It feels surreal to be back in Singapore after 2 years. Everything looks and feels the same, the people are the same, the roads are the same, the shops are the same. What truly feels weirdest of all is I can’t remember much or feel much of the 2 years in United States. Maybe I have not yet tried to recall too much, maybe I’m still taking in the fact I’m in Singapore right now, or maybe there’s just nothing there I feel attached to.
Before coming over to United States, I was under the impression that everything is very cheap, and that the living expenses is much lower, or as I was told. After being here for about 1.5 years, I would like to ask those people that told me that U.S. have low living expenses to this – WHERE? HOW? Other than the cars, which honestly are cheap here (To be fair, comparing to Singapore, car from where ever other than, are cheap.) I don’t really find the things here cheap. Ok, the car and outlet/brand shoppings.
Groceries are all in USD, the prices showed all does not include state taxes which ranges from states to states. The variety of things we can buy are limited. (Lame example – nail clippers: You can get 10000 different designs and 10000 different colours if nail clippers from Taobao for 1/5 of the price here where you can maybe find like 4 designs.)
The restaurants here are even more ridiculous, other than fast food, normal restaurants can cost up to 50 USD for 2 person per meal. 50 USD-60 USD after tax which are not included in stated prices and 15-20% of tips. 60 USD is almost 85 SGD! Plus it’s not even any fancy food. Ridiculous.
I truly don’t think the living expenses here are lower than Singapore. There are many people in poverty here in United States too. Many times you can see people asking for help on the local community Facebook groups. Good thing is that people are generally helpful to those who are in need.
Actually, not everything are expensive. Shopping here can be ridiculously cheap. For brands like Nike, Adidas, Champion, Reebok, New Balance, Calvin Klein, and more, you can find apparels that’s lower than 20 SGD?! Nike and Adidas shoes can cost as low as 30 USD?! Sometimes things are so cheap you feel compelled to buy it. Premium outlets of U.S. brands are even more ridiculous. Lower end designer bags (Coach/Kate Spade/ Tory Burch/ Michael Kors) can have up to 70-80% discount off original retail prices. The next time you see someone selling these brands at ridiculously low price on Carousell and claiming them to be genuine. They probably are.
But of course, there will come a time where I think “hey that’s enough clothes, even if it’s this cheap.” – But today is not that day.
Oh man I can go on and on.
My initial objective of this post is to share HOW we convert our SGDs to USDs for spendings here. Ok lemme start.
All our income are in Singapore Dollars, cause our bosses are Singaporean, which causes a problem. US shops don’t take Singapore Dollars in-exchange for goods and services. When we just arrived in US, we used DBS’s multi-currency account to convert our money from SGD to USD. Which really isn’t very economical. Bank exchange rates are notoriously bad, we lose a lot when we convert larger amount over. Seeing that we live here, we have to transfer a lot and frequent. So I explored other options.
Thank god I applied for YouTrip before coming over here.
YouTrip (previously partnering with Ez-link) is Singapore’s first digital bank. I applied it out of curiosity and because I’m someone that will not miss out of free stuff. This card is so useful and convenient!
The rates are currently the best too!
The difference might seem minute, but accumulated overtime, you’re really getting a huge difference in money thrown into the sea.
Plus it has so many other currencies available. I use it to pay for my SOAS UOL school fees too, which is in Pounds. Plus if I am in Singapore, I confirm plus chop use it to pay for my monthly Taobao loots (I used to just use DBS’s exchange rate – thinking ‘aiya taobao stuff already so cheap, give them the extra loh’.). How I wish I have this card during Uni days too so that I can pay it with this card. The bank’s exchange rates are really daylight robbery.
All these extra money means more shopping. Which is what I am gonna do right now. Thank you for your attention, nice pal, see you next post.
On 7th of February 2020 was Wing Sport Day! For those that don’t know what a ‘Wing’ is an air force unit of several squadrons or groups, and Mountain Home AFB is home to wing 366 – which Singapore’s squadron (428) is part of. Whoever attends the sport day don’t have to report for work. Yay.
Initially I wanted to ski, I’ve never skied or snowboarded before this, as I heard skiing is easier. I don’t know what got over me, perhaps FOMO as most of my friends are snowboarding, I chose to snowboard in the end.
HARDEST SPORT EVER.
No matter how hard I tried I can’t seem to heel stand. (Using my heel as pivot to stand). NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRIED. It’s either that my CG is too low, or I don’t have one. After endless amount of trying I can only manage to stand using my toes as pivot. Meaning I have to flip like a fish on land with my face facing the ground to push myself up. Not a problem, if you don’t want to face the way you’re going, in this case, down a steep hill.
Got encouraged to go up the steepest point of the mountain after a few round down the ‘bunny slope’ – slope for beginners. They told me with a steeper slope it’ll be easier to master standing up, and you’ll be forced to pick up the skill faster with the speed and incline.
Welp ok, no ok. I TOOK AT LEAST 1.5 FREAK HOURS TO GO FROM TOP TO BOTTOM FALLING EVERY 10 SECONDS. (Other took 10-20 minutes?) No joke, I counted. I cannot stay ‘a stand’ for more than 10 seconds. Burdening one of my friend having to stay with me to make sure I stay alive. The mountain was SUPER foggy, you can hardly see any trees/slope/cliff ahead. Plus I can’t face the way I’m going.
It was 1.5 hours of falling, trying, falling, trying again and again. A few falls has impact as big as getting hit by a car. I didn’t get hit by a car before (or yet), but the fall impact was probably how a car hitting me will feel like. Thank goodness for helmets and soft snow.
But it was fun! Trying new things, even though you’re falling/failing more than half the time, is always fun. Grateful for the friend that stuck around, I would’ve be dead otherwise hahah. And the knowledge that I conquered (debatable) this tall mountain (tho by falling most of the way down) feels good.
10/10 would go and fall again. Might try skiing too.