My Expat Story: Yiqi Wang
A Singaporean expat in Chicago
At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*
Yiqi Wang is a 28-year-old expat, freelance writer, continuing studies student, translator and former journalist living in Chicago. Originally from Singapore, Yiqi moved to Chicago when her husband was admitted to a Masters program. She quit her job and moved with her husband to the windy city in 2015. Here is her Expat Story.
What is your favorite part of expatriate life?
I like the feeling of anonymity in a new city. It means I get to reinvent myself and do anything I want without having to worry about what others might think of me. I also like the process of learning about the different cultures and customs of the new country.
What has been the hardest part?
To me, the hardest part is finding new friends that I click with. I think it gets harder and harder to make new good friends once you are out of school, and it is even more challenging when you are new in a foreign country. Given that I am not schooling or working full-time, I do not have classmates or colleagues to hang out with. Therefore I have to reach out to new people through joining activities and taking part-time classes.
Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
I was born and educated in Singapore. My first overseas living experience came during my third year of university when I took part in an exchange program and lived in Taiwan for 7 months. After I graduated from university, I joined a Work and Travel program in the U.S. where I lived in Springfield, Massachusetts and worked in a Six Flags theme park for 3 months. After I started working in Singapore, I also took a sabbatical to take part in a cultural program organized by the Japanese government where I got to live onboard a ship for 53 days and did home stays with locals in Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan. Last year, I moved to Chicago from Singapore to accompany my husband who got admitted to a Masters program here. My husband is also thinking about taking part in an exchange program to either Japan or Korea next year. If it works out, I will be spending about 4 months there next year!
My favorite country to live in would definitely be Taiwan! I grew up watching quite a lot of Taiwanese TV dramas and variety shows so I am really familiar with Taiwanese culture, plus there is absolutely no language barrier as I am fully conversant in Mandarin. Taiwan is big enough for you to explore somewhere new every week yet small enough to travel around easily. I really love the street night markets there as you can get really good food and good shopping at incredibly cheap prices.
Where would you want to move to eventually?
Actually I am quite open to living anywhere as long as the weather is not too hot. However, I have a little fantasy of opening my own B&B atop a hill in Taiwan after retirement.
What’s your sense of ‘home’?
My home will definitely still be Singapore as that is where all my family and good friends are. It is a place where I don’t have to try in order to feel accepted.
What advice would you give to first-time expats?
Move to a new country with little or no expectations. Don’t pressure yourself to fit in immediately. Also don’t compare yourself with your peers back home who seem to be leading happy and successful lives without you. It is never easy to restart your life somewhere new, so don’t get despondent when it is not as easy as you imagined it to be.
What has been the most helpful thing in adapting to your home abroad?
The internet! Whenever there is anything I am unsure of about the new country, I turn to the internet first to find the answers. I also connect with my Singaporean friends and family through social media.
Share anything else about your expat life that you’d like us to hear!
I take this opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn new skills that I’ve always been quite lazy and reluctant to learn. I have taken graphic design and digital illustration classes since I reached Chicago and also set up my own blog. These are small achievements to me because I used to avoid learning anything related to computer software and social media. (I am a 60-year-old living in a young person’s body) Hopefully, I can also find time to learn video-editing next.
Connect with Yiqi by following her blog www.singaporeaninchicago.wordpress.com. She writes about her experience as a Singaporean Chinese living in Chicago and observations about the American culture from an Asian perspective.
[Image courtesy of Yiqi Wang]
*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at email@example.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions.
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