Why coming back is difficult

A few weeks prior to my return from the States, I stumbled upon an article about how the hardest part of travelling is coming back home and I couldn’t agree more. When you are away from home, there are so many changes going on, even if it’s with the people whom you’ve lived with your entire life. In that short period of four months, I’ve changed, my family has changed, so many things have changed. When you’re done travelling and you’ve got to come back home, suddenly, you’ve to live with how things were 4 months ago, as if nothing has changed. And truth is, it’s not easy.

As much as I value the autonomy and freedom that I had in the States, back home here in Singapore, I’m living in my home as a daughter, as a sister, and I simply can’t do the same things like I did just a while ago. Even when the responsibilities that we take on do not change (for example, I’ve to keep the dishes, mop the floor etc.), the way things are being run have changed. What used to be home-cooked dinners at 7pm has become store-bought dishes at 7.30/8pm – which affects the timing that I keep the dishes. Not that it’s that big of a deal.

Well it’s not like these things are impossible to live with, I guess I just need time to settle back into reality and tell myself that I’m truly home and I’m not going anywhere else anytime soon.

While I was scrubbing the sides of my New Balance kicks white (back to how they originally were when I first bought them), I felt like I was cleaning away the 4 months I had spent in Buffalo. But as I looked at some of the stains that were impossible to clean off and how they looked even more distinct against the white, I realised that my experience abroad was indeed real.

Coming back is difficult for me because as much as I missed my home, my loved ones and my friends, being away for so long was like an escape from all the nagging I’ve to deal with back here. It certainly isn’t easy, having that part in my life again, but like I’ve said before, if I can put up with the shit of others that are not my kin, all the more I can and should put up with the nagging of my family. After all, these are the people whom I’ll have for life.


Things I’ve learnt about myself from 4 months of living abroad

It’s been about 4 days since I’ve been back from a 4-month study experience that was laden with so much fun and adventure. I move about my daily life as per normal (minus the jet lag), somewhat in a way that I feel like I’ve never left home before. But then, little things like reaching out instinctively to the side of my toilet bowl to flush when the button is at the top, reminds me that the experience was real. It wasn’t a dream.

I never thought I would miss Buffalo the way I am missing it right now. I think what I miss most is the amount of freedom and independence I had, the ability to not be accountable to anyone but myself. I’ve got so many stories that I want to share but I don’t know where to begin.. And since, these 4 months allowed me to grow as a person, I’ve come to see myself in a different perspective from before.

1. I’m a true P.

P in this case, stands for ‘perceiving’ under the MBTI type. For the longest time, I never understood why I was a P. I’ve always seen myself as a J (judging) – making lists of things to do, planning ahead of time, punctuality etc. All of that still holds true, especially punctuality. If I’m a minute late, I’m late and I’ll actually tell people that I’m late if I expect myself to be a minute late. I’ll feel horrible for being a minute late, even though I know there will be people who will be 5-10 minutes late.

After living without parental supervision for 4 months, the P aspects of me started to show in the form of my hurricane-torn-apart room. Weirdly enough, for a person who is OCD and loves being organised (colour-coding and other minute details), I’m a messy person. I don’t know how I’m able to live with mess, but I can and I sure can bring that mess into other people’s places.

2. I procrastinate a lot.

This probably supports the reason why I’m perceiving. Oh deadlines, and all the tasks that I got to do. It doesn’t help that Buffalo was a place that was so slow-paced in comparison to Singapore, that I tend to take my time to get around doing things… And I end up having to do the last-minute mad rush thing, every, single, time.

3. I’m probably not as bad at cooking as I might have thought.

I used to tell people that it would be a miracle if I were to be in the kitchen and it doesn’t get caught in flames. Well, thankfully, I’ve not burned down any kitchens in Rensch (because they use a heating coil HAHA). I think for the most part, I’ve been reluctant to experiment with cooking simply because I fear that what I whip up would taste bad… And honestly, I shouldn’t even be having this mentality because every thing has got to start somewhere right?

I am quite proud of myself for having cooked some simple stuff – aglio olio (which was a total fail!), kimchi omelette, porridge (with lots of ingredients), kimchi fried rice (more like gochujang paste fried rice since I had no kimchi!), kimchi soup and more!

Now all that’s stopping me from cooking back in Singapore, is the fact that I’ll have so much cleaning up to do. So mmmmm…

4. I need to work on my determination.

I feel like how a person exercises gives a rough insight about what he/she is like – though this is just my personal opinion, and it is not entirely true. I just simply feel that it is applicable to me. When you are exercising, your body and stamina is one thing, but your mind and willpower is another. And I really admire those who are able to tell themselves to push on and not give up even when they are tired, because HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT?

It takes a lot of willpower to spur yourself on, to be your own cheerleader, to continue pushing yourself even when your body is crying (or sweating) and telling you no. And ermmm, I definitely got to work on that. I feel like exercising not only strengthens you physically, but mentally as well, and if you are able to be resilient while working out, it is possible that you are going to be more resilient when facing real problems I guess?

5. My greatest sin is definitely gluttony.

For years, I could never decide which was my greatest sin – gluttony or sloth. Both are such close contenders, but ultimately, gluttony has won out. Maybe it’s because I was living in a foreign place, so I feel compelled to try every single thing… But I just felt like my stomach was a bottomless pit while living in the States. I ate when I was hungry, I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was full, I ate ALL THE TIME.

If sloth continues to keep up with gluttony, I’m so gonna swell.

6. I am OBSESSED with lipsticks (and nail polishes).

When will this ever stop mmmm? How about my next lifetime? Because a girl totally needs a red/burgundy/coral/orange/pink/nude/red (oh did I already say that) lipstick.

P.S. I got myself a NARS in ‘Grace’, and I think it’s sweet to find a colour that I love and suits me. It’s an added plus that Grace is sort of my name because well, it’s one of the characters in my Chinese name.

7. I can’t pack to save my life.

Packing suitcases just triggers my panic button to no end – whether is it for a short or long trip, going away or coming back. I just don’t have that ability to sit down and think about what fits, or how to shift things around so that my items can magically be packed into the suitcase even if their shapes/volumes don’t change.

8. I’m a hoarder.

One of the reasons why packing is a nightmare for me is this – I like to keep everything. I brought back some of the paper bags I got from the States (A&F, Pink, Magnolia Bakery and MORE). I am insane, I know right?

Of course I needed to bring back the A&F bag, I can’t afford A&F in Singapore, so I can’t get that paper bag here. Totally needed it.

9. I feel more comfortable walking down the streets of South Korea, than in America.

Well, I mean I could potentially be a New Yorker kind of girl, I could. But being a Singaporean in the States, I don’t know whether to feel offended or not, every time someone I assumes I’m from China and automatically greets me in Chinese (even though they don’t mean any harm and they can’t really tell us apart. It’s not like I can fault them because I can’t tell Caucasians apart either). But it’s just weird you know, since I’m technically a Chinese who is fluent in English, so I’m neither here nor there.

Whereas in Korea, I’m just an Asian. Like I still do get people assuming that I’m from China, but I get a kick out of confusing them when I speak to the sales assistants in English, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese (because well, they’ve got sales assistants fluent in different languages). Ok this doesn’t even make sense, I think I’m just inherently biased towards South Korea.

I mean sure, I could navigate around Times Square on my own, go about doing my own thing but when I was walking down the streets of Seoul and sitting in the cafe sipping on my coffee alone, it just felt…. Normal, and good.

So yes, this concludes my somewhat lengthy post in a long time…. And I hope I get enough motivation to pen down my thoughts on my other experiences!

P.P.S. I know I sound bimbotic in certain parts, just fyi, I’m being sarcastic ok.

I’m just holding on for tonight.

Approximately half an hour to go before I board the plane for my Thanksgiving break.

Well, technically it isn’t a break, considering all the work that follows next week…. But I’ll just let myself enjoy (I hope) for now.

The past few weeks has been so physically, mentally, and perhaps emotionally draining. I don’t deal with drama well, period.

I’m surprised with how I’m holding everything in well… At least, well enough for now. Perhaps it’s the few months here, that has trained me to be independent, to be tolerant… Perhaps.

Even though things feel like shit now, there’s at least one good thing I’ve learnt from everything – it is the capacity to be more tolerant. If anything, I’m extremely guilty of not being exactly tolerant towards my own family… And yet I can be so towards people who aren’t even family..

Sigh, I wonder why… I guess I’ve just been a terrible child for way too long… At least, when I get home this time round, I hope I’ll learn something from everything that has happened… And I’ll tell myself to be a better person, towards my family and my close friends. But yes, especially towards my family.

So let’s get drunk on our tears.

But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

And so I confronted the inevitable issue – the issue that has been weighing on my heart for the longest time. First, I’ll just pat myself on my own shoulder for finally speaking up about it, instead of running away and hiding from it like I always do.

The truth hurts, I’m not gonna lie. But it wasn’t like I didn’t know it anyway. It was there in my face the whole time, I just didn’t want to confront it. I just buried it away and told myself it was going to be ok. And no, it’s not.

I think about the very lesson when Ms Ho talked about the issue about differences in faith and how it plays an important role and one would have to consider it deeply before making any life-changing decisions. Stupid naive 16 year old me just laughed it off thinking it was never going to be my problem. Guess who just got slapped in the face real hard 5 years from that day?

What should I do?

Maybe we’ll find a brand new ending where we’re dancing in our tears.

If you believe that everything’s alright, you won’t be all alone tonight.

So I’m doing that same thing again, the same thing I told myself not to repeat ever since I went to Korea. There’s just something about being in a foreign place on your own, and especially when I’m that kind of person who does not seek that much connection from my friends, I find myself clamming up and going back to my shell.

That is not to say that I’m distancing myself from them whatsoever. I still feel that my friendships are the same, I still anticipate the day when I get to go back home and see their lovely faces. It’s just I tend to be over-independent and not want open up as much as I would love to if I weren’t in a different country, especially with the 13 hour time difference right now.

I feel like a terrible friend – haven’t been Skyping anyone at all, even my texts via WhatsApp/LINE/Kakaotalk are so limited (I’m so terribly sorry to my close friends….) And even so, I don’t exactly feel lonely at all…

Until last night, while studying for a quiz… I just got hit by a wave of emotions. I felt downright shitty. I wished there was someone to talk to, not just via text or Skype, just face to face. I’ve got a million of emotions and thoughts to confront, and I don’t know where to begin.

Perhaps the thought of returning home is somewhat comforting, considering that I only have slightly more than a month left. But even then, I hate the idea of leaving this place. I feel lost at the thought of leaving a place I’ve grown attached to, a place that has helped me develop my self-identity and all, and I would hate to go back home and sort of lose all that.

I guess that’s why they say that returning home is harder than travelling far away. I am so going to miss the freedom and independence I have. Sure, I have to do my own laundry, cook for myself, buy my groceries – but that is life! Et la vie est très belle! I go home with the thought of wanting to experiment more with cooking but at the same time, I’m not sure I want to (oh boy, I can cut myself some slack when it comes to cleaning up here)

I love how I am able to drive (though I’m not supposed to) and experience new things for myself despite being in a dead town with hardly anything to do. Sure, Singapore is so much more vibrant, but I’m going to get bored again ultimately, because I’m back to that old lifestyle that I feel so restricted in.

Ah well well, that’s me and my contradicting self, again.

And it seems I’ve gone off topic again but yeah, I really want someone to talk to in person.

Oh, won’t you stay with me?

It’s been two months since I last blogged… While I have so many thoughts running through my head, I’m constantly so overwhelmed by the workload from school. It’s the same cycle – assignments, tests, readings.. This goes on and on non-stop, and I just simply let these thoughts run to nowhere till they come back and hit me again.

I’ve been thinking a lot, on my life, my beliefs, where I am now, where I want to be in the future, my friendships, my relationships.. And I just wish to go back to the past when things were simpler, when I would do something because I felt like doing so, rather than having to go through so many considerations.

More importantly, I’ve been giving a lot of thought into one word – faith.

For the longest time, I’ve simply been laughing this issue off, simply because faith is not something I grew up with. Faith has never exactly been a part of me. Sure, I’ve brushed shoulders with it numerous of times in my life, but I’ve always believed that I know exactly where my stance is on faith.

But these two months, I’ve just been pondering a lot. And I still think my stance on faith has not changed.

And it sucks to know that faith is what is standing between me and a hell lot of things I desire but I know should not be doing so.

I hate how at the end of the day, things could always go so right in every way but there is that one thing that ties so strongly to who you are as a person and you’re like nah.

I’m making all these mistakes, but I can’t help it. The temptation is too great.

Settling down in a foreign land.

I’m not sure if it’s due to the long duration of my stay here in the States or what, but this trip seems to be the most unprepared one I’ve ever had.


I was partially overconfident when it came to packing and getting ready because I thought a month in Korea had prepped me for this trip, and I was going to be totally ready – from staying for a period of time to thermal wear.

The 20 hours flight, excluding transit hours was pretty torturous. I never liked sitting on planes for long hours anyway. The whole flying journey just got worse when we were surrounded by really inconsiderate and selfish passengers.


On the empty train towards the budget terminal.

The JFK airport paled in comparison to Changi Airport, or maybe it was just the budget terminal, I don’t know for sure. For a huge airport the scale of JFK, I would have imagined it to be public-friendly, for example 24/7 cafés at every terminal, sufficient seating area etc. But nope. Nothing was available.. (I might be wrong since I was at a budget terminal). It didn’t help that there were insufficient seats and many travellers like us, waiting for their flight had to sit around on the floor like a homeless wreck.

The one great thing the airport had was wifi, which was totally edible at 3am. 


And then we zipped off to Buffalo via JetBlue. I was way too tired that I slept through the short flight. When I opened my eyes and looked out of the window, I was truly amazed by what I saw.

Buffalo was unlike New York or Singapore; it looked so chill even from above. There was so much greenery, everything just looked so peaceful even though I was still physically on the plane. When we got off the plane and out of the airport, I saw how serene the entire place was. Not too sure if it’s my kind of thing yet, but it definitely is a refreshing change from the usual hustle and bustle that I’ve experienced for 21 years of my life back in Singapore.


We were picked up by the super awesome and friendly people from the Singapore Student Association (SGSA), who were incredibly patient and helpful for that day. Debbie and Keith brought us to the Original Pancake House for breakfast. I got myself some banana pancakes, and they were extremely light and fluffy. But the portion was hugeeeee. I can never finish an adult portion here in the States, I guess.


During the drive around the quiet neighbourhood, I was in awe by how all the houses looked. I loved how each house would look totally different from one another – from the colour to the structure – yet they all just seemed to fit perfectly side by side. Every house looked like it popped up from a fairytale, and I would love to be able to stay in a house like that someday. But oh boy, it’ll never happen in Singapore…


We went to Walmart to grab some necessities and for some reason, it just didn’t seem as big as I thought it would be. Sure, it was 10x larger than the NTUC outlets in Singapore, but I guess all the talk on how huge the supermarkets are kind of got my expectations up a little and when I went into Walmart, I was like ‘oh okay, is that all?’

On the other hand, when we got to Wegmans a few days later, I fell in love with it. It is such an amazing supermarket, and I would love to go there to buy groceries and actually cook. The huge amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables just looked so attractive, and I was a little distracted by the flowers available in a corner too.

After all the shopping, we finally checked into the residence that we are going to be living in for the next four months…20140824-144729-53249608.jpg

Villas on Rensch literally looks like what you’ll see on a postcard. I absolutely love the shade of blue that the apartments were painted in. The entire place really looked exactly like what it was on the website, it was so stunning. The gym is huge and I’ve used it a couple of times. Thumbs up to all the interesting equipment that I’ve never seen before prior to this trip and now I actually get to use them!


Way too beautiful. The rent is expensive but we are paying for what we get.


What our apartment looks like from outside.


A nice super single (American sized?) bed which is extremely comfy… Either that or I was too tired from the long flight and time difference. I think I’ll resent my small bed when I return home at the end of the year.


Extremely messy dresser and side table.


My first ever walk-in wardrobe which I’ll never be able to fill up (and I probably shouldn’t attempt to do so) for the next 4 months! I absolutely love the space though it can feel kinda creepy at times, since I’m so used to my small bedroom.


Oh the luxury of being able to hang up my stuff without them being all cramped together.


And the nice little toilet which is just the perfect size, with sufficient space in the cupboard and the medicinal cupboard.20140824-144733-53253727.jpg


I was really lucky to have won a pair of tickets to the Buffalo Wing Festival which will be happening this weekend! In a span of just one week, I’ve eaten wings twice and I’d conclude that Americans (or Buffalonians) have an extremely different liking when it comes to the flavour of the wings.

We tried Duffs first, which was supposedly one of the best, with the other contender being Anchor Bar. But nah, Duffs sort of failed to live up to our expectations… When it comes to the tenderness or juiciness of the meat, I’m no expert but personally, I didn’t like the type of sauce used.. It was nothing like the Buffalo wings that we have in Singapore. The Singaporean version has been changed to cater to the Singaporeans’ liking, and they taste totally awesome – a nice kick of spiciness and not too sour. However, Duffs’ wings seem to have just been coated with chilli oil and a lot of lime juice… The sauce was not well-infused with the meat.. I guess Singaporeans do take their chicken wings seriously. Nothing beats our BBQed chicken wings!

Our dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings was pretty pleasant though, and yes, the American favourite ‘spicy garlic’ flavour was not to our liking at all. For the first time in my life, I tried wings of so many different interesting flavours – parmesan garlic, asian zing, thai curry etc. – and I absolutely loved them, especially the parmesan garlic.

Despite not being a cheese lover, I’ve eaten so much cheese in one week than in my entire lifetime. The cheese curds at BWW were so delicious, I kid you not. They were fried to perfection – crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. Mozzarella sticks have got nothing on these cheese curds. I could finish a whole basket of them on my own.


Despite the rather unpredictable weather (really cold and windy to really hot and sunny), the walk to school is pretty enjoyable… Maybe not so much when the traffic signals are unclear.


The school is just a quick 10-minute walk away, which is a good exercise. But it’s not that fun walking from Rensch to Baird Hall, which I learnt the hard way from today. It’s about a 20 minute walk in the hot sun. Not cool at all.


I love how the entire place is so scenic and the grass just looks so unreal. The grass all seemed like carpet grass and the grass patches looked like they would be fun to roll in.


So much grass.


Our rented car, which stuck through with us for a week, while we made trips to Walmart, Wegmans and Walden Galleria. Dear Toyota, you will be missed. I loved the times when we would blast the radio and sing in the car (with harmonisation) while driving down the highway. I will miss the smell of your leather seats and try not to compare you to our second-hand car.


Suaku me have also finally tried Tim Hortons. The drinks are so much cheaper as compared to Starbucks… But they are so sweet, I think my kidneys  shrivel every single time I order a hot drink there. I might just go back to Starbucks again. Doesn’t help that Starbucks has such yummy bagels, like the multi-grain and everything cheese one. I’m going to turn into a cheese addict.


And being such a loyal student from Buffalo (sarcasm), of course I would buy a Yankees cap over a cap which says ‘BULLS/University at Buffalo’. Hah. The Yankees cap (can’t see the logo here) was such a steal though ($32USD), I simply could not resist it. It was the perfect colour (navy with green on the underside of the cap) and fit!! I will wear caps more frequently!!!


Oh Buffalo, you look amazing during sunset.


That’s it for my first week!

We went to the Buffalo Zoo though to be honest, there isn’t much to talk about, since zoos everywhere pretty much have similar animals. While the zoo did not have as much variety as compared to the Singapore Zoo, it felt more relaxing, like a neighbourhood park with animals as an added feature. Wanted to get a magnet for my aunt (magnet collecting maniac) but they were not available!!! So I got a giraffe nanoblock kit for myself in the end! I’m starting to hoard numerous nanoblock kits… I’ve still got 4 undone at home. One can never have enough nanoblocks.

Late night thoughts.

I’m not too sure how I can sleep tonight, considering the things that have been happening and I’m having my first lesson all by myself tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty anxious and nervous, yet excited all at the same time. The thought of making new friends, yet wondering if I’ll be the only one in class without any friends.

Before I go to bed with a heavy heart, I just wanted to pour out some of my thoughts here. I somehow hate that 12-hour difference, being unable to go to a friend and just talk about my issues and know that they’ll be able to reply instantaneously. I guess it’s an opportunity for me to be more resilient emotionally.

Let’s just say, I’m not angry (who am I to feel angry anyway). What I’m feeling is disappointment.

The thing is it wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting it. Well, but I still tried to trust anyway and I guess a woman’s sixth sense is ultimately pretty damn accurate. I don’t know what I should do or say. I’m more affected (and upset) than I thought I would be. But it’s okay. I wasn’t expecting much anyway. Just don’t make promises that you can’t keep.



Finally settling into Buffalo now that it’s almost been a week. I’ve been extremely exhausted though, so I hope I’ll be able to catch up on my sleep before the semester officially starts.

Even though it’s just been one week, it somehow feels like eternity, as if a month or more have passed. With all the things going on in my life, I’m not too sure if I’m all that happy.

A part of me wants to go home so badly but another part of me just wants to stay here and forget about what’s going on back in Singapore.

Yeah, maybe it’s just me. Escaping and choosing the easiest way out is the way I do things.

I’m hoping to be able to complete a blogpost about my first week here in the States… But neither my body nor my extremely slow laptop is helping at all.

Oh wells, goodnight. Gonna crash.


By the time this gets published on my blog, I’d be on the plane, all the way towards the other side of the world. Unlike the trip to Korea last December, I’m feeling a whole lot more dread and less excitement this time round. I mean, I am excited and all, but I’m apprehensive, paranoid and worried.

I feel great that this is an opportunity for me to be independent, to be a better manager of my own finances (Trying not to blow off $3000 in a month like I did in Seoul…. Woops).. I look forward to having a room of my own, with a walk-in wardrobe and a personal toilet. I don’t exactly look forward to doing all the chores but I guess this is part of my mini training to become a domestic goddess in the future! Maybe I know I’m a step closer to living less like a bum!

However, many things have happened in the past week. I feel sort of lost and a wave of uncertainty just hits me and spins me silly. I feel nervous thinking about how I’m going to get through the next four months.. But I guess, this is a period that will just train me to be a person that’ll be stronger on many more levels – emotionally, mentally and all.

I feel lost, saying goodbyes to my close circle of friends. What am I going to do without them by my side, especially with the 12 hour difference? Even though there’s Skype and all, the time difference makes it a whole lot more difficult to spend some time with them concurrently, due to lessons etc. On the bright side, since I’m a morning person, I’ll be able to Skype all my loved ones early in the day, which would be a nice after-dinner timing for them.

I hope this trip does not clam me up like I did while I was in Korea.. Back then, I sort of completely shut down from the rest of the world, and became extremely dao. The frequent Skype sessions with my family died down after a while and I was just too caught up with trying to live my life alone in a foreign place. I wouldn’t want this to happen this time round.

I know I can do this.

P.S. I absolutely dread the long flight. The thought of having to stay put in my seat for more than 10 hours makes me so fearful ugh. It’s like I can feel my skin crackling from within *shudders*