not to be able to see past the next building, and knowing that every time you breathe, you’re inhaling the combined dust, dirt and grime of about twenty million people – the entirety of Australia – crammed together in one city, but still, I’m glad to be here. My goal is to pursue, belatedly, that Singaporean requisite – to speak, for the love of the Merlion, at least one language other than English.

But at the time of writing, I’m still on a high from my two-day stopover in Singapore. May I extend my sincere gratitude and affection to all the interns at YNC who allowed me to crash their place for a good twelve hours, from midday to midnight; in that time, we decided we’re going to start a choir, (specializing in Disney! Anyone out there interested?) a yoga/meditation society, and possibly a hair-braiding club where anyone with long hair and a high tolerance of public humiliation will be welcomed with open arms.

So there may be a shortage of koalas and kookaburras, but homesickness will not be an issue over the next four years; there is simply far too much to do, see, learn and become! For all admitted YNC students, I offer a hypothetical high-five in time-honoured tradition of celebrating mutual victory; for all applicants, the very best of luck. This college is fizzing with truly unique opportunities and adventures, and I can’t wait to get started – because, after all, there’s no place like home.

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