My name is Lynn, but a number of years ago, thanks to a “Dorothy” Halloween costume I wore one year, my friends daughter started calling me Lynny Kansas, it kind of stuck - hence the name of my blog, It’s Lynny Kansas. Not everyone calls me Lynny Kansas, but I do get called Lynny a lot which I don’t mind and actually kind of like. As my Mum always used to say, as long as you don’t call me late for my supper, you can call me whatever you like!
I originally hail from Manchester, in the North West of England, I spent 17 years living in the USA, but now reside in hot and steamy Singapore.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My first move abroad was in 1994 when my husband took a 3 year secondment job in Connecticut in the USA. This turned into 6 years, by which time we decided we didn’t really want to move back to the UK as we had acclimatized to the USA lifestyle (and weather). My husband changed jobs, and we spent a further 11 years living in Virginia, USA, before a promotion with his Company brought us out to Singapore in 2011.
2. How do you make a living
I am fortunate that I don’t have to work here in Singapore, my husband is the one doing the so called “bread winning”. My “job” of choice was always to be a stay at home Mum to raise my kids, which I did. Now they are grown (24 and 22), doing their own things back in the States, not here with us in Singapore, so I am a bit out of the so called career loop. However, not working allows me the freedom to travel with my husband (which we both like), take trips back to the USA to see the kids and to the UK to see my Mum. I am very lucky I know.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
Thank goodness for Skype, it is truly the friend of we expats! I use it all the time to call/see the kids and other family members and friends. We also do a lot of email and Face-time thanks to Apple. Facebook is another big way of staying in touch. Technology has come on so much since we first moved abroad in 1994. Back then it was very difficult to maintain the relationships with family members long distance. In some ways it can still be difficult, especially with a 12 hour time difference to the USA and an 8 hour to the UK.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Singapore?
My favorite thing about being an expat in Singapore, is getting the chance to experience a completely different lifestyle to the one in the USA. Back in the USA, we had a largish house on four acres of land, so we had lots of space and privacy and you needed a car to get anywhere. Polar opposite is our life here in Singapore. Here, we have a small 1700sq ft apartment on the 6th floor of a Condo building. We can walk to the major shopping hub of Orchard Road with its plethora of shops and restaurants. It is an easy walk to the fabulous MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system which can take you most places you need to go fairly quickly and easily. Buses and taxi’s are also plentiful and inexpensive. Cars are ridiculously expensive here in Singapore so we don’t have one because we really don’t need one.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Singapore?
The heat and humidity is awful here in Singapore! You do supposedly get used to it in time, they say it takes at least 3 months for your body to adjust - I am still waiting! There are lots of places that are air conditioned, so you can get respite from it. I have given up on having decent hair though, it always seems to be plastered to my head and the term “mopping my brow” is now a familiar one.
6. What do you miss most?
Obviously, I miss my family and friends the most. It is hard especially being so far away from my kids! The other thing I really miss is decent TV. I just got a VPN so I can watch Netflix as the TV here is not very good at all. Their technology for recording TV (i.e DVR) is not that great either, very frustrating to a total TV junkie like me.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I was lucky that I already knew a couple of people here in Singapore through my husbands work. We joined the American Club, there are a lot of “Clubs” here in Singapore, but after a year we decided not to renew our membership as we weren’t really getting much out of it. My saving grace though was joining the American Women’s Association. This is a fantastic group through which I have met some great people. They arrange great tours of areas in Singapore such as China Town and Little India, as well as historical tours and get togethers, which are a fun way to meet people. I also joined a book club and a bunco group.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Live in maids or helpers as they are known, are very common here in Singapore. I personally find this strange, mainly I suppose because I was a stay at home Mum who raised my kids and ran my home myself, not that all the people, locals and expats; who have helpers in Singapore have kids. All or most of the condos and landed houses have “maids quarters”. In the case of my condo, this is a very tiny space indeed, (which doubles as the concrete bomb shelter in the event Singapore is “attacked”!), it would just make me so uncomfortable to think of someone living in it. Also my husband and I like our privacy, so having someone else in the house is not something we would relish. It is just a very accepted and ingrained part of the culture here in Singapore that you have someone living in, helping you with your kids and taking care of your home.
The next strangest thing is finding that not all restaurants have their own restrooms/toilet! This was really hard to get my head around at first. If you go to eat in a restaurant in a shopping Mall for example, you invariably have to come out of the restaurant and into the shopping Mall to use the Mall restrooms! Very weird! There are some restaurants with their own restrooms of course, but for the most part you have to get used to not leaving it too late, if you know what I mean!
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
When you say Singapore, people usually think it is some uncivilized third World country. This couldn’t be further from the truth. My husband and I have dubbed it “Asia for beginners”! Singapore is a very modern vibrant city with marvelous buildings and infrastructure. Of course there are parts that have retained it’s old world charm, but for the most part it is easy to live and work here in Singapore. There are massive amounts of construction going on here, a lot of it on land reclaimed from the sea. We have some marvelous buildings such as The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the newly opened Gardens of the Bay that give modern architecture anywhere a run for it’s money.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Cost of living in Singapore is very high compared to the USA. Housing is the worst, our small apartment here in Singapore costs not only an arm and a leg, but approximately $7,00 US dollars a month to rent. Ouch! Cars are also extremely expensive as mentioned before, not only are they expensive to buy, but you also have to buy a Certificate of Entitlement from the Government before you can even go ahead and buy the car. This is done mainly to keep the numbers of cars on the Island down. Perhaps the hardest to take is the high cost of wine! Boy that was a shocker! Food in general is more expensive and eating out most definitely is. That said, if you eat like the locals do in the hawker centers, you can do so at a fairly reasonable price and the food is usually pretty good. It comes to a point when you just have to live your life, so after the initial sticker shock, you just accept that it is what it is - and start drinking wine again! Life is too short not to drink wine in my book.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
My advice to expats would be to get out there and get yourself involved, you can’t just sit at home and wait for things to come to you. Most expats by nature are already of that mindset though and are ready to get out there and explore their new environs. The internet today is a powerful tool that makes it very easy to find out how things work, and what is going on around you. Joining a club or an association is also a good way of getting involved, especially for those who don’t have school age kids which by default is usually an easy way to meet people. Talking to people is by far the best source of information I have found, it helps tremendously. There will be a huge learning curve, so you just have to be prepared for the inevitable mistakes you will make as you go along.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
My blog started out as a way to keep my family and friends up to date with what we were doing here in Singapore. It seemed like it would be easier than emailing people and sending pictures individually. Plus, I thought it was something that would keep me occupied. Having never done anything like a blog before I found it interesting and good activity for my brain having to figure out how to create my blog, which was a lot of trial and error. I also enjoy the social networking side of it, figuring out how to link it to Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter etc.
As time has gone on, it has become something I truly enjoy doing, I discovered a side to myself that I had never previously given time to, as I was always so busy concentrating on everyone else. Along the way, I have also discovered other great blogs and forums that I never really knew existed before so it has opened up a whole new and exciting World for me. Ultimately though, it is a great way to keep a record of our time here in Singapore - worth documenting, after all, we are not in Kansas lah!
Lynn's blog, It’s Lynny Kansas
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