Interview: A Lady from Singapore in CA

Jasmine found the Stanford Wives on the Internet and became a blogger for us. She has an amazing story to tell.

1. Can you give an introduction about yourself?

From Singapore to California

Jasmine from Singapore

I am from Singapore and used to be in international relations at a public agency. I came to Stanford last July during the summer so it’s going to be a year since I first came to San Francisco. When my husband decided to do his PhD in Stanford, I had to decide if i was going to join him here or be separated for at least four years. I think one big factor in me coming over was the 13 hrs time difference, communicating with each other would have been a nightmare!

2.  What are you currently doing?

I did some volunteering at Contact Singapore (a Singapore government agency) and now occasionally help out with projects. I’m also looking out for job opportunities since my visa allows me to work but I’ve been having tough luck in the job market. On weekdays, I attend foreign language classes offered at I-Centre. Hopefully I will get to use my foreign language skills some day, especially since I love traveling! Recently, I’m attempting to write a story after attending a story-writing class. I enjoy writing a lot but never had the opportunity to invest time in it.

3.  When you think back to your decision making and moving, what was the most difficult aspect in deciding to move here?

I had many big hurdles to cross, such as putting the news across to my parents that I would be leaving and getting my boss to  give me his blessings for me to leave. Leaving my job was a huge decision since I enjoyed the perks it gave me. I had to psyche myself to pull away from my comfort zones and all things familiar to me. It really boiled down to me believing that I would be happiest living with my husband.

4.  What did you do to prepare yourself?

To make sure that my family and I could contact each other frequently, I invested in a Skype phone. It runs on the router instead of an actual phone line but is similar to a cellphone. It is great because my mother does not have to fiddle with the computer to get on Skype when she is alone during the day in Singapore. My girlfriends and I started a private blog together and we promised to keep our BFF bond alive despite us being physically separated.

5.  What was the most useful source of information?

The most useful sources of information helping my husband and I settle in was probably the Stanford University and I-center websites. We also had good advice from a fellow Singaporean couple we met on campus as well. From these sources, we had many queries answered on visa applications, applying for campus housing, getting for our CA drivers license (including tips on the theory and driving exams!) buying a car, and recommendations on must-visit-places.

Aside from those, yelp.com has proven to be extremely vital when forming weekend dining plans. Good reviews and high ratings of restaurants help determine if I would step into a restaurant or not. As for traveling, I rely a lot on guide books and do loads of online research on interesting places to visit. All those information has to be consolidated somehow, so I started my personal list of creme de la creme of places I want to visit and restaurants to dine at! This is also really going to double up as my cheat sheet when family and friends visit me.

6.  How did you experience your first couple of days in California?

I enjoyed the beautiful sunset out of my apartment balcony in Escondido Village. I questioned why it was summer and yet I constantly felt chilly, and how my hot milo (cocoa drink) always turned cold so quickly. Then I found out it was not realistic to leave the balcony window wide open for ventilation since it was definitely cold air blowing in, and not the hot humid air I was so used to in Singapore.

7.  What do you enjoy most about your new life and what do you enjoy least?

I have the luxury of time, and I can go on trips at the drop of a hat. It is easy to take the car and hit the road to travel to scenic places such as Big Sur. I also enjoy reading US fashion magazines. Lucky magazine has helped uncover troves of fashion bloggers whose blogs I love surfing to see the latest fashion trends.

When I was in Singapore, weekends used to be spent dwelling in air-conditioned malls, sifting out the latest shopping bargains. Now, I dabble in online shopping instead! This is something I never had a compelling need to do, since the nearest mall to me was a 8 minutes walk away. And it was a big mall with a good mix of shops and eateries despite it being a neighborhood mall.

As for the less enjoyable aspects, I have had tons of frustration when dealing with insurance, banks and commercial entities because of the inflexible rules and how different departments just do not speak to each other. In addition, I try to avoid dealing with DMV at all costs!

8.  What was your biggest challenge to overcome in your new life/place?

I do hope that I would be able to experience working in the US and that I can learn and grow as much as I can.

9.  Can you tell us your funniest experience you had in the US and if you have, the saddest situation?

One funny experience was, I was very excited that I was going to meet the sea lions at Pier 39. Then I was so shocked that they smelt so bad. My face took on a weird expression of attempting to smile at the sea lions and being grossed out by their smell at the same time.

On sad situations, I sure miss having meals cooked by my mother when I come home hungry and tired.

10.   What would you tell a friends who is about to move to California?

We must meet up!!

11. Did you travel CA? If yes, do you have a secret tip/destination for us?

I love reading the travel section at LAtimes.com to learn newest travel features. It is very useful because you can be sure the information is current.

My favorite destination is this treasure of a place recommended by friends I got to know–Drive into the Ritz Carlton hotel at Half Moon Bay and take a stroll along the private beach. (It IS open to the public) I always feel like a million dollars admiring the beautiful coastline and soaking in the luxury around me.

12.   What do you miss most from home?

Local food! With the way of life where food is readily available and affordable at hawker centers and food courts, there’s never a need to pack my own lunch.

13. Do you have a special  Notes/Quote you would like to share?

While it may have been a myth that Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he ever felt was summer in San Francisco, I agree with the quote wholeheartedly!

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