'I had a hard time adjusting to my new life': Woman opens up about moving to Singapore alone at 14

'I had a hard time adjusting to my new life': Woman opens up about moving to Singapore alone at 14
PHOTO: Screengrabs/TikTok/Contentheartsco

It was love at first sight.

During a family vacation to Singapore, Grace Gumala admitted to being "captivated" by the country.

She told AsiaOne: "I was in awe of how modern, systematic and orderly everything was."

Grace, who hails from Indonesia, was only about 10 years old at the time, but she was already sure that her future laid away from her country of birth.

Studying in Singapore was the goal, and Grace managed to turn this dream into reality.

Last Sunday (Feb 11), she shared her journey of leaving Indonesia alone at 14 via her TikTok account Contentheartsco. 

Secondary school life

Describing her childhood as happy and quiet, Grace always felt like she wanted "more in life".

But moving to Singapore was not as easy as asking her parents if she could study abroad.

"My family was not rich by any means so I had to find other ways," Grace said.

Grace applied for a scholarship with the Ministry of Education and had to go through the arduous process of sitting through multiple tests and interviews.

"By God's miracle, I managed to beat hundreds of other students," she mentioned.


Methodist Girls' School was confirmed as her next educational institute. This was a feat in itself as only 14 scholars were accepted to the school, according to Grace.

And living abroad all alone at such a young age also came with its challenges.

Grace stayed in a boarding school in those early days and struggled, saying: "I missed my parents a lot at the start.

"It was very lonely and everything was new."

Singapore's education curriculum was also a factor in her stresses. Back home, she shared that she would ace her examinations and be one of the top students.

In her new environment though, she was "average at best". Lessons were hard as it was no longer about "purely memorising" information.

She'd barely scraped through, scoring C6s and D7s for English, and low monthly allowances meant that external tuition was "out of the question".

"I had a hard time adjusting to my new life and cried almost every night," Grace admitted.

Thankfully, she got close to other Indonesian students in her boarding school and leaned on each other for support along the way.

Overcoming adversity

Looking back, Grace understands that these experiences have taught her life lessons like resilience, independence and hard work.

She pushed through those initial struggles and after many years of living here, Singapore has officially become her home.

After two decades in the country, the 35-year-old is now a proud Singapore citizen.

She even managed to set up social media agency Content Hearts Co here.

"It was not easy but if I were to turn back time, I would do it all over again," Grace noted.

Her journey is not an uncommon one and she is keen for others to know that the struggle of an immigrant living in Singapore is real.

The advice to those walking the same journey as hers?

"Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and work hard for it. Find your own tribe that could support you throughout your journey," Grace said.

ALSO READ: 'Singapore is the least judgemental place': Woman opens up about journey to becoming a citizen


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