Meet the expat who took a Sabbatical from her life in Singapore, to discover Chicago and herself.
17 April 2016| Last updated on 23 October 2017
We’re living in:
A bit about me:
I was born and educated in Singapore. I worked in Singapore as a broadcast journalist and print journalist for 5 years before moving to Chicago.
How long have you lived there?
Why did you move?
My husband got admitted to a 2-year Masters programme in Chicago. I decided to accompany him as it is a rare chance to get to live in a different country.
I treat it as a nice sabbatical for me after 5 years of hectic lifestyle in Singapore.
Why I like living here:
I like that Chicago is a big city therefore there are quite a lot of shopping venues and food choices.
The public transport system is quite good which makes it easy to get around even without a car.
One thing I like best about Chicago is that there are quite a few famous art institutions and art centres with many affordable art classes for adults.
My husband and I could choose to rent a house in the university but we chose to rent an apartment downtown as it is more convenient to get around the city there.
We are currently staying in a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago's loop area.
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What do you enjoy doing with your time?
I volunteer for a non-profit organisation that aims to promote Asian movies and films to the American audience.
I like travelling and writing as well, so I write travel articles for travel websites/papers on a freelance basis and blog about my life as a trailing spouse in Chicago.
I am also very interested in art, but I've never had much time to dabble in it due to my workload in the past.
Therefore I take this sabbatical as an opportunity to pursue my interest in art and learn new skills. Nowadays I spend quite a bit of my free time attending art and design classes such as digital illustration, graphic design and figure drawing. I hope to start on my watercolour class next!
What top tips do you have for anyone considering a move?
I think it is best to manage your expectations.
Don't expect to fit in easily and be prepared for culture shock and differences.
It is best if you are naturally independent so that you won't feel lonely or lost when you first move to a new place and need to restart your life.
Also, do research about the new country first so that you have a general idea of the opportunities available to you before you reach.
What do you wish you’d known before you moved?
I wish I had known just how many beggars there are on the streets!
It is actually quite surprising and slightly alarming, especially since I came from an incredibly safe country.
Plus there are news of gun shoots and murders almost everyday so I was kind of paranoid and worried about my safety during my first month in Chicago.
What’s the best thing about being an expat?
I think the best thing( and also one of the most challenging thing) is the fact that you get to restart your life.
In a way you get to reinvent yourself and do things that you've always wanted to do without having to care about what others think about you because no one knows who you are.
How do you keep a little bit of home with you as an expat?
Every time I miss Singapore's food, I will try to recreate the Singaporean dish myself.
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I have many Singaporean/Asian sauces and spices stocked up so that I can whip up a Singaporean dish whenever I feel like it. (One more plus-point about moving overseas is that my cooking skills have increased tremendously.)
Anything else you’d like to share with us about your expat experience?
I will say, it is a rare opportunity to get to live in another country.
So embrace it and try to travel as much as you can in that region!
To learn more about Yiqi Wang click here!