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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Nanyang Tech chapter.

“Dating apps are where love goes to die, ” said my friend as we sat on the steps outside a mall, drinking bubble tea, of course. While I kind of agreed, I felt the need to defend the apps, and so I did. I explained how I am a hopeless romantic, but I didn’t want to wait around for my meet cute any more. I cannot expect to find something more organically, especially since I moved to Singapore only fairly recently. I also explained how I have caved into the apps as many times as I have because of my loneliness in moving to a new country. His response to this was, “Ah, the life of an immigrant”. Immigrant? I had never called myself that before, but it was only on this day, more than a year after I moved to Singapore, did I realise that I was, in fact, an immigrant. A Gen Z immigrant, at that. 

Growing up, I watched a ton of movies and TV shows that showed me the life of children of immigrants and their stories of culture, traditions and world views inside and outside of their homes—the conflicts, the similarities and everything in between. I have cousins who were born and brought up outside of India as well. I wondered about what it was like for them growing up, but I don’t think it was something I could ever fully understand the complexities of. While I have pondered about how my cousins integrate their lives and culture, I realised I had never thought about what it was like for their parents when they first moved overseas. 

Moving overseas is an extremely lonely experience. In moving away, you are tasked with having to keep in touch with friends back home as well as make new ones. However, with the coming-of-age dating apps, meet-up apps and just social media in general, it makes the former and latter tasks a lot easier than they used to be. There is the additional task of navigating the local cultural and social norms. I love learning Singlish words, but I found it quite paiseh to interrupt people’s conversations to ask about the meaning of a word. A quick Google search was all it took to add a new word to my Singlish vocabulary. I wondered how I’d have fared if I didn’t have this luxury at my fingertips.

My baby cousin’s first birthday and my brother’s high school graduation are just some of the milestones I missed this past year. It still devastates me that I never got to see my brother on stage graduating from the school we both attended, but travelling back and forth is a luxury that most of us just cannot afford. I never truly appreciated a video call until my mother carried me around on one at these events so I wouldn’t feel entirely left out of the celebrations. I realised how that is also a privilege Gen Z has.

If you move overseas for your studies, the task of getting a job on your graduation is a daunting one. You have to prove your skills for the job. You also have to convince companies that you’re good enough for them to take on the process of getting a work permit just for you, which is not a fun task for them, one that they’d rather stray away from. Since January of this year, I have sent out numerous applications, a process that I did entirely online using various job portals. I reached out to companies all over the world. It hit me how wild this situation was and how this was even an opportunity I could consider and explore.

I was also suddenly a representative of my country abroad. I felt like it was my responsibility to represent the best image of India. I believed I had an idea of life in Singapore from all the YouTube videos I watched before moving here. I failed to account for people around me having a certain conception of India as well. India has famously never had the best image portrayed on the silver screen. Movies like Slumdog Millionaire show a part of our story, but it is this story that they put forth that’s left in the minds of watchers for years. “What is the caste system?” and “Is dowry still a thing?” were some of the questions I was posed with. Things that were just natural and second nature to me were foreign to the people around me. I found myself having to justify things or explain things I just never had to explain before. I loved sharing my culture, but navigating my way around and answering these questions in the best possible way was a heavy responsibility.

The word “immigrant” is heavy, but it represents a group of people who have given up many things, particularly their norms, in search of better opportunities or something different. Whatever the reason is, their journey is their own. As Gen Z set out as immigrants in this global village we have come to live in, the experiences and challenges immigrants face will keep changing. This conflicting journey of sadness, happiness, guilt and freedom comes with every move we make in this new life. No TV show or YouTube video prepares you for the experience, but as Gen Z in the 21st Century, we have the ability to use these tools for the better, for ourselves and the people around us.

Sanjana Ramesh

Nanyang Tech '23

All queens must have their crown, well this one prefers hairbands. Sanjana is pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering at Nanyang Tech and if she isn't out being a woman of STEM, she enjoys being a plant mom, kindle owner and K-Drama aficionado.