Ays: Pink and Mints
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Singapore, etc.
My name is Ays, I’m originally from the Philippines. I’ve been living and working in Singapore since 2006. I used to be an IT professional in the banking industry. I recently became a mom, so I’m taking an extended break from work.
I write about life in the Lion City, as well as my kitchen adventures. And since Singapore is a great jump-off point to anywhere in Asia, I also write about the places I’ve visited and give some useful tips for travelling.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve always loved writing, putting my experiences and thoughts on paper has been a habit since childhood. It was a natural transition for me to go into blogging. I’ve done it even before I came to Singapore. I write/blog mostly to relieve stress from work, and also to update my family and friends of what I’ve been up to. They are scattered all over the globe, so the blog is my way of keeping them up-to-date on my activities.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I especially like the posts that give my friends tips about living in Singapore. I also had a series of guest posts, where my friends talk about their own Singapore experiences:
Tell us about the ways your new life in Singapore differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
When I was a newbie in Singapore way back in 2006, I was amazed at how clean it was, how efficient everything is and how fast everyone moves (try going to Raffles Place MRT during morning rush hour!). I didn’t have trouble getting used to all these conveniences. It probably took me a couple of months to understand the Singaporean way of speaking, and the local expressions (ie. shiok, kiasu, lah!), but it’s all good now.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Singapore? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
For the practical things, such as which area to live in, and setting up the flat, I have to say I was prepared, as I had friends who helped me. The transition from my home country (Philippines) to Singapore was very easy.
If I could change anything, I probably would have reached out and made more Singaporean and expat friends earlier on. I’m quite an introvert and prefer a very small circle of friends, but I think getting to know more people of different backgrounds would have made my stay better.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The first time I went for lunch in a hawker center, I did not know that people used tissue packets to reserve their tables (it’s called “choping”). I went to one table and I thought someone had left their packet, so I threw it away and sat down, waiting for my friends to come. A lady carrying a tray of food approached me and asked me where the packet was, and I told her what I did.
Thankfully, the lady was friendly and explained why she left her packet there. She also told me, quite nicely, to get off her table and look for another one. Needless to say, after that incident, any table with a tissue packet is off-limits to me.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Singapore?
Three useful tips before going to Singapore:
- Research a little bit about the rules. It’s true that Singapore is called “A Fine City”, because there’s a lot of rules that carry fines if you violate them. Having an idea will help you avoid getting in trouble.
- Know a little bit about the various cultures in the country. It’s a melting pot of traditions, so getting to know about these will help when you interact with the locals.
- Prepare to gain weight in the first few months. Singapore food is one of the most varied and best-tasting in the world. And most of it is in the hawker centers, so it’s also very affordable. Trust me, you will eat a lot!
How is the expat community in Singapore? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It was not that hard for me to find friends here. There’s a large Filipino community in Singapore, so in terms of a support system, it was quite easy for me to find it. I also ventured out and met with people of other nationalities, and found they are quite welcoming. It’s a good thing to expand your circle of friends, that way, you get a glimpse of other cultures, plus you get a lot of useful tips from fellow expats, such as good restaurants, places to visit and events in town.
How would you summarize your expat life in Singapore in a single, catchy sentence?
It’s been a merry mix of adventures and misadventures, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!