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Changing Perspectives – Adaptation

When I first moved here, I met one of Kris’s friend who never failed to ask me, “So how Charlene, isn’t New York City the greatest ever.” Back then, I didn’t feel like it was the greatest city at all. I had just moved away from my family and friends, I left a stable job, I knew zero people in this city and Kris was at work all day. I didn’t know what to do with all this free time, I felt really lonely inside, and everything felt uncomfortably foreign. I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted and I didn’t want to lie either, so I just smiled and shrugged.

 

Circa Summer 2014 and now Manhattan feels like home. Our apartment – a sanctuary that we both have built together with love and the growing bonds of our marriage. I felt this very strongly during a recent visit to Singapore, the past couple of times I left the country (Singapore) I would be sad and felt this deep sinking feeling in my heart and throat. This time, I found myself excited to go back to NYC, excited to start school and excited to be home. A home — where I have been painstakingly caring for, rearranging, decorating and filling with little stuff that meant something to us, a welcoming respite from the urban jungle in which we lived in. Don’t get me wrong, I still miss family, friends and truly enjoyed spending time in Singapore but I also feel that now I have a family/home in New York. I have found my way in this seemingly unfriendly and cut throat city, carved out a space that belonged to me and rekindled a ‘relationship’ with myself. Emotionally I am so much stronger and happier now; far more comfortable than I have been in a long time. I feel confident of my abilities to be alone, to thrive in a new city. I like making new friends, but I’m also very happy to be eating, reading, exercising or even partaking in any activity that traditionally involved more people -by myself and truly enjoying the solitude. The comfort of my new found independence is truly liberating.

 

I’m hoping that the new direction (grad school) I’m taking in my life will challenge me enough to grow into a better person. More importantly, I hope to find a vocation that allows me a deeper sense of purpose, something that allows me to make my surroundings and the people I interact with happier. My goal is to make education an accessible privilege to all and for it to better bridge socio-economic divides. I’m not sure what or how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to try to get there.

 

In short, I am proud to say that I have *ahem” crossed over that uneasy (and necessary, if I may) transitional bridge of international migration and look forward to more exciting adventures here and everywhere my our heart desires.  (I have a partner in crime now, so I can’t leave him behind :P)

Back home in NYC again! Wheeeeeeee

The wonderful wonderful guy at immigration gave me a 90 day visa. With some degree of friendliness and sympathy to boot!  The heavens must have been watching over me!

So now I can hug Kris non stop for 80+ days! Wheeeeeeeeee

I can finally enjoy the shiny apartment and cook yummy meals for my bot! I have grand plans about being a macaroon chef!

I have a backlog of entries of my Bangkok trip and Japan which I promise to update soon! Well soon-ish 😛 Bangkok and Japan were super fun, the company was excellent and I have decided that these are my top 2 favourite cities in South East Asia and East Asia.

I did Japan alone for 3 nights and I realised that I like travelling alone, I mean I enjoyed the company when it was there, but I generally had no problems being alone. I enjoyed wandering along streets on my own, waking up/resting/sleeping eating whenever and wherever I went, had random conversations with random strangers. It was nice. I never thought I would enjoy travelling alone as much, but I just wanted to try it for the heck of it. Glad I did. Things to check off my bucket list 🙂 Japan was  very tourist friendly too, I mean I cannot speak a word but everything there is designed so intelligently and intuitively that with a certain level of intellect (heh! heh!) I breezed through the city. It is definitely one of the more civilised countries in the world, the people are gracious and helpful when asked. Like any big cities, everyone is rushing off somewhere but everybody I asked for directions/help gave it so willingly and some went the extra mile to help me find my way. Restore my faith in human kind! Mild exaggeration is a woman’s prerogative!

I am excited to go visit Kris’s parents and their calm and serene house next month and I’m SUPER excited to see his adorable grandma! This time maybe Kris will allow me to try a game of golf on my own and not hog the club and say ‘You’re too slow and we don’t want to hold up the people behind’. I shall wake him up at 6am and so that we’re the first one on the greens!  *insert evil laugh*

I was especially touched to note that Anne and his sis gave me some Christmas presents (from Xmas 2011) and even baked some cookies (froze them) and was exhilarated to tear open my presents when I got to the apartment. I mean Xmas presents in April! Santa must really love me! I haven’t eaten the cookies yet but it looks promising, all colourful and happy. The other Christmas presents were really well thought of and exactly what I like! Its really sweet when you know someone racked her brains to scout for presents that she knows are ‘YOU’. Its really the thought that counts! Thanks Anne and Kim!

Hmmmm cookies, I shall go warm some up now!

 

 

 

America and the Death of Cuteness

When I first arrived in America, it dawned on me that there wasn’t anything cute here!

Cupcakes are pretty

Flowers are beautiful

Babies are adorable and sometimes, only sometimes cute.

But in general, nothing is cutesy here!

Kris explained to me that cute in American culture means childish and most adults chose to avoid that label like plague. I mean in American most people leave their homes at like 17 to go to college and hence you have a culture of fiercely independent adults.

Asians by contrast stay with their parents till they can afford their own homes and in Singapore there is no way you can afford any home on a single income, unless you spend every single cent of your pay check on housing and live on fresh air and love! I mean the median income of a Singaporean now is $3070. And the average rental costs of a common room  in Singapore is $800 (HDB), a master bed room (HDB) costs 1000 and a condo common room costs $1500 for a decent place. Do the math and you’ll quickly realise that it is because of practical reasons that most young adults choose/have to stay with their parents if they intend to have savings of any sort.

I digress, my post was about the death of cuteness and I have spent too much time on finances!

Anyhow as I was saying with this fiercely American and adult culture they have here, Kris has disallowed me to make this apartment cutesy in any shape or form. He has dictated that this is a ‘adult apartment’ and hence nothing cutesy can ‘survive’ in here. This goes against the very essence of my soul. I love cute things! I disagree that having cute things make you childish! I think having cute things makes you an appreciator of child-like things and therefore  makes you youthful and happier!

Hence I rebelled and went all ‘Occupy 20 exchange’ with my

1) Hello kitty bed sheets (courtesy of mummy)

2) Scott Cars Bathroom tissues (apparently they don’t call them toilet paper, too crude!)

3) Wise Owl bathroom mat!

**If Kris disapproves of these things, he can 1) Sleep on the adult couch, 2) Not wipe his adult butt and 3) have an adult shower in the sink** (I think I am so funny!)

However Kris is a wonderful man and besides, since 90% of the house is adult! 10% of cutesy things in the house should be A-OKAY! I argue vehemently that eradicating all cute things in my home is a lost of my rights as a human person! Hee hee *inserts melodramatic face*

Conversation with my ex student

Below is an exerpt of a conversation I had with a 16 year old. * I cut off certain aspects of the conversation and replaced them with ‘……….’*

“Yes, in fact, one of the reasons why I picked the NY trip is because I wanted to experience city life for what it really is. No doubt, the Americans’ lifestyles have constantly been negatively portrayed by the media, which doesn’t do justice to them at all! I believe there are so many other wonderful and unique aspects of their culture, especially the huge belief in freedom of speech and human rights! I’m planning to go into political science in the future, and so I certainly hope to be able to get some enriching insights out of this trip. ……………. Last but not least, I hope you’re doing well in America!  God bless …….” 

There is hope for the younger generation! This conversation ‘WOW-ed’ me because there are some educated adults that I have personally encountered and their world view of America and the world in general is no where as mature as this 16 year old! She was one of my favourite students too. I really really enjoyed having her as a student, she’s always attentive, handed in perfect work all the time with perfect hand writing.  Professionally, she helped me be a better teacher because she would always ask me difficult questions and that forced me to be ultra prepared for lessons! At the same time because of her enthusiasm I would invariably want to plan better differentiated learning lessons because I didn’t want to see all that talent go to waste! The part about her that that I loved was that she was really intelligent, humble and kind to her classmates.

I miss teaching.

I like having a break though, its so so so so wonderful having your own home. 😀

Cleaning is not so wonderful! But its good exercise

New York after 3 days

So! I’ve finally arrived in NYC after 25 hours on the SQ A380. Its a nice new plane that’s really quiet, so it was a smooth ride for the both of us. We got it for cheaper than Emirates or US carriers too. Score!

Here’s a picture of the happy bots in the A380!

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Random facts about New York after 3 days.

1) High rise buildings in NYC act like wind tunnels that funnel cold cold air to unsuspecting tourists!

2) Doors are heavier in NYC. I am mortified of revolving doors!

3) Pizza is super yummmy in NYC

4) New YOOOOrkers walk really quickly, my little trotters struggle to keep up.

5) Eating out is terribly expensive! I paid like 12 USD (including tip) for a duck and wanton noodle. It feeds 2 Asians  though!

After 2 days, we found the perfect apartment for us. Its pretty straight forward for us actually, just saunter into the management office of apartments (found them online) that we deemed suitable for us and ask for available units for immediate move-ins.

Upsides of our new place!

1) 2 mins from Kris’s office

2) Nice gym and concierge

3) Wonderful view on the 51st floor overlooking the statue of liberty

4) Lots of light (Which is quite rare for most NYC apartments because they are always so close to one another that some building always blocks the light, also the higher you go, the higher the prices go. Its really expensive living in NYC)

5) Friendly and helpful peeps at the management office

6) Near basic amenities yet quiet after office hours. Even in rush hour, its nowhere near as crowded as Shenton way or Orchard road.

Downsides

1) Tiny odd shaped bedroom + Tiny Hall

2) Really really expensive

But oh well, I guess you can’t have it all. I’m really excited to build our first nest together! Its really exciting! *jumps up and now ecstatically* I’m also very lucky to have such a capable fiancee! Coz it looks like the application for a work visa for me, isn’t going to be all that quick. Probably about a year or more. Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll find something useful to do. Like blogging about my experience in NYC.

Tomorrow is also Valentine’s Day. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! We’re going to try out this 1-star Michelin restaurant, because I causally mentioned, hey I wonder what a Michelin star restaurant is like. And the best fiance of the year! decided that we’ll have dinner there!

Here are some pictures of the food and sights of NYC thus far, enjoy!

 

Bird at Pier 11

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Robot looking extremely cute!

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Me trying to look chic!

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Me craving Chinese food

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