Wednesday, June 27, 2018

in transit;

I’ve been super hesitant to pen down my thoughts about my transition to living back in Singapore again.
Simply because I feel like I’m still in this limbo phase. Still waiting for things to… get there.
I’m not saying that things are not good. They’re just very… different.
Of course I had expectations that things would be hard and that there would be some adjusting and getting used to life here.
But honestly, there were so many things that I didn’t even expect or know to expect.
I guess I’m a lot more westernized (or used to the American way of doing things) than I thought.
Who was I kidding when I thought I would fit right back in haha.

I think the fact that I was born and raised in Singapore almost makes it worse – because fellow Singaporeans see me and they see that I speak Singlish, I get (some) Singaporean things, yet at the same time, I don’t understand certain references or have no idea how the banks work here.
It’s almost like I have an identity crisis haha.
Thankfully my friends and coworkers are very understanding and totally get it when I don’t get certain things.
But I think sometimes it still takes them by surprise haha.

I’m trying to think about how to write about my struggles but I don’t even know where to begin really.
I guess let’s start with work since that takes up most of my time all day every day.

Work is okay – very different from what I’m used to in the U.S. for sure.
The things that I was most worried about at the beginning were waking up early and surviving the long commute to and from work.
And guess what, those have been the easiest things to do haha.
I thought I would have to go to bed at 10:30 p.m. every night in order to wake up on time and be able to function with sufficient sleep haha.
Surprisingly, I have not had a hard time waking up even if I go to bed close to midnight (not sure how that is possible because I’ve always been an I-can-only-function-if-I’ve-had-8-hours-of-sleep kind of person).
The commute has also not been that bad because the train ride is pretty quick since there’s the circle line now.
I also just pass the time catching up on shows on my phone.
Sometimes I get to work and I’m like that was fast/dang it I still want to watch this episode haha.

The things I struggle with more are work culture and learning a lot of things from scratch again.
At Penna Powers, I finally got to a point where I was familiar with all the internal processes and how to do things.
It was comfortable and I’ve long forgotten what it’s like to be new at a company.
And needless to say, I dislike being new, not knowing what to do and feeling like I’m always bugging my coworkers.
Also, government acronyms and lingos and what not. O.M.G. haha.
I was dying at the start also because I wasn't used to having so much free time but things have since picked up and I'm getting there. 

The other big adjustment has to be personal space/freedom?
I’m not sure I’m using the right words but in the U.S., I was used to the fact that we all did our own thing for lunch.
Of course, I’m sure it was due to the fact that the account managers all had very different schedules with client meetings and what not.
But I got used to just having my lunch at my desk (okay why does this sound so sad and pathetic haha) by myself on my own time or running errands on my own during lunch time.
It sounds weird but I’m not used to going out with coworkers for lunch every day at a set time. But at the same time, I feel anti-social if I don’t join.
But this is getting better and I really do enjoy chatting and eating with my coworkers during lunchtime and then just leaving early if I need to run errands, etc.
And I think maybe it’s due to the fact that I used to have my own office but I have a hard time functioning in a noisy environment where everyone is always talking even when you’re on the phone and trying hard to hear over the noise.

Also, not to sound like I’m complaining, but I was really shocked at how there are no before/after work hours or weekend boundaries.
There are many many Whatsapp group chats and there is an expectation that you will respond even if you’re off work.
I remember there was one night after work and I was at the gym when someone from an organization we work with called me.
I didn’t answer the phone call since I was running. Right after, a text message came in.
In the U.S., people don’t call or text you after hours if it’s not urgent. And this question was definitely not urgent. He could definitely have just sent me an email or contacted me the next day.
It feels a little suffocating and like I mentioned previously, I appreciate personal space and balance.
But it’s just one thing that I will have to get used to.

There are many more work-related things that I’m having a hard time with but I think I’ll leave that in my personal journal in order not to sound like I’m criticizing or complaining too much.
And honestly, people who are used to working in Singapore probably can’t even understand why I find these things hard to deal with.
So it’s kind of hard to share these things with others as well because I simply get blank stares.
One thing I have to be most grateful for is the fact that my bosses and coworkers are all really nice.
I’ve heard horror stories of some Singapore bosses literally yelling at their employees and so I have to count my blessings really.
And also, since I work in communications, there are a lot of girls and you know how girls can be bitchy.
But you know what, all the girls I work with are so great and fun!
We have a group chat that we have hilarious and random conversations in outside work and it’s a fun way to connect.
These are coworkers you will hang out with outside of work as well and to me that’s awesome.

In terms of life outside of work, it’s been quite an adventure trying to figure out what to do with myself during public holidays or on the weekends.
I have a core group of friends from JC (high school) that I still hang out with but they too have their own lives (that they’ve built over the years and are used to not having me around for basically all year) and can’t just hang out with me all the time.
Besides me, they have their university friends, their past coworkers or just other friendships that they have built up over the past 10 years I was in the U.S.
And I just feel like weekend time is so precious that I feel like I’m imposing (so weird I know haha) because they probably want to spend it with other core groups of friends who have always been physically here over the years/they’ve established a pattern of hanging out with other people over the years.

I feel like there’s a huge gap for me that I won’t be able to fill in terms of the number of friends I have and hang out with in Singapore. I too have made great friends over the past 10 years, just that now I live many many miles apart from them.
I’m not saying that I had a lot of friends while I was in the U.S. but I had different friends to meet up with on different weekends, and I never felt like I didn’t have stuff to do on the weekends.
It’s like I lost out on years that I could have made friends in Singapore and thus the gap haha.

And it’s not that I don’t have stuff to do on the weekends too.
I do run errands with my parents, etc. but something about it feels very different from life in the states.
I miss dinner parties and game nights – things that I won’t host much now because I no longer live on my own/it’s too hot to cook in Singapore, etc.
Things are also just slightly more inconvenient without a car because I can’t just drive out to do something – it just feels like it’s much harder to be spontaneous on the whole or even want to plan something haha (sorry if I sound like a spoiled brat haha).

On the up side, I’ve actually had many friends who I have not kept in close contact with over the past 10 years who have reached out to me to catch up.
And it’s been really heartwarming. It’s also been super good to catch up even if it’s been 10 years. 10 years is a long time but it’s amazing how we can still connect, talk for hours and have common growing experiences to share.
So if any of you want to catch up, let me know! I would love to catch up even if it’s been years.

The best part (and the main reason why I moved home anyway) has definitely been being close to family again.
The loneliest thing about living overseas is not having family close by and always feeling like you’re just not at home.
Living at home again is an adjustment because it’s so different from living on your own and having that independence.
But I do enjoy coming home and chatting with my parents about my day and random things that happened.
Or just simply eating dinner together or watching TV together.
I usually meet my mother at the train station after work and then we would gym together after work.
We also make it a point to do family dinners every Friday.
Honestly, nothing beats living at home with family even if sometimes we get on each other’s nerves haha.

Also, I’ve forgotten how spoilt Asian kids are haha.
Every morning my mother makes it a point to prepare our breakfast for us so I literally finish getting ready, come out, take my breakfast and water bottle (filled and prepared for me on the table by my mother again) and just leave haha.
And then my daddy buys dinner at night, my mother does the laundry for us, etc.
We Asian kids literally don’t do anything…
I always offer to help iron the clothes, etc. but my mother always just tells me to go rest.
It’s just funny how I want her to rest and she wants me to rest.
I guess that’s just how our parents show love for us.
I do my best to be appreciative and not take things for granted – I really hope I don’t just get used to it again and then become an ungrateful brat.

Anyway, so that’s how my transition’s been going in a nutshell haha.
Some days I still somehow forget that I’m back for good.
It still feels like I’m just back home visiting even though it’s been almost two months and I’ve established a living pattern here.
And some days I feel so frustrated because I don’t know the supposedly simple things of life like when I should tap my credit card for PayWave or when I’m supposed to hand my credit card to the cashier for payment?
These small things make me feel so much like a foreigner haha.
But I’m sure I’ll get there and just need to be patient.
I can almost feel like it’s better each day.
I’ll return with an update on the whole transition in a few months :)

and here are some photos from the past two months to end off this super long post:
concrete jungle 
last unemployed friday before work started 
quick bintan getaway for mother's day 
that morning commute // everyday after my workout - the drip is real hahaha 
my all time favorite mochi donut with mango sticky rice soft serve 
my first official work event 
celebrating my daddy's birthday 
finally got to try man man! 
rooftop bar view 
work birthday celebration 
one of our weekly friday night dinners - at nakhon kitchen 
reunited with my favorite duck rice 
i get to play with this kid every sunday now 
lunch party with the jc friends over hari raya puasa 
apparently my house is a good place to sleep at haha 
cone of shame hahaha 
watching incredibles 2 at the platinum movie suite 
budae budae 
"let's eat brown things today" hahaha 
on site visits at our different properties // accidental OOTD with my unglam water bottle gracing the photo hahaha 
presents from taiwan


Monday, May 7, 2018


it's time for a new adventure.
i can't believe it's been 10 years since i left Singapore as a wide-eyed girl in my teens not knowing what to expect about living overseas and away from my family.

i started college and had a blast with my newfound freedom - i learned to make friends, cook, make my own decisions (sometimes staying up till too late and then regretting it in class the next day), set my own curfew, etc.
(here are some photos from my transition: i loved looking through photos from freshman year)
my first apartment freshman year - the elms
freshman year in my first apartment, receiving my first package 
freshman year room decoration - looks so sad haha 
i actually really loved my roommates freshman year - 6 girls in a tiny apartment but everyone was so nice and we had so much fun together!
went on my first road trip and forgot to tell my roommates (also didn't have a cellphone then) so they freaked out haha
spent many random late nights at IHOP whenever the boys were hungry cause IHOP is open 24 hours
experienced my first corn maze
took up ballroom dancing
experienced snow for the first time 
went sledding for the first time

and then i got my first big girl job and started on a path of responsibilities and paying my own bills, getting my own apartment, furniture, etc. 
how has it been 5 1/2 years since i started this amazing job
if you can dream it, you can do it! 
building my own bed frame

it has not been an easy adventure.
there have been challenges along the way but it has been an amazing adventure.
living overseas has been one of the best decisions of my life.
i've learned so much about myself, learned to be independent and learned what's important in life and how to navigate through life (with lots of good food, travels and solid friends).
as much as America will always have a special place in my heart (no matter how i complain about certain things), it's time for home.

needless to say, i'm extremely nervous.
i have not lived at home for a long time and a lot of things have changed.
not to mention, i've never worked in Singapore or lived adult life in Singapore.
what credit card should i get? should i get a car and how do i go about that?
while people my age know how to navigate their way around adult life in Singapore, i'm literally starting from the beginning and that can be scary. 
there is a lot of navigating that remains ahead.
but my family and friends are still here and at least i know how to use the MRT haha.
but whatever lies ahead, my motto in life has always been, "it's an adventure!/adventure is out there."
so here we go.
it won't be easy (life isn't easy) but i hope people are kind along the way.
and honestly, looking at photos from my first year in college and remembering how much fun i had along the way while adapting to a whole new country and culture, i'm optimistic. 

a lot of people have asked me why i'm giving up the life i have in the U.S. to move back and why now?
if you know me well, home has always been my ultimate goal. 
along the way, i think people started to doubt that i would ever move home because year after year went by and i continued to work here.
there have been many points in my career that i was like okay i think this year is the year.
but time and time again, God told me, "not yet."
and so i waited.
last year after my trip back to Singapore for CNY, i felt a strong longing feeling that okay i'm done, i really want to go home.
and so i started the job hunt process.
but honestly, since i was always so busy at work and with social stuff, i would literally just apply for a handful of jobs here and there.
and really wasn't putting enough effort into it - typing up a cover letter quickly or just applying for all the jobs that only required you to submit your resume and fill up a short application.

and then suddenly at the beginning of the year, i had two really good opportunities come up and i was in full interview prep mode.
since all my interviews were scheduled for when i was back in Singapore for CNY, i felt like i couldn't even really enjoy myself properly.
everything went by so fast and the reality that i could be moving back to Singapore not long after my CNY vacation actually really scared me. 
it was almost like i started having cold feet and wasn't sure if i was doing the right thing anymore.
then the job offers came in and i could not sleep well or feel good about making a decision.
it was a horrible time but i finally decided to just press forward.

having the last two months to prep for my return home was amazing. 
i don't feel the same anxiety i did anymore and time has helped me ease into everything. 
i'm still slightly nervous (which is normal) but i'm excited for the adventure that lies ahead. 

needless to say, there are many things i'm going to miss.
i lived in the U.S. for 10 years and we all know 10 years is a long time. 
my friends asked me what i'm going to miss the most.
for sure that would be my little sister who is still living in the states (it's been so fun being roommates and doing everything together).
and then my friends said besides her since that's a given.
you know what, i'm definitely going to miss my car and driving on wide roads the most haha.
but, i'm also going to miss (not in any particular order): non-humid weather (hello sticky sweaty singapore haha), non-oily hair, my walk-in closet, $5 movies in the luxury recliner seats movie theaters, the dollar movie theater, my own office (hello office cubicle sigh), late night/last minute grocery runs, the freedom to drive to a friend's house late at night, dinner parties with friends, my amazing coworkers, the best boss ever, long weekend trips to LA/NYC, temple trips, unlimited data, cheap baking ingredients (i will never bake again because a block of cream cheese in Singapore is like $5), not sweating like mad when baking (again, i will never bake again), cheap gas, game nights with my friends, cheap and good shopping, american work culture, gospel-focused friends and so much more. i couldn't possibly list everything. 

thank you to the country that taught me to always be appreciative of good asian food, to learn how to cook the singaporean food i couldn't find here, to learn how to deal and negotiate with car salesmen, that gave me the best of friends over the years, that helped me learn to serve in my callings in church, that gave me the best first job experience and the best bosses and coworkers ever, that allowed me to visit Disneyland at least once a year as well as some of my favorite places like NYC, and many more. the list is endless.

i didn't tell a lot of people about this big decision in my life, simply because i consider myself to be a somewhat private person and didn't feel like i needed to broadcast it.
so if i didn't get to say bye to you in person, here's my announcement/goodbye.
thank you to everyone who made time to see me before i left, and for all the notes, gifts and kind words.
love the shih siblings! 
sophomore year roommates - 10 years ago! 
Disney girls reunion (missing Tawni) 
BFFs. as we were going our separate ways, we were like, 'we've lived apart before, we can do this' hahahaha 
going to miss our monthly fish outings 
we will keep in touch! and baby Liam, please don't grow up too fast! 
my second family <3 
who's going to play games with me now? 
the sweetest girl! i'm going to continue stalking your IG so make sure you post lots of instastories haha 
on my last day of work, my boss wouldn't let me pack and go home alone because she didn't want me to walk out alone. so she stayed and waited for me :) 
when you're great friends and show up to the same place at the same time haha 
see you in Asia! 
these girls <3<3<3

everyone, please come visit me in Singapore!
i seriously think one of the best things in life is continually crossing paths in different places in different points of my life.
my friends always like to tease me about literally always having a friend in any city i travel to.
and you know what, i love that!
we all move on in life and move apart but i always love those moments when we find ourselves in the same city and can catch up. 
so, don't be a stranger.