Tag Archives: Paris

Bonjour! Our Europe Adventure Part 1

So I’m back from Honeymoon Number 2. We went to London and Paris for about 2 weeks and had a FANTASTIC time! I told Kris we ‘needed’ to have two honeymoons because we had two weddings!  What a perfectly good excuse for more honeymoons! 😀

London was like the Singapore of Asia and Paris: the New York of North America. It was wonderful experiencing the metric system and understanding perfectly what everyone said at all times. The English, articulate in a fashion that makes them more comprehensible than Americans, or perhaps I just grew up learning the (ahem) ‘Queen’s’ English. I loved London  because it was clean, transportation was fast, clean and efficient and everyone spoke perfect English. The British Museum, V&A Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern and Tower of London was also housed some of the world’s best artifacts. It was a pity that the Imperial War Museum was going through a refurbishment, and most of ze exhibits were closed.

But Paris, oh glorious Paris. I adored certain parts of it more (architecture, quaintness, food, fashion) but certain aspects (snottiness, slight language barrier, smokers everywhere) annoyed me a little. The parts I loved clearly out shadowed the annoyances by miles though, wandering along the complex streets and seeing absolutely breath taking architecture, while holding hands with my BOT was priceless. I know the Tour de Effiel is somewhat over rated, but I loved it to bits. It was really cold and windy up there, but the view was worth it. The rest of Paris mostly consists of really low buildings and as such you feel like you could look on forever, from the top of the Effiel Tower.

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I’m only using a crappy handphone camera so the pictures are not that awesome, but it will suffice for now. (Till I get a job, save up and buy myself a semi pro DSLR!) Or perhaps phone cameras will improve by leaps and bounds by the time I save 1500usd!!!!!!

I love taking photos but am reluctant to drag around large clunky and expensive gadgets. So we shall see.  On a side note, I finally got down to starting my resume Draft 1 today. I’m getting somewhere, to be fair I couldn’t work before. So no rush in getting a resume done!!!! I also received my temporary driver’s permit and will attempt to drive (part of the way) to Kris’s parents place in 2 weeks for, Thanksgiving! Unless it rains or snows, in which case I will just nap. I’ve recently developed this terrible motion sickness and being in moving vehicles makes me nauseous to no end. :/

Back to Pareeeee.

 

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We had bread every single day. The bakeries called Boulangeries, were too awesome. The French do not kid around with their food I’m telling you. Every single day we had fresh croissants/baguettes before starting the day. It made Kris really happy because he’s a carbs addict.

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The best way to experience and understand a culture is via food, so while I was there, I throughly enjoyed trying some of the French staples.

First up, expresso. The price of Espresso ranges from 1euro to about 2.80Euros. But the price of cafe creme (coffee with milk) was often double that of an espresso. Given my thrifty nature, I decided to develop a taste for Espressos instead. I loved them after the 2nd-3rd cup! It was very strong, but after a while your taste buds start appreciating the strong flavour and jolt of energy like no other beverage can. Kris still indulged in his coffee with cremes and crazily expensive Coke! (tsk tsk)

This is a picture of him with his 3.90 Euro bottle of toxicity!

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The tiny potent cup of Espresso.

 

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Cold Foie Gras, not my thing honestly.

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Escargots. Yummy, but the mental barrier of eating slugs was kind of off-putting. The garlic and butter made it all well in the end.

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That’s all for our Euro Adventures Part 1, there is no chronology and no order in my posts. I’m not sure how many Parts I’m going to compile so enjoy the first entry and perhaps there might be more.

Au Revoir!

 

 

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

this

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and this instead!!

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Because! WE’RE GOING TO PARIS AND LONDON FOR OUR HONEYMOON!!!!!!! WOOT WOOT!!!!

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.