Cost of healthcare in Singapore: What to consider

9th July 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadSingapore is known for its top-notch healthcare system – great news for all of us, though it can also mean some hefty bills! To help navigate the issues around these costs, we asked the team at Pacific Prime to give us a better understanding of how the healthcare system works, the cost of healthcare in Singapore and what you need to factor in if you want to live here as an expat.#1 No subsidies for expatsSingapore citizens and permanent residents have access to various subsidised healthcare services through government healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, expats don’t enjoy the same luxury and will be charged regular high rates. To ensure that you don’t need to pay everything out of your pocket when living in Singapore, buying a private health insurance plan is essential. #2 Public vs private healthcare in SingaporeIn Singapore, healthcare is made up of two sectors: public and private. The option you choose will have a significant effect on the price you pay. It’s common for private clinics and hospitals to have a higher price range than public alternatives. However, the difference has become less steep over recent years since the two are in direct competition. So why is the private sector more expensive? It offers a better service level to start with as well as many add-ons. Private facilities usually come with shorter waiting times and more privacy.#3 High-quality healthcarePrivate facilities may offer more perks compared to public medical centres, but you can be certain that any hospital you go to will be of a high standard. Hospitals in Singapore are equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, well-maintained facilities and have highly-trained and caring staff. This is why the cost of healthcare in Singapore is on the high end. Both public and private facilities also ensure that the entire process is efficient from start to finish. All of these reasons and more are why many expats living in other parts of Asia visit Singapore for medical care.#4 Difference in doctors’ experienceOne option that you might have in Singapore is to choose to see either a junior or senior doctor. The local medical system values time spent practicing and experience, which means that a more senior doctor will come with a higher rate.#5 Costs and locationLocation is a key factor to consider when you’re choosing a clinic or hospital. Prices can vary depending on where the facility is located. For instance, a clinic in the Central Business District (CBD) is going to have higher prices than a family clinic in a suburban area.It’s advisable to find a doctor that’s close to your home and another that’s near your office. You might want to consider finding another one near your children’s school, just in case. To save on healthcare costs, you can secure individual health insurance in Singapore for access to a wide medical network and have inpatient and outpatient expenses covered. Handy tip: Be wary of cheap insurance plansYou get what you pay for when it comes to health insurance so don’t be enticed by health insurance plans with appealingly low premiums. These are usually too good to be true and often result in extra costs such as rejected claims. The most common risks associated with cheap health insurance plans include:A small network of healthcare providersUnpredictable premium increasesLow limitsLimited options for pre-existing condition coverage, or none at allMany exclusionsNo outpatient benefitsPoor customer serviceNeed some help?Whether you’re looking for individual health insurance or family health insurance in Singapore, consider seeking the expert advice of a reputable insurance broker such as Pacific Prime. Their team of experts are happy to answer insurance-related questions and help you customise the ideal insurance plan for your needs and budget. Contact Pacific Prime Singapore for advice or an obligation-free quotation.You can also check out Pacific Prime’s State of Health Insurance Report for a deeper understanding of key insurance trends.Written in collaboration with:Pacific Prime Singapore18 Cross Street, China Square Central, #14-056346 3781 | pacificprime.sgRead on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore:Top six health issues in SingaporeLocal vs international health insurance

Volunteering: How to help migrant workers

6th July 2020 by Melinda Murphy 4 Min ReadWant to know how to help Singapore’s migrant workers through the COVID-19 crisis? Here we meet DIPA SWAMINATHAN, the Singaporean woman behind one organisation that’s been supporting migrant workers for years – even more so now in this crisis – and we learn what we can do to pitch in too. There’s still a lot to be done after the Circuit Breaker period as nearly one in five people living in Singapore is a migrant worker, and more than 300,000 of them are living in dorms. Tell us about the organisation you founded.It’s Raining Raincoats started in 2015. I was doing bits here and there on my own to support the migrant workers. A Facebook post in a now-defunct group went a bit viral and the Singaporean Kindness Movement encouraged me to create an official organisation to support migrant workers.At the time, my suggestion was to carry around disposable raincoats and give them to migrant workers as they’re often caught in the rain without one. When the government asked me for a name, I came up with It’s Raining Raincoats. Now, we do a lot more than just raincoats.What’s the mission of the organisation?It’s a simple mission: support migrant workers. We try to do whatever it takes to do that, short of legal representation. No worker who comes to us in need goes away without help. We’ve been successful because we’ve come up with fairly simple, innovative and imaginative ways residents can reach out to migrant workers in need.You have a big job as the Assistant General Counsel at Singtel.How do you have time to do this too?I’m hooked. I get such satisfaction when we get these heart-warming messages from the migrant workers saying things such as, “Thank you. I was so hungry. Your gift meant a lot. God bless you.” It’s an empowering feeling knowing I can help somebody. Yes, it takes a lot out of me to do all this, but it also energises me. I wake up every morning buzzing with ideas, limited only by my time to give. It also helps that I have an amazing team supporting me.How does It’s Raining Raincoats help migrant workers?In normal times, we run several drives for migrant workers throughout the year. For example, at Deepavali, we do drive-by pizza drop-offs. At Christmas, we make sure every worker gets a gift, even if it’s something small such as Tiger Balm that the worker can use. Each gift is wrapped with a handwritten note. We have 30 to 40 collection points across the country for that. We also run a year-round activity, collecting unsold food from designated Starbucks outlets, four times a week, all year long. That obviously is suspended now, but we always need help with these types of ongoing things and we will continue to need help, long after the crisis has passed. Do you need volunteers?We have been very fortunate with lots of people reaching out to help the migrant workers during this crisis. In fact, the number of volunteers has swollen, doubling in size from our normal ranks and we now have about 500 people on our roster. Managing them all becomes a whole separate problem for an all-volunteer group. My hope is that we keep some of these amazing volunteers after the current crisis is over. There will be a lot of clean up from this such as workers not being paid; people too weak to work; breadwinners who no longer have jobs; figuring out where do they go and more. This will not abate soon and our worry is that this crisis will not disappear overnight.How can somebody help the migrant workers now?The best way to help just now is for a person to come to us with a fully-formed and executed idea. Once you tell us what you’ve done, we can then help with the last-mile assistance, meaning we can help you get your collection to the workers in need.For example, you can self-organise a drive in your condo, at your school, within an organisation or amongst friends. Once you have everything collected, we can help get it there. Normally, we accept pre-loved items, but just now, we need to be careful not to inadvertently bring germs to the migrant workers so all items must be new.If you look on the Facebook page, you can see what’s needed, but items to help pass the time such as games, puzzles and cards, old phones in working condition, data top-up cards, books and magazines in their language, and snacks are always appreciated. It’s better to give smaller amounts in bigger quantities so we can spread the joy. For example, give five $10 data top-up cards rather than one $50 card. The government is providing Wi-Fi for these workers, but there is always more needed.For more information about It’s Raining Raincoats, check out the Facebook page at fb.com/itsrainingraincoats.This article first appeared in the June 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!

Best hospitals for kids – and mums

1st July 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadA great benefit of living in Singapore is having access to top-quality medical care. There are many good public and private hospitals available for different healthcare needs, from family medicine and gynaecology to geriatrics and oncology. If you’re planning to start a family or already have kids, it’s handy to know which are the best children’s hospitals in Singapore. Read on to find out where to go for paediatric care and women’s health.Concord International HospitalThe private hospital has three renowned services: comprehensive cancer treatment, minimally invasive surgery and women’s health. They have a Women’s Centre which offers ladies access to all treatments in one place. There is a dedicated team of specialists, including oncology, breast surgery, aesthetic and plastic surgery and gynaecological surgery. They aim to provide patients with personalised service for greater comfort and quality of care.19 Adam Road KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH)Dedicated to women’s and children’s health, this facility is one of the most popular children’s hospitals in Singapore. KKH’s offerings include a breast centre, an endometriosis centre, a gynaecological cancer centre, and a plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgery centre. Patients will be accompanied in every step, from diagnosis to treatment. Emotional and psychological care are also provided when needed. Check out the hospital’s complete list of services now.100 Bukit Timah RoadMount Elizabeth Novena HospitalMount Elizabeth offers healthcare in a modern facility, with a comforting and stress-relieving environment. In addition to services for women and children, the hospital offers adapted rehabilitation therapy services, ranging from occupational therapy and physiotherapy to speech therapy and immunology.38 Irrawaddy RoadRaffles HospitalRaffles Hospital provides a 24-hour service for emergencies as well as family medicine and multidisciplinary specialist clinics. Its niche lies in strengthening western medicine with the benefits of eastern medicine to deliver the best possible care to patients. They have a specialised centre providing health services for children and infants as well as a fertility and women’s centre.585 North Bridge Road Singapore General Hospital (SGH)SGH sees patients referred by family physicians as well as specialists in both public and private practice. It is more budget-friendly as it is a government-run facility. They offer a comprehensive range of medical specialties and services, including breast surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and family medicine. To make stays more comfortable, they have bedside iPads for patients to access their individual medical information such as schedules, diagnoses, vital signs and test results. They can also ask questions and put in requests for water, pillows or housekeeping services. Outram RoadThomson Medical CentreThe family-friendly medical facility offers a variety of services, ranging from fertility and maternity to children’s health and Chinese traditional medicine. They also have a dedicated breast centre and a 24-hour family clinic for outpatient consultations.339 Thomson RoadWhere are they located? Want to know more?To find out more about the healthcare facilities in Singapore, check out UEX’s comprehensive list of private and public hospitals.Are you covered by health insurance?To understand how health insurance plans can cover your healthcare costs, approach the friendly UEX team for information and guidance. With UEX, you can obtain a quote for both AXA and APRIL health insurance contracts, customised to your needs and requirements.Written in collaboration with:UEX Global3158 3677 | [email protected] | uexglobal.comRead more in our Health and Fitness section.What vaccinations do my kids need?Is it time to renew your health insurance?

Save the Sea Turtles!

30th June 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 4 Min ReadThe breeding season for sea turtles is between April and October each year, and many of the resort islands around Singapore are focused on making sure that the eggs are protected and the baby turtles make it safely into the sea. The turtle population has been decreasing because the eggs are seen as an expensive delicacy. Apart from humans really not needing to eat more than they already do, all creatures have their role to play and turtles are a very important ‘balancer’ in the sea ecosystem.There are a few things we can do to help them survive in the sea, and we can definitely help keep them safe when on land. We asked the team at Telunas Resorts a few turtle questions and how humans can help. You can also read up on their own turtle protection programme too.  What kind of sea turtles can you find around this area?Indonesia: According to profauna.net, in the world, there are seven sea turtle species, six of which live in Indonesia. They are the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), flatback sea turtle (Natator depressus) and loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta).Malaysia: Malaysia is blessed with four marine turtle species out of seven known in the world – the green, hawksbill, olive ridley and leatherback turtles. (WWF)Singapore: The hawksbill and green turtles are the most commonly sighted sea turtles in Singapore. (NParks)These are the species seen most commonly at Telunas as well.Turtle TriviaThey can lay up to 100 and more eggs at a time and pregnant sea turtles will most likely go back to the same beach where they hatched (NOAA).Flatbacks can lay about 50 eggs while hawksbills can lay over 200 eggs at a time. Sea turtles can nest multiple times per season – “an average of between 2 to 8 nests per season.” (conserveturtles.org)What can humans do to help them?From NOAA:Use reusable water bottles, plastic bags, straws, etc. All these things can and will end up in the oceans, often harming sea turtles (they can mistake plastic for food, choking themselves or even getting entangled in plastic).If you fish, be mindful about fishing gear or fishing lines that you leave behind in the ocean. Take your trash and broken gear home with you and dispose of it correctly.Participate in ocean clean-ups. Be mindful of the trash you leave behind when you go to the beach and pick up any trash you see on beaches that could be harmful not just to sea turtles, but other marine animals. Balloons also very often end up in oceans; try avoiding the use of balloons.Fill in holes and knock down sandcastles before you leave the beach – they can become obstacles for sea turtles trying to reach the beach for nesting season. The same goes for any beach equipment: chairs, umbrellas, etc.Keep beaches dark (especially areas you know are prone to be visited by sea turtles). Bright lights are disorienting for sea turtles and they can discourage the turtles from coming to the beach to nest.Keep a safe distance from sea turtles if you meet them (in the sea or on the beach)! Don’t try to touch or feed them ESPECIALLY if they are nesting or hatching!Reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that you use in daily life. Find eco-friendly and biodegradable solutions.Why are turtles important in the sea ecosystem?According to seeturtles.org, sea turtles are a “keystone species,” which means that they play a very important role in influencing their environment and other species. They help keep population numbers in check. For example, leatherbacks eat jellyfish (jellyfish eat larval fish, meaning that there will be less fish that grow into maturity) and hawksbills eat sponges in the coral reefs (sponges can outgrow the corals and eventually kill the reef).Sea turtle nesting seasons themselves are a great source of food and nutrients for the ecosystem and other species: Eggs and hatchlings that don’t survive provide lots of nutrients for surrounding vegetation on the beaches. Birds, fish, mammals like raccoons and others rely on plentiful hatchlings to survive during nesting season.”Sea turtles are grazers, so they feed on the seagrass. Grazing on seagrass keeps the seagrass beds healthy, which also benefits the ecosystem because seagrass stores carbon and produces oxygen. Can visitors see the turtles at Telunas, when and how?Telunas Resorts proudly hosts hawksbill sea turtles. We have built a small make-shift hatchery to make sure a new generation of baby turtles safely reach the oceans every year. Nesting season usually occurs around April to November and we usually invite guests to partake in releasing them into the ocean. Due to the uncertainty of how many nests are successfully laid and how many eggs actually hatch from each batch, we can’t guarantee or schedule when we release the hatchlings.What are the survival rates of baby turtles once they’re in the sea?According to the NOAA: On the beach, hatchlings must escape natural predators like birds, crabs, and monitor lizards to make it to the sea. Once in the water, hatchlings are consumed by seabirds and fish. Few survive to adulthood, with estimates ranging from one in 1,000 to one in 10,000.What other eco-initiatives does Telunas have?As a company, Telunas has worked to become more mindful of our plastic consumption. We have worked to drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastics on our property and have found ways to continue with operations without them. For example, our trash cans have been redesigned so they don’t need plastic liners. We’ve found ways of wrapping and transporting items with reusable bags. We’ve significantly reduced our availability of disposable water bottles on our property. We sweep the beach multiple times each day to collect and extract rubbish from marine ecosystems, and we invite guests to participate in scheduled rubbish clean-up activities. Read our round-up for more information on resorts and short breaks from Singapore.

Trivia time: 20 trivia questions on history!

It’s time to challenge friends or family with Expat Living’s Weekly Quiz. You can get together with a small group, have a glass of wine and try these out – or stick to Zoom, of course! This week, it’s 20 trivia questions on history. #1 How long did the 1896 war between Zanzibar and Great Britain last: 24 days; 11 months; or 38 minutes?#2 In which century did the Dodo become extinct?#3 When it launched in 1911, the Titanic was the largest manmade moving object on earth. How many funnels did it have?#4 How did Joan of Arc die?#5 What kitchen invention was awarded first place at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893?#6 A ruler of which ancient civilisation is said to have had his slaves smeared with honey to keep the flies away from him? #7 What famous music festival was attended by 400,000 people in the US in 1969?#8 True or false: since the end of World War II, all British tanks have been equipped with tea-making facilities.#9 Place the following religions in correct order of their development, from first to last: Christianity, Buddhism, Islam.#10 In what year was the Berlin Wall torn down?#11 Which type of wireless technology takes its name from a Nordic king?#12 What famous city once had thoroughfares named Foul Lane, Stinking Lane and Bladder Street, which have since been renamed? #13 Where is Asia’s oldest university: India, Thailand or the Philippines?#14 An icon of the “Roaring Twenties” was a woman who wore shirt skirts, flaunted “respectable” behaviour and was referred to as a what?  #15 Which of the following dictators composed six operas: Kim Jong-Il, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein?#16 What was the name of the Sherpa who became the first to summit Mount Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953?  #17 Which American President rescued 77 people in his first job as a lifeguard: John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan? #18 Which civilisation was the first to use paper money?#19 Only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remains mostly intact today. Which one?#20 In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a 20-1 upset victory in a horse race in New York. What was unusual about his condition at the finish line?BONUS: Who am I?(If you can answer correctly after the first clue, you get 10 points, but you lose a point for each additional clue you require to identify the person.)I am a ruler from the ancient world. (10)My birth name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, but that’s not how I’m known to history. (9)I held power from the age of 17 until my early death at age 30. (8)My mother is alleged to have killed my predecessor, allowing me to fill his spot. (7)I later had her killed, just to be safe. (6)I participated in sporting contests while in power, and was awarded first place in every event I entered, even the ones I lost. (5)I’m a Roman emperor. (4)I’m said to have “fiddled while Rome burned” (even though fiddles weren’t invented for another thousand years!) (3)I’m best known by my one-word, four-letter name. (2)I am N___. (1)All the answers (no cheating!)#1 38 minutes#2 17th century (the last widely accepted sighting was 1662)#3 Four#4 She was burnt at the stake (in 1431, at the age of 19)#5 The dishwasher#6 Ancient Egypt (Pharaoh Pepi II)#7 Woodstock (headline acts included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Grateful Dead and The Who)#8 True#9 Buddhism, Christianity, Islam (around 2,500 years, 2,000 years and 1,400 years old respectively)#10 1989#11 Bluetooth. It’s named after King Harald (10th century), who was nicknamed “Bluetooth” probably on account of a dental issue. The Bluetooth logo combines the two Nordic runes of his initials. (Why name Bluetooth after Harald? Because he was said to be a great communicator who brought people together.)#12 London#13 The Philippines (the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, was founded in 1611 by Spanish Roman Catholic priests)#14 Flapper (as opposed to a wowser)#15 Kim Jong-Il#16 Tenzing Norgay#17 Ronald Reagan#18 Chinese (in the 7th century)#19 The Great Pyramid of Giza#20 He was dead; Hayes died of a heart attack during the race but his body stayed in the saddleBONUS: NeroLooking for something to do? See our What’s On section.

Guide to being self-employed in Singapore

15th June 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadAccording to the World Bank, as much as 14% of the workforce in Singapore in 2019 was self-employed. While you may have to manage most things on your own, there are benefits of self-employment, such as flexible hours, workload and more. This can be particularly handy if you have other commitments like taking care of young children. The team at Pacific Prime answers some FAQs about being self-employed in Singapore, including legal issues and health insurance.What defines being self-employed?In Singapore, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) categorises freelance work as a type of self-employment. Some other examples of self-employment include being a taxi driver, operating an online business, or working as a real estate or insurance agent.The IRAS has also compiled a list of important details for self-employed individuals to take note of, including filing for income tax. Can an expat be self-employed in Singapore?Legal self-employment in Singapore is only possible if you’re a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident. Additionally, you’ll have to pay income tax and contribute to your Medisave account, which is the mandatory medical savings program for all Singapore permanent residents and citizens. As an expat, you’ll need either a Work Permit, S Pass or Employment Pass to work legally. Fortunately, there are two ways around this. The first option is to set up a local business, which will require having a director who is a Singaporean resident. Alternatively, you can apply for an Entrepass, which will require you to incorporate a company. Additionally, you’ll have to raise funding or look for partnerships with approved organisations.What if my spouse or partner is a resident?It is illegal to work while you’re staying in Singapore under a Dependant’s Pass (DP) or a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) without a Letter of Consent, Work Permit, Employment Pass or S Pass. An employer would typically apply for a permit from the Ministry of Manpower.  The Letter of Consent, however, accommodates DP or LTVP holders who are living in Singapore under their spouse or partner’s EP. If the EP expires, the Letter of Consent immediately becomes invalid.Do self-employed expats need a business license?A business license isn’t necessary for self-employed or freelance work in Singapore, though some industries require it. For example, if you plan on running a real estate agency, you’ll have to get a license from the Council of Estate Agents (CEA). Similarly, you’ll need to get a license from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) if you want to provide a ride-sharing service. You’ll also need a license if you want to be a food stall hawker or an insurance agent.How about health insurance?Citizens and permanent residents in Singapore contribute to mandatory national health insurance called Medishield. All they have to do is pay an affordable yearly premium to help cover inpatient hospitalisation and medical treatment. As an expat, you’ll need to secure an expat health insurance plan in Singapore if you want to avoid paying out of your pocket. Most expat employees working in Singapore will have medical insurance from their employers. However, if you’re a freelancer or self-employed, your only option is to get your own personal health insurance. How does individual health insurance differ from employer-provided health insurance?One good thing about employer-provided health insurance (or group health insurance) is that pre-existing medical conditions are covered. Most individual health insurance policies, on the other hand, do not cover medical conditions that you had prior to purchasing the plan. That said, group health insurance plans often offer fewer benefits. For instance, some employers won’t provide coverage for dental, maternity or vision care. Buying your own plan allows you to choose the coverage you need. Are there any other insurance plans I should get?You won’t have access to worker’s compensation insurance, a type of employer-provided insurance that ensures you still have income if you can’t work for some time. The good news is that you can purchase business interruption insurance or other sorts of income protection instead. These can be real lifesavers in situations such as injury or sickness.Want to find out more?Pacific Prime Singapore has years of experience in helping expats and their families find the right health insurance plan. Its team of experts are on hand to answer insurance-related questions and provide free plan comparisons and quotes. Contact them now.Written in collaboration with:Pacific Prime Singapore18 Cross Street, China Square Central, #14-056346 3781 | pacificprime.sgRead on for more about insurance and other health-related topics in Singapore:Top six health issues in SingaporeLocal vs international health insurance

Being a headmaster in a crisis

My father was the headmaster of a tiny little school in the middle of nowhere in Africa, but I can’t imagine what it would be like being in charge of a large international school in Singapore. Especially in times of a crisis! I recently spoke with NICK MAGNUS, headmaster of Dulwich College (Singapore). Dulwich is one of the newer international schools in Singapore, but already regarded as one of the top international schools on the island. Its “mothership”, Dulwich College in London, is one of the oldest schools in the world.Dulwich College was founded by Edward Alleyn, a contemporary of Shakespeare, in 1619. Alleyn decided to establish a school in London that would provide sound learning, strong artistic pursuits and good manners. And that thread is still prevalent today throughout its international network of colleges, with a rich curriculum that not only focuses on academics but also sport, music, the performing arts and global citizenship. I asked Nick a few questions about how he and his team managed through the pandemic, from the challenges they faced to the things they learnt.Dulwich has schools in different parts of the world; did this help in preparing for the onset of the COVID-19 crisis?            Thanks to our connections with our sister schools in China, we received word around Chinese New Year that things were likely to get a lot worse. We started planning right away and were fortunate to benefit from the experiences of our international network of schools who were ahead of the curve and had already switched to e-learning. This gave us a significant head start; so when the Circuit Breaker kicked in eight weeks later, we were well prepared with our own e-learning programme.Once the penny had dropped that this was going to be fairly serious, what were your first steps? There are many crisis management exercises that organisations go through as part of leadership and management training, but schools and their leaders are particularly well prepared for such eventualities. Crises occur in different guises and schools must be proactive in trying to predict what will happen. We planned and then adjusted plans in line with what was happening on the ground, and kept communicating to make sure everyone was informed. It’s important to always have a clear reason and purpose for our actions, to support the students at the College. Nick Magnus, the headmaster of Dulwich College Singapore with some early years students.What were the key challenges for the teachers with home-based learning?Online learning for children under the age of seven can be challenging due to the level of personal interaction that this age needs with adults. My sympathies go out to parents who were trying to support their children’s learning at home while juggling their day jobs and worrying about loved ones all over the world.The wellbeing of our teachers, students and parents was always our priority, and getting involved in community initiatives helped to keep spirits high. We have had parents sewing masks, students organising deliveries of essential items and teachers volunteering their time with local charities. We are all in this together. The inventiveness, commitment and work ethic of teachers is always something I reflect on and it fills me with hope to see this in challenging times like these.What have been the main points to come out of home-based learning for you as the headmaster of Dulwich College (Singapore)?I think that certain elements of it are here to stay. Although we’re fortunate enough to live in a country where community cases of the virus are under control, I predict that other places around the world will be less fortunate; spikes and school closures may occur again. There is a temptation with e-learning to get caught up in the technology, but the technology is just the vehicle: it’s the teachers who make the difference. Teaching is at its best when it’s interactive and engaging, so the focus, whether it be face-to-face in the classroom or remotely through e-learning, should always remain on what makes good teaching and learning. How do children learn best? What inspires and interests them? If you continue to focus on this, then learning and a love of learning can take place anywhere.What feedback – positive or negative – have you had from parents? This has been a difficult and challenging time for everyone, and we’ve seen a huge change to the norm. That always brings anxiety. But our parents have been magnificent and incredibly resilient; their loyalty and support have been truly humbling as has the kindness and appreciation that they’ve demonstrated towards our teachers. We have sought feedback on a regular basis from students and parents, and where changes have been suggested we have adjusted the e-learning offering wherever possible. We’ve tried hard to remain flexible and adaptable, and to be nimble in adjusting course where necessary. Our partnership between home and school has never been stronger as a result. Dulwich College SingaporeWhat have you learnt from these last few months, and how does it affect your vision going forward? It has enabled us to have greater clarity on what the Dulwich difference will be moving forward. The world has changed, but necessity is the mother of all invention, and switching to online learning has forced us to think creatively. What we have realised is that there are actually many positives from our e-learning experience, some elements of which we will choose to retain as we go forward.Universities have long been promoting hybrid learning and we believe this should be our model for the future – a hybrid learning programme rooted in the best pedagogical research that draws upon the feedback of students on how they learn best. This is a pathway to personalised learning in the 21st century. One size has never fitted all and our children deserve the best. We’re already implementing this, and we’re calling it “The Dulwich Difference”.What do you love most about being headmaster of Dulwich? The future of education has never been so exciting. We’re at a crossroads. We can turn our backs on recent events and carry on as before or we can draw upon our recent experiences and proactively look forward to a brave new world. The kindness and support that I’ve received from our Dulwich family over the last four months means that there is no place in the world I would rather be. As parents, my wife and I consider ourselves so fortunate that our own children have the opportunity to go to a school like ours.singapore.dulwich.org[embedded content]

Fun kids’ toys and gear to buy

9th June 2020 by Lindsay Yap 3 Min ReadSummer’s looking a little different this year, with no travelling back home or heading overseas for a getaway. So, to keep the brood entertained, it’s handy to know where to buy kids’ toys and gear in Singapore. From scooters, activity books and games to backpacks and water bottles for a fun day out, here’s a list to get you started. (Thank us later!)White & Black TradingIt’s always nice to head out for some fresh air, but it’s even better to head out on a scooter! And a fun scooting sesh with the kids is a fab outing for any family. White and Black Trading is a great place to find some of the best kids’ toys in Singapore. The store offers a cool range of Micro scooters for all ages, including safety equipment such as helmets and lights, to keep everyone safe on the go. Plus, orders above $100 get free delivery. Psst… The store also carries other great outdoor toys including skateboards! We’ve got our eyes onThe new Micro Sprite Deluxe Black ($180) is the remake of the classic Micro Sprite scooter. It comes with a set of cool features, including integrated tube lights and reflectors, a longer rear brake, added mud guards, and a curved and wider handle bar for greater comfort. It’s perfect for older kids and teens.Great for kids aged six to 12, the Maxi Micro folding LED ($255) now comes in a new berry-red shade. It has sparkling LED wheels, which are not only cool but offer greater safety. The scooter can be easily folded with the touch of the hand.For the little ones (18 months and above), the Mini2go plus ($225) is a good choice. It comes with a parent handle and a detachable drawer and seat. Get it in blue, mint, red or pink.6521 7018 | sg.whiteandblacktrading.comHasbro Hasbro is known for its toys and games all over the world. From Playdoh and Nerf to My Little Pony, the company has loads of cool stuff to keep the kids happy and entertained for ages.We’ve got our eyes onThe Monopoly Longest Game Ever Board Game ($49.90) comes with an extra-long game board and cute tortoise and hare tokens. It’s different for the regular version as the game won’t end until someone owns every single property!Play-Doh has got to be one of the best toys from our childhood! Get down and dirty with the Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Drizzy Ice Cream Playset ($29.90). It’s easy and fun to use and comes with sprinkles, candies and a special “drizzle”. Ideal for ages three and up.Got young ones who love running around? They’ll enjoy having the Nerf Ultra One Blaster ($99.90). This cool product comes with advanced design and performance and can send darts flying up to 25 metres away.Products can be found at major stores, including Lazada and Toys’r’us.More great kids’ toys and gear!  Loop d’Loop Giant Bubble Kit, $25, Cj Bubble Productions Mini or Junior Giant Bubble Kit, $22 or $25, Cj Bubble Productions Game Blocks, $11.90 Tangram, $17.80 myFirst Camera Insta 2, $144 Herschel Little America Youth (Space Robots), $169.90 Herschel Heritage Youth X-Large, $109.90 How Cities Work Activity Book, $12.60 Trains Board Book, $12.60 Justice League 3D Backpack, $69 Justice League 2D Backpack, $55 Racer Car Pool, $83 Grey Rabbit Hopper, $53 Unicorn Hopper, $53 Mini Wind up Magnetic Fishing Game, $1.90 15cm Magic Spring, $2.20 Glow In The Dark Sea Animals Wall Decal, $1.60 per box Capezio Bunnies Studio Bag, $54.50 Capezio Heart Barrel Bag, $52.50 Personalised baby bib, $24.90 Personalised photo puzzle (12 by 8 inches), $28.90 Crocodile Creek Balls Dream Team Sports Activity Set Mermaid Tail Klean Kanteen Insulated Kid Classic Water Bottle 12Oz (Paper Dinos), $46 Klean Kanteen Insulated Kid Classic Water Bottle 12Oz (Unicorn Leap), $46 Wild Republic Living Ocean Mini 12” Shark Great White, $23.90 Parkland Edison Dino, $59.90 Parkland Sweet Sixteen Rainbow OS, $39.90Cj Bubble Productions | cjbubbles.com/eshopMini or Junior Giant Bubble Kit, $22 or $25Loop d’Loop Giant Bubble Kit, $25Kiddy Companion | kiddycompanion.comGame Blocks, $11.90Tangram, $17.80Kid On The Move | kidonthemove.com.sgmyFirst Camera Insta 2, $144Lazada | lazada.sgHerschel Little America Youth – Space Robots, $169.90Herschel Heritage Youth X-Large, $109.90Lonely Planet Kids | Buy at major bookstores or onlineHow Cities Work Activity Book, $12.60Trains Board Book, $12.60MELON | shop-melon.comJustice League 3D Backpack, $69Justice League 2D Backpack, $55Mothercare | mothercare.com.sgRacer Car Pool, $83Grey Rabbit Hopper, $53Unicorn Hopper, $53MTrade Singapore | mtradenoveltystore.comMini Wind up Magnetic Fishing Game, $1.9015cm Magic Spring, $2.20Glow In The Dark Sea Animals Wall Decal, $1.60 per boxOKHBallet Centre | okhballet.comCapezio Bunnies Studio Bag, $54.50Capezio Heart Barrel Bag, $52.50Photobook Singapore | photobooksingapore.comPersonalised baby bib, $24.90Personalised photo puzzle (12 by 8 inches), $28.90The Children’s Showcase | thechildrensshowcase.comCrocodile Creek BallsDream Team Sports Activity SetMermaid TailThe Planet Traveller | theplanettraveller.comKlean Kanteen Insulated Kid Classic Water Bottle 12Oz (Paper Dinos), $46Klean Kanteen Insulated Kid Classic Water Bottle 12Oz (Unicorn Leap), $46Wild Republic Living Ocean Mini 12” Shark Great White, $23.90Zalora | zalora.sgParkland Edison Dino, $59.90Parkland Sweet Sixteen Rainbow OS, $39.90Looking for more for kids?Preschools & kindergartens reviewedSeriously cool kids’ furniture

6 ways to help out during COVID-19

9th June 2020 by Expat Living 3 Min ReadMillions of livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19 – and we’re not sure how long the situation may last. If you’re in position to help those in Singapore who are struggling in the pandemic, from small businesses to vulnerable communities, there are lots of options. Here are some ideas for starters – a small act can go a long way!#1 Shop onlineMost of our favourite stores may not have opened their doors yet, but we can still show our support by shopping online. Whether it’s your favourite furniture store or grocer, many companies have online platforms that are easy to browse and order from. Best of all, you can get everything sent right to your doorstep.#2 Buy cash vouchers or packagesSome brands and entertainment centres are offering advanced purchase packages and cash vouchers that you can use when things are up and running again. Not only will you be helping them through this difficult time, you can look forward to enjoying their services later on! #3 Choose localAnother thing you can do is to visit your local hawker centre and drop in to small neighbourhood eateries and cafés that may be having a tough time. It’s the smaller places that really need our help right now! Plus, there are also small home-based businesses that we can support.We also have a great list of restaurants with delivery and takeaway options – some have great dining deals to snag! And, if you’re able to, it’s a nice gesture to add a tip for your food delivery guys (or even order a meal for them – GrabFood allows this option).#4 Volunteer your timeCharities and organisations are working around the clock to help people in need. There are many ways you can help, from befriending and accompanying the elderly for medical appointments to packing meals and tutoring needy students. Head to sgunited.gov.sg to find out how you can help.There’s also Love Translated, a cool initiative where you can send encouraging messages to migrant workers in Singapore. Just WhatsApp your message to 8110 5683 and it’ll be sent to the workers in their native languages!#5 Donate moneyIf you’re keen to give a cash donation, there are many causes to contribute to. Giving.sg is a great platform for finding out who you can donate to. They include heartwarming ground-up initiatives that have started in Singapore. Virus-specific relief is also listed. For instance, you can contribute to the Migrant Workers’ Assistance Fund to sponsor meals for foreign workers, Beyond Social Services to provide Wi-Fi access for low-income families or AWARE to help women who are victims of sexual assault. The list goes on.We also shouldn’t forget practitioners in the arts scene – many of them are struggling financially due to cancelled performances and gigs. You can send in donations to help them during this period. Some non-profit local theatre companies to check out include Wild Rice and The Singapore Repertory Theatre. #6 Donate essential itemsAnd, of course, you can make in-kind donations for items that different communities need during this time. If you have working laptops lying around at home, for example, send them to Engineering Good. They’ll fix them up and pass them along to needy individuals. Or, if you’re good at sewing, join the efforts by Masks Sewn With Love to make reusable cloth masks for vulnerable communities in Singapore.Along with masks, sanitising products are also in high demand. If you’ve got some of these to spare, why not pass them along to others who need them more? Contribute.sg and Masks for All SG have teamed up to collect and distribute these items. Find out more now.City of Good is also working with charities to find out specific items that they need, from antibacterial soap to thermometers. Find out more about how you can help here. Looking for more about living in Singapore?Virtual therapy and counselling sessionsLook chic with a mask on!

Why join one of the expat associations?

8th June 2020 by Rebecca Bisset 4 Min ReadIf you’re a newcomer, joining one of the expat associations is a great idea. They’re ideal for meeting like-minded people or getting involved in a hobby or sports group. But, even if you’re a long-term expat like me (22 years now!), friends leave regularly and sometimes you just need to boost your social network.Life stages also change. If the kids have flown the nest, it might be time to find some new interests; or, if they’re going to school, you might want to get back into the job market. Expat Associations in Singapore can help in many ways.There are a few good associations for expats in Singapore. We talk to the team from the American Association of Singapore (AAS). They’ve been active in Singapore for over a century – obviously with a few changes to the team!Why join the American Association of Singapore?The main differences between AAS and other associations for expatsAside from being one of the island’s oldest associations, at over 100 years old, a uniqueness we have is our family tree. We actually chartered quite a few of the American organisations in Singapore that grew organically as the need arose; following AAS came the American Women’s Association (AWA), then The American Club, Singapore American School (SAS), AmCham, SACAC for counselling and youth sports, Boy Scouts of America Troop 7 and the American Dragons Dragon Boat Team. We also have close ties with the US Marines and US Navy League, as well as the US Embassy.What’s great about the solid relationships we have with these organisations is that we not only offer a fantastic pillar of support to our collective community, we have opportunities to collaborate on a huge number of events. The main aim of the associationAAS is all about celebrating American culture through our events, and this revolves around our motto, “Have Fun, Give Back, Be Involved”. The AAS team genuinely loves getting members together and helping them get the best out of Singapore. We do this through our events – including our American heritage major events and smaller Connexions events, the most recent of which have been a huge hit online – along with our Careers Resource Centre for Excellence (CRCE) service, volunteering at charitable organisations we support, and staying connected with our publications, Living in Singapore magazine and the Living in Singapore Reference Guidebook.We can’t wait to start ramping up our major events soon – we’ve got the 87th George Washington Ball on our calendar for 27 February next year already!The demographics of your membersWe’re mostly made up of US citizens, but we are very much a “come one, come all” organisation, with members of all ages from all over the world. Our members hold a “family membership” and we look to cater for all in our membership base.The most popular activities or groups that members can get involved in?Our “At The Table” women’s career and networking and Metworks men’s networking and Coffee Connexions meet-up groups are our monthly event staples. Plus, once the current restrictions are lifted, we’ll be reintroducing our Burger Crawl, Quiz Night, Newbie Night events and the Living in Singapore Talk, based on our guidebook.Our major events, such as Toys for Tots at Christmas-time, Thanksgiving Picnic and our Fourth of July Celebration, are fabulous fun for all the family and very much at the heart of what we do. As too are our long-standing annual George Washington Ball and Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament. How much does it cost to join, and roughly how many events do you have a year in “normal” times?AAS Membership is $120, and AAS and CRCE Membership, including our career service, is $220 – and that’s for all the family. This is great value in view of the fact that we have at least two smaller events per week and five major events each year.What’s New!Like many organisations at the moment, we’ve been agile in how we can best serve our community. Our virtual events have been highly successful and we foresee a demand for this in the future. We recently held a very well-received At the Table event online, and our Career Counsellors have been hosting virtual one-on-one sessions with those who need some career advice. We’ve also begun collaborating with partner groups, such as The Growth Faculty, to bring big names in online events to our members’ screens, which is exciting.To find out more about the AAS, email [email protected], or call 6738 0371aasingapore.com