Getting to travel overseas is one thing - getting the chance to move and live overseas is another! For some of us, the thought of living in another country is an exciting one, full of new experiences and a new way to see and experience the world. ? Of course, living overseas can also mean lots of questions and uncertainties alongside the thrill of being in a new location - but it can also be a life-changing and positive experience.
For today's feature, we had the chance to ask French-Moroccan Muslim expatriate Hasna B some questions about her everyday life in Singapore with her young children! The family has lived in Singapore for several years and her youngest child was even born in Singapore. After she became a mother, Hasna has started creating content on their everyday lives, modest fashion, and their travels around the world as a family. Keep on reading for a look at life in France and Singapore through her eyes, as well as her tips on maintaining her French-Morrocan roots and on travelling internationally with young kids. ?
Note: Some of the answers below have been editing for phrasing.
Life in France
What are some of the differences between France (or where you grew up) and Singapore? Where did you live in France and do you have any recommendations for things to see/do for those who wish to visit?
First thing coming to my mind, the CLIMATE. In France we are used to having seasons. Also the language, the culture, the food and lifestyle. We live in the North of France, Lille. France is a huge country that we didn’t have a chance to explore all. We are trying to visit one city every time we go back to visit our family. Last year, we went to the South (Marseille) it was a lovely trip. Last December 2019, we visited Paris with our kids and we really love it. I can recommend Paris as a MUST GO. We still have a lot of regions in our booklist to visit like Bretagne, Normandie …
France is known for being a culinary paradise. What halal restaurants in France would you recommend to anyone who’s planning to visit?
You can find a lot of halal restaurants especially in big cities and particularly in Paris. Asian, Middle-east, Moroccan … in some places, it’s more difficult to find halal restaurants but you can still find options without meat or fish (but don’t forget to always ask if there is no alcohol, as you know alcohol is frequently used in the french cuisine).
#HHWT Tip: Look out for these 10 halal restaurants in Paris to get started on your French culinary journey! ?
There are some perceptions that being a Muslim in France can be dangerous or difficult. What was your own experience, and what are some of the differences you’ve noticed since coming to Singapore?
Being a Muslim in France is difficult because of all the media information, and the stereotypes about Muslims. Particularly for the hijabi ladies, for example finding a job as a hijabi is a challenge.
Living in Singapore
Where did you grow up, and what was the journey that led you to Singapore? What were some thoughts you had about Singapore before you moved here, and what surprised you?
I grew up in France. We came to Singapore because of my husband's work. Before living in Singapore, we came as a tourist. I mean we didn’t know this time that we will live one day in Singapore. So we had an idea of Singapore as a tourist but as I always say visiting a country and living there, it’s completely different.
How many years have you lived in Singapore? Are you planning to ever move back to France or anywhere else?
We came 4 years ago. Yes we plan to move soon normally but not in France.
Were your children born in Singapore or France? How do you balance living here and having relatives in France or worldwide?
My twins were born in Belgium, they came to Singapore when they were 2 years old. My last baby was born in Singapore. For the family, we call them many times in the week. We go back to France usually once in a year and we also try to bring our parents to spend time with them.
What has it been like adjusting to Singapore? How do you incorporate your French roots into your life here?
The climate, I think we needed 1 year to be ok with the climate. The language (Singlish) also. I incorporate my French-Moroccan roots in our daily life. We speak mainly French at home. I also cook French and Moroccan dishes.
Have you noticed any differences between practising Islam in France and in Singapore?
Yes, practising Islam is easier in Singapore. You can dress as you want, no one looking at you. There is also a big difference in the fact that all the religions are celebrated in Singapore.
What are some of you and your family’s favourite things to do in Singapore? What local Singaporean dishes or restaurants do you and your family love?
Going out, exploring, visiting and travelling around Singapore. My daughters loovvvvve chicken rice. I like nasi lemak and rendang. We also like Indian food. Eating Halal is soooo easy in Singapore and there are also many choices.
Moving and living internationally is a big change! How has your faith impacted or helped with the transition?
I feel that to be part of the Muslim community helps a lot. You can always find and connect with Muslims everywhere. I also believe there is a reason why things happen to us, we believe in destiny. It’s helpful.
Do you travel internationally with your family often? What tips do you have for international travel with young children?
Yes we travel as we can. Organisation, information about the country and a lot of patience ;)
You have some gorgeous photos with some attractions in Singapore and overseas! Do you have photography or fashion tips for travellers who want to step up their travel photography?
Yes, if you want nice pictures wake up in the early morning - the light is beautiful and most of the time the tourists arrive later. Something else, check on google for the best spots.
What tips do you have for those who want to move overseas to live or work - especially for families?
To have the right information about the cost of life: school, health fees… for example in France the school is free, in Singapore international schools are expensive. My last advice is to explore a place before moving there.
You can follow Hasna and her family's journey on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. ?