American Expat Living in Singapore - Interview with Lucy Day

Published: 30 Sep at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Singapore
Singapore is a city and a tiny island country in Southeast Asia. The culture is very Chinese but there are multiple types of Chinese heritage here, and Malay, Indian, and European heritage as well. The dominant language is English but half a dozen others are common. The country is only 50 years old and yet it's been a fantastic economic success. New infrastructure projects are always underway, and it's not for nothing that people joke that the national bird is the construction crane.

I did a three-month study-abroad program in Italy as an undergraduate, but I was hoping to live abroad somewhere for a longer period. When my husband's job search yielded an offer in Singapore, we decided it would be an interesting adventure and signed on.

My blog in part serves as a record of the interesting environment we're now living in. Enjoy. Lucy Day's expat blog is called Some People Juggle Geese (see listing here)

in the Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Garden
in the Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Garden

Here's the interview with Lucy Day...


Where are you originally from?
The US. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia (in the Southeast) and my husband is from Chicago, Illinois (in the Midwest).

In which country and city are you living now?
Singapore, Singapore.

How long have you lived in Singapore and how long are you planning to stay?
Since 2008 (almost 8 years at the time of writing). How long we stay depends on the job market.

a traditional Chinese sign on a shop selling traditional Chinese desserts
a traditional Chinese sign on a shop selling traditional Chinese desserts
Why did you move to Singapore and what do you do?
My husband was offered a fellowship at the National University of Singapore. I am currently working as a writer for a local education company.

Did you bring family with you?
No, we didn't, but in the time since we moved, my parents and brother have visited and my husband’s parents and brother have also visited.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Singapore is safe, clean, and well ordered, and the primary language here is English, so it’s been relatively easy for us.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
We’re not very social, but we spend time with work colleagues, both locals and expats. In addition, I’m involved in a couple of Meetup.com groups (for readers and writers).

Kuang Chee Tng Buddhist Temple
Kuang Chee Tng Buddhist Temple
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Every time we have guests, we take them to the Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Garden. It’s centrally located but just absolutely beautiful, and quite inexpensive. Kampong Glam, with its golden-domed Sultan Mosque, is a beautiful site to see, and it’s not far from Parkview Square, Singapore’s Art Deco skyscraper.

What do you enjoy most about living in Singapore?
For me, it’s the language environment. I enjoy hearing how people speak in the local dialect of English, listening to Chinese broadcasts on the radio, seeing signs with words in Malay and Tamil, buying products with packaging in Thai, Arabic, or Japanese... When I was living in the US, in most environments I would hear and see English only, along with maybe some Spanish.

How does the cost of living in Singapore compare to home?
Real estate (and thus rent) is ridiculously pricey. Cars also. Street food in Singapore is cheaper than fast food, though, so eating out for lunch five days a week at the office is common.


"WEAR AND USE YOUR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENTS"
What negatives, if any, are there to living in Singapore?
To get back to where my family lives the US, I have to travel for more than an entire day. Then, when I arrive, my body clock is completely back to front because they’re exactly twelve time zones away.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Singapore, what would it be?
You must be able to cope with year-round summer and/or pay for year-round air-conditioning.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The climate. It’s always uncomfortably hot. I can’t stand to spend any amount of time outside, any time of day, any time of year. Furthermore, when seasons don’t change, time doesn’t seem to pass. I lose hold of memories because I can’t peg them to a particular season.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
If we leave, we’ll have to get licensed to drive again! We didn’t convert our licenses to international ones when we arrived, and now we have no licenses at all. I always had a car in the US and can’t imagine living in a US city without one.

decorations in Chinatown for Chinese New Year
decorations in Chinatown for Chinese New Year
What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Eat! There is every kind of food at every price point here. All the food is safe. Most of it is delicious.
  2. Travel! It’s hard to visit other countries from America. It’s easy to visit other countries from Singapore.
  3. Unless you’re a family with kids or you’ve got a company car allowance, plan on using the excellent buses, trains, and taxis to get around.
  4. Choose a central place to live so that it’s easy to see interesting places, even if you don’t work in town.
  5. Find a group of people who like to do whatever it is that you like to do. If a group doesn’t exist, create one! Meetup.com is great for that.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Tropical fruit. Interesting buildings. Signs in other languages. Signs with questionable English. Local plants and animals. Cars and trucks.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
See the bio on my website at http://spjg.com/bio/.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingLucy Day is an American expat living in Singapore. Blog description: I live in Singapore (since 2008), observe language, read books, watch movies, collect stuff, and travel. Singapore is a great place to observe language. I love English, Singlish, and Chinese.
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