From Minnesota to Singapore: The Werner twins had an experience of a lifetime
Morgan and Mackenzie Werner had a lot of family meetings when they were younger.
The family would sit in the living room and talk about serious discussions for an hour or two.
Some of those discussions were just updates, but some of them involved action in the sense of moving to another city or state.
Whether the Werner family was in Wisconsin or Nebraska or Minnesota, they were always around for holidays and other events going on throughout the year.
That's why, when the Werner family had a family meeting in the middle of Morgan and Mackenzie's seventh grade year, they didn't think much about it.
Little did they know that their lives would be changed completely with four words.
"We're moving to Singapore."
It was a move the family wasn't expecting, so the news came as a shock to all. The twin sisters were told they were going to Switzerland about a year before this discussion, but when that fell through they thought Woodbury would be their home for the significant future.
"Our father told us that we didn't have to go and that he could go by himself," Morgan said. "But we always stick together as a family and also we thought it could be a fun couple of years."
Once they moved there, the twin sisters had a different mindset and had to prepare for many different changes to their lifestyle.
Mackenzie said the family took lessons on customs before they left, so they knew the things they could and couldn't do based on cultures and traditions in Singapore.
Luckily, the country spoke English as a first language and Mandarin as a second language. The family didn't speak Mandarin, so they stuck to the English language for their time there.
Singapore is a smaller island south of Malaysia that holds 31 million people today, but about 7-10 million people during the time the Werner family lived there.
"There was a lot of people," Mackenzie said. "You were never alone in that country. The traffic gets backed up sometimes, but the country as a whole was really safe. I mean sometimes our little brother would take a taxi by himself."
The twin sisters weren't able to drive since the driving age is 18 in Singapore, but they were able to experience driving on the left side of the road.
They even experienced driving on the right side a few times as their mother was used to driving in the United States. Specifically, they remember one Mother's Day when they were pulled over by a police officer for driving on the right side of the road.
Luckily, it was a holiday and the officer let her off without a ticket. Singapore enforces many laws and rules throughout the country, but Morgan explained it best.
"If you mind your own business, most of the time you won't get in trouble," Morgan said.
One of the best rules that people outside of Singapore know is that you can't chew gum in the country. Morgan and Mackenzie said that rule is false.
The country doesn't sell gum, but people can bring gum into Singapore without getting in trouble.
"The biggest difference we saw from Minnesota to Singapore was just the people," Morgan said. "For example, if you went on an elevator. In Minnesota, you'd be telling others to go on before you. In Singapore, everyone just goes towards the elevator until it's full."
The family had to adjust to the different traditions and cultures, but they also enjoyed learning about them as well. Morgan and Mackenzie went to Singapore American School, but the school had a lot of diversity between cultures.
The twin sisters played soccer for the school and their team was dominant throughout the country, so the team would typically travel to other, local countries to compete. Morgan and Mackenzie were able to travel to places like Bangkok, Thailand and Jakarta, Indonesia.
"It was so much fun to travel and see some places you would probably never be able to with playing soccer," Mackenzie said. "It was a great way to continue learning about other cultures as well."
When it came to food, the two sisters were pretty original, but did expand their taste buds a little bit as years went on.
McDonald's was their number one place, and both were very excited when they learned that McDonald's had a delivery service. It was a dangerous fact to learn, but they might've taken advantage of it once or twice or three times... or many times.
"That was such a plus," Morgan said laughing.
Once they became a little older, they went out to restaurants and tried foods not only from Singapore, but other, local countries as well. They fell in love with a couple types of food that still has them wanting to go back for more.
One of the foods was called naan, which is a bread that typically has butter on it and is dipped into spicy curry. It's a sweeter bread than most, but the two girls enjoyed eating it all the time at home in Singapore.
Another food was found at a local restaurant near their home and it served dumplings. Once the two sisters started talking about these dumplings, they couldn't stop.
"Honestly, it was probably some of the best dumplings I've had in my life," Mackenzie said. "Don't get me wrong, we love American food, but it was fun to try some new things in Singapore."
The Werner family definitely tried to keep some of their holiday traditions the same as when they were in the United States. For Christmas time, there was never any snow in Singapore because it's hot all year round.
The family decided to travel to Snow City, which is in Singapore, and it makes fake snow. It allowed them to see snow at least once a year, but they kept their Christmas tree up all year round because they liked how it represented their family.
Since the family was in Singapore for years, it was hard to keep in touch with friends and family back in the United States. Luckily, their grandparents and some friends made the trip out to Singapore and Morgan and Mackenzie would come back to Woodbury during the summers.
"It felt so short in the summer because our school always started in August," Morgan said. "So it would be a couple months of hanging out and playing soccer and then we'd be on a plane back to Singapore. It seemed to go by super fast."
Towards the end of their time in Singapore, the twin sisters looked forward to going back because they started to miss their friends at school. The relationships and friendships started to build when they moved, so when they went back to the United States before their junior year, it was a tough transition once again.
The girls were excited to go back and see their family and their friends once again, but the friendships they made in Singapore were incredible. To this day, Morgan and Mackenzie keep in contact with their teammates and other soccer players from around the Southeast Asia area.
The girls missed Singapore so much that they decided to fly over there this past summer and see everyone by themselves. It was just the two of them traveling, but they said it was great to go back and see everyone.
Singapore will always be a big part of Morgan and Mackenzie's lives and even though they were only there for four years, it felt like an entirety with how much fun they had while in the country.
The opportunity to leave everything in Minnesota and go to Singapore for a short stint was one of the best things that could've happened to them. They learned so much about the world and the different cultures that they would've never learned in a classroom in Woodbury.
Both of the girls are heading into their senior year and playing on the East Ridge girls soccer team this season, but they can't wait for college to come. They both know they'll be taking study abroad trips every year.
"We were even considering going to college overseas, but I think we're going to stay in the United States and take study abroad trips," Mackenzie said. "It's an experience unlike any other."
Whether the soccer ball is rolling through the fields of Singapore or the fields of East Ridge High School, the grass is always green in their minds. The two of them have two homes in this world. The two homes are almost 9,000 miles apart from one another, but the memories are endless.