Derry girl Clare Hegarty is living proof that the brain drain so lamented by local politicians, is not all bad news.
The 24-year-old former Lumen Christi pupil is forging a new career for herself in Singapore - and is loving every minute of it.
“I’m just back from a trip to Vietnam and then I’m off to Bali next weekend - yeah, it’s awful being out here,” she said when the Sunday Journal caught up with her this week.
“I just love the life that I have here. It’s hot an humid but that beats cold and wet back in Derry every time!”
Clare is working as a speech therapist with autistic children in Singapore City.
She graduated from Edinburgh but after moving back home to Derry wasn’t able to find work.
“There only ever seem to be openings for specialists and how do you specialise when you can’t get a job in the first place?” she says.
“There was one job that came up in Cork but I thought to myself ‘Cork or Asia?’ and there was only one answer to that question, really.”
Her family were supportive when she initially headed off to Malaysia as her father had travelled extensively in that area.
“They weren’t quite so thrilled when I said I was moving on to Singapore because they didn’t know it as well, but it’s the best move I ever made,” Clare says.
“There’s a big Irish community here and that helps, but I’m the type of person who likes to throw myself headfirst into the local culture anyway.
“Whenever my friends come out to visit me, I always take them straight out to let them sample it for themselves and they love it.”
Family, friends - and potatoes - are what Clare misses most from home. She keeps in touch by phone - but has found that starting a blog online - Clarescraic - is much more effective.
“Every time I went on Skype people were coming on and asking what I was doing and I was saying the same things over and over again,” she says. “So I started the blog to let everyone know what I was up to and it has been incredibly popular. I’ve had people getting in touch from America, Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s really incredible.”
Her friends have been queuing up to visit her since she left Derry and this week her sister Fiona arrived for the first time. They are very close and Clare is using her blog to raise awareness of the rare condition Lupus from which Fiona suffers.
A singer and musician, Clare’s had no shortage of offers since her arrival in Singapore and on St Patrick’s Day played to a crowd of more than 2,000 people.”
“Asia has opened so many for me,” she says. “A lot of people my age head to Australia to go backpacking, but that never really appealed.
“I can honestly say to graduates who are stuck on the dole or who aren’t doing the jobs they trained for that they should get up and go. It’s the best decision that I have ever made.”