Travel. Books. Expat Living.

Month: September 2015

An Island Adventure: Touring Tioman, Malaysia

An Island Adventure: Touring Tioman, Malaysia

  The boat rumbled to a stop, the engine cutting off abruptly. I looked around me, confused. We were nowhere near land, would we be expected to jump off here? The guide sitting across from me grinned. “Don’t worry.” He said. “We’re just refueling.” The […]

4 Habits You’re Sure to Pick Up Living in Singapore

4 Habits You’re Sure to Pick Up Living in Singapore

It is a bitter-sweet thing, knowing two cultures. Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same. Sarah Turnbull

Any expat who has been abroad for many years at a time can tell you that after a while we tend to start picking up some random, and at times odd, habits from the places we visit. I’ve been in Singapore going on four years, and can definitely attest to this: there are some things that are becoming an ingrained part of how I behave. Sometimes this is cause for joking when I return home to visit, but mostly I’m proud of it. I think any habits you pick up abroad are a testament to how much of an expat chameleon you have become. We’re all global citizens, right? Read on to find out four hard-earned habits that I’ve picked up in Singapore and see if you recognize any of these in your own life!

See? I even need an umbrella when doing yoga!

Under my umbrella.

Back in the States I used to slather on sunscreen fifteen minutes before heading out into the Texas sunshine, but now I know that I was just wasting time (and sunscreen). These days, I carry an umbrella with me, rain or shine. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that an umbrella is the perfect way to protect yourself from the sun (and there are so many cute umbrella options!), but my time in Singapore has definitely ingrained in me the need to always have one on hand when I head out the door.

Teapot and cup with green tea
Image source

Green tea party.

I come from a household of coffee and tea drinking individuals. My dad’s breakfast usually consisted of two or three cups of black coffee and my mom drank black tea religiously on a daily basis. I never developed much of a tea drinking habit until I moved to Asia though. During my time living in Taiwan, I discovered the many intricacies of green tea and fell in love with the health benefits it offers. When I moved to Singapore my green tea passion was reignited. Now I can’t function unless I have a cup of green tea in the morning, but it is one habit I’m happy to keep!


To queue or not to queue.

A lot of people would agree that Singapore has a queuing culture. Everything is so well-organized here that waiting patiently in line for things is just how it’s done. I’ve learned during my three or so years here though, that queuing may apply to some situations but not to others. While queuing prevails in most other areas, I’ve found the rules are bent when it comes to public transportation. There is no such thing as waiting for people to disembark a train before pushing your way on, and I’ve gotten used to being shoved aside by the occasional auntie vying for that last seat on the bus. Live and let live, right?


Languages of the heart.

It’s easy to see (or hear) how living in Singapore has changed the way I speak. Sure, I’ve held onto some of my very American pronunciation and vocab, but at some point I also stopped ‘Going on vacation’ and ‘Getting gas’ and started ‘Going on holiday’ and ‘Getting petrol.’ Not sure exactly when it happened, but it did. My American relatives will have a ball when they hear me talking next Christmas.


What about you? What are some habits you’ve picked up living overseas? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Bintan, Indonesia: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Ugly

Bintan, Indonesia: The Good, the Bad, and the Really, Really Ugly

  “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson Bintan Island, Indonesia is just an hour ferry ride away from Singapore which can make it seem like the […]