Rest and Reconnect: A Lesson About Kiasu

It’s reading week and that means lots of studying! I have so much to catch up on but am starting with talking about rest. I am wishing I was this temple cat that I saw in Chiangmai, Thailand.

Something valuable I learned during my time studying abroad is that if you don’t rest and reset, your body will make you. I have gotten sick twice, once with a stomach bug and then a cold. I have also had off days where I have felt lonely and haven’t felt connected. In these days I have learned that it is okay to stay in bed for the day. Resting is not a day wasted. Resting allows us to reconnect.

While studying abroad, I have felt that I have to get the most out of the experience by doing all the touristy things, finding the best spots in Singapore, and  traveling around to neighboring countries…. on top of studying. There’s something that describes this feeling and it is called Kiasu. Kiasu is a Singaporean concept meaning the fear of losing out. You take every opportunity to compete, in fear that you will lose out on the benefits of lost resources.

It is hard not to feel here as many exchange students travel frequently. I see all the cool places they have been and I can’t help but feel like I should be taking advantage of my proximity to all of these other countries. Additionally, there is an extra layer of FOMO which is different from Kiasu. FOMO is the fear of missing out. Missing out is different than losing out because it is not competitive. For example, I see all of the amazing events at Hope and sometimes I wish I was there!

Grace and patience have been the most important traits that I have had to show myself. I have learned that it is okay to just be. It is okay to do what I think is best for me and not go with the crowd. It is okay to be content in Singapore by finding small things to admire. I have actually reconnected with reading and have read 3 books here! I have read The Wake Up, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and I am in the middle of Babel. Studying abroad is about finding your footing and feeling comfortable in a new place. It is about admiring the little things, cultivating relationships, and finding yourself.

Published by Alexis Koehl

Class of 2023 Psychology & Chinese Studies Major, Biology Minor CIEE Arts + Sciences in Singapore

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