Project Grateful 194: Travel plans and perspectives of moving to a new country

If you remember in this post, I mentioned that I was going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). America is huge and I feel like the need to learn to drive. To put things in context, NYC (Manhattan and the 4 boroughs) is 781 km2 large and Singapore is 721 kmlarge in terms of land space alone. I never really felt the need to drive in Singapore, but if I ever want to get out of NYC, I think driving is absolutely necessary especially in the suburbs. The entire land area of the United States is 9,826,675 km2.in case you were wondering.

Any how, I arrived at the DMV and was given;

this book

DMV book


However, unlike Singapore I don’t have to register for a test date. I just need to read the book and show up anytime, pass the written test and get a temporary learner’s permit, hop into the car of a 25-year-old and practice on the roads, become relatively competent and go take the actual driving test. All sounds really simple? Except we don’t have a car, so of course being the Queen of Procrastination, I went ahead and started reading



and this instead!!




I did go for my ‘honeymoon’ in the US Virgin Islands, but technically we picked that because

A) It was down south near where Kris was supposed to go for his business trip

B) 4 days is hardly a real honeymoon 😛

C) I couldn’t leave US territory while waiting for Advance Parole (AP), which is something I need before I can leave the country, while I’m waiting for the green card. Our dream honeymoon place was somewhere in Europe, I wanted Paris because its supposed to be the MOST ROMANTIC city in the world!!! (Well done tourism board of France!) and Kris wanted London because its one of the rare European cities he hasn’t visited. So because of the long wait to get my green card, I’m grateful to have 2 honeymoons. YAY!!!!!!!!

Turns out that being not able to leave the country for 6 months was a blessing in disguise.  (Let me clarify that, I can leave of course; I mean USCIS cannot detain me for leaving America. Which trust me, I was tempted to, many times in sheer frustration, because of all the difficulties we had faced with this immigration process. I told Kris plenty of times, to move to Singapore instead because it only takes 3 months (in contrast to the 24 months of more that I have to wait to get a green card) for him to get a PR in Singapore!!

However WE”RE NOT QUITTERS! Plus, it means that the past 18 months I’ve waited towards getting the Green card would have been in vain because the moment I leave the country without the AP, I would have to restart the entire Green Card application process again. You heard me right, start it from SCRATCH. i.e. circa back to Feb 2012.

More importantly his family is American and as his wife, I need to be able to enter and exit the country because he will always want to come back here, or rather we would always want the option to enter the US when we want to visit family for extended periods of time.

I cannot believe it has been 18 months + (????) more months in total that I have waited for this paperwork to be done. I think the East glorifies the West to a certain extent and my expectations of what America really is,  has been greatly (ahem) humbled. I used to think that Singapore had so much things to be improved, but coming here, I’ve realized that Singaporeans have had it pretty darn good. In terms of  (holistic) livability, I would put America and Singapore on par. Because of kinship and friendships, and my job as a teacher, I would honestly think that Singapore would be more ideal for me if I was single. But now that I’m married to an America, I guess that greatly changes the equation. However, I’m glad of this new perspective, and I know that if shit hits the fence, I can always go home. But for now, this is where I have chosen to be and I just have to make the best out of it. Realistically my life here is not harder, easier, happier or unhappier as compared to Singapore, it’s just different and humans have a tendency to always want to venture into familiar territories.

The US is unfortunately not what I thought it would be, but perhaps its due more to unrealistic/imagined expectations of what I thought it would be for me as a person and my career. I’ve read up extensively about immigrants and according to many research studies, apparently I’m not alone in feeling this way about moving to a new place. I take comfort in being validated of my emotions I guess. Ironic isn’t it? Coming to a country that champions freedom and individualism but yet still take comfort in sharing the herd mentality.

*I am SHEEP!. Bahhhh Bahhhh Baahhhh*

In all seriousness, I think moving to a new country is challenging but rewarding in many ways; most because you get to ‘start afresh’ and it forces you out of your comfort zone and my preconceived notions of the world.

I have met so many people from so many different cultures and learn so many things about them. I have forced myself to move out of my whats innately comfortable to me and to immerse/adapt myself to social situations that are unfamiliar and sometimes even frightening. I feel like (imagined or otherwise) that I now have more nuanced perspectives of what the world seems to be. I am introspective by nature and this move has made me question a lot about my life in Singapore and my role in this global world. I feel like I am now no longer just a citizen of Singapore but a citizen of the world. The world is becoming so mobile and I’m lucky enough to be able to go almost wherever I want to go (not with its associated sacrifices that come along with it), but I think the opportunity I have to be just given the choice in itself, makes me very very lucky and very very blessed. So today I am grateful for being given this opportunity to move to America, despite it not being the utopia that I thought it would be. 🙂

PS: My last statement was only said with half a pinch of salt.



Project Grateful 365: SSN application, MOPEY days and Columbia Teachers College

Day 114, 27th Feb: HAPPY THAT THE SSN was easy peasy!


Today I am grateful that the application for the SSN went super smoothly. After I enter the USA with my K1 visa, I need to bring that visa into the office and apply for a Social Security Number. Unlike the K1 visa which took ~200 years, the SSN application was super easy peasy. I went in and out of the office within 20 minutes and the peeps were friendly and relaxed. SO AWESOME to deal with a pleasant and happy-to-be-at-work government officer/clerk! We even chatted about her Chinese bamboo plant!

In case you’re living in Manhattan! CLICK here for more information about applying for your SSN!


Day 115, 28th Feb: Grateful for an insightful talk about my future goals!

columbia TC

I went for a graduate talk in Columbia’s teacher’s college and was quite happy with the courses they offered. Compared to CUNY’s open house, they were way more welcoming/organized/efficient and had more/better programs. Well Columbia is better endowed than CUNY, so its not surprising I guess.

I love being in class, I love interacting with children and little ones. I like the influence and difference I can make as an educator right in the class room. But I also know that policy/educational leadership/curriculum planning can help me further the things I want to push through in the education system. Those would help aid me in furthering my dreams of opening a play school!

I love being in the classroom but I’m also interested in educational psychology and school counselling. I find the gifted education system appealing and the special needs program rewarding.


Happy problems nonetheless, better to be presented with an array of choices than to be STUCK with one, I dare say!



Frown upside down

Today started out mehhhh. I suddenly missed home (family, esp that little cutie pie of mine and my friends lots). Bouts of homesickness hits me from time to time, but its normal of a new immigrant.

I try not to dwell on it and be grateful of the opportunities I have in this city instead. I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot be happy as a lark everyday, but I will NOT allow my self to wallow in self pity, just because.

I have it pretty good (all things considered) and I must be thankful for that and focus on the HAPPYs and the GOODs! *determined face* So I got quite a bit done, I booked 2 hotels in the Virgin Islands, found out about Driver’s licensing in the city, a cheap and good driving school, went to IKEA to get household related items and is currently preparing to make PAD THAI for dinner!

**edit of Pad Thai. Its GOOD!!!!


Pad Thai goodness! Vegetarian!



Fried Tofu, a lot of oil, but not all that bad after I filtered it out!

YAY!!!!!!! ME for turning a moppy day into an effective one. As my hubby says, ‘Turn that frown UPSIDE down’! Since its Friday night, we’re going for a walk and maybe a movie tonight! WHEEEEEE. I want to go for HAPPY HOUR, but Kris finishes work late and its not as if I can DRINK anyways. I think BARS need to have a happy ice cream hour!