“(Wikipedia) ‘An Expatriate (often shortened to Expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).
This blog aims to discover people who are adventurers like me, venturing out in a new place to call home and creating memories. I have previously lived with my parents and siblings in the Saudi Arabia when I was in high school. I have enjoyed and cherished my memories in the beautiful Sandbox I once called my home. Now, I am in a new adventure with my husband and sons here in Singapore.
I am featuring Expats in different countries to share their experiences and adventures. Meet Glai, a fellow Filipino in Singapore.”
1. Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and where you are originally from?
My name is Glaiza Villanueva-De Leon. Glai for short. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I worked and lived in Switzerland and I am now based in Singapore with my husband. I’m a Financial Analyst by profession but I pursue a few passion projects on the side: traveling, baking, and taking photographs, and writing about them.
- What made you move to Singapore? How long have you been here?
My husband has been working in Singapore for a long time and when we got engaged four years ago, we decided that we should be together and I should move to Singapore. Luckily, I got a job opportunity months before the wedding. It’s been three years since we received that blessing and I’ve always been grateful for that.
- What do you miss about your home country?
Family. Friends. Food!
- What are the wonderful discoveries and things you like about in Singapore?
Singapore is definitely more than a concrete jungle. I love its unique and futuristic architecture but its the existence of parks and nature reserves that I love even more. It’s a beautiful garden city which proves how great the urban planning is. I like how efficient things are, from transportation to transactions in government offices. I can say I’m spoiled by Singapore in these aspects. I also like the hawker culture because it transcends the barriers of race and social class. And of course, the food is cheap and so good!
- What are the 3 tips you can give to fellow expats in Singapore or those you planning to move here?
First, take advantage of the parks and nature reserves here. They say there are two things that Singaporeans love to do: eating and shopping, so most people go to malls for that, but I would encourage them to do nature trips, instead. As for the food, I fully understand why it’s the people’s favorite past time. So my second tip is to try as much Singaporean food as they can. My top 3 recommendations would be salted egg chicken, cereal prawn and laksa. Lastly, learn more about their culture, language, and even politics. Aside from being a good conversation starter, it’s always good to learn as much as you can about the place you’ll live in because it enables you to understand the locals better.
- The LITTLE MISS HONEY community gets inspired through travel, food and books. Can you tell us your current FAVORITE TRAVEL SPOT, current FAVORITE FOOD/RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES & current FAVORITE BOOK?
TRAVEL SPOT: I noticed that most Filipinos who visit Europe don’t stop by Switzerland but it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world! I lived there for almost a year and I had a wonderful time. Yes, it’s expensive but it’s worth experiencing once in your life. My top 3 recommendations: 1. French speaking region which has a breathtaking view of Lake Geneva and the French Alps. It’s just four hours away from Paris by train. 2. The town of Zermatt with a great view of the iconic mountain, Matterhorn. It’s like a real-life snow globe. 3. Mayenfields / Appenzell which they say is the inspiration of the book Heidi. Not only will you see beautiful landscapes, you’ll also witness traditional Swiss culture. Whichever place you visit, don’t forget to try the Swiss cheese (Gruyere) and chocolates (Cailler). And always be on time to catch the train! They’re on the dot, 90% of the time.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES: For a casual dining experience, I’m Here Café in Changi Business Park is a very cute place which also serves good food. Try their Chicken Teriyaki, Aglio Olio Pasta and Truffle Fries. You know you’re there if you see plenty of Teddy Bears inside. For a more formal and fine dining setting where you can go during a special occasion, the Dallas Restaurant & Bar in Suntec City Sky Garden is a good choice. They have big glass windows with a view of the Suntec city area so it’s perfect for bloggers and foodstagrammers searching for natural light. Their lobster bisque, chicken fajitas, and warm pudding are to die for!
I’m Here Cafe
FAVORITE BOOKS: If we talk about fiction, growing up, I was and still am a Potterhead and later on became a Game of Thrones Geek. I just love well-thought fantasy series where there are many important characters and you see them all grow, and you also grow with them. But for non-fiction, I love Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. As an introvert, I found it helpful because I stopped thinking of my introverted nature as a drawback. It convinced me that we have our own set of strengths and can be successful while maintaining the quiet nature. Another non-fiction book that changed the way I think is Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. In a nutshell, the book says that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach in changing our habits. The first step is to understand ourselves and determine what works best for us.
- Where do you get your inspirations? Who or what inspires you?
My first inspiration will always be my family. I grew up living a simple life in the countryside in the Philippines. I am proud probinsyana. After years of studying and working, my life changed significantly but I never forget that I everything that I do is for them. They inspire me to do my best and strive to be better. They also remind me to be humble, to always look back to my roots, to keep my feet on the ground but still aim to fly high.
Believe it or not, I got my inspirations for my passion projects on Instagram. In this platform, I discovered a lot of artists, creative entrepreneurs and other people who have creative pursuits. I learned that there’s a interesting life outside the corporate world and there’s so much skills and crafts that you can learn that not only helps you improve yourself but also gives you happiness and fulfilment.
- Share with my readers more about your personal blog.
I have a personal website, Oh My Glai! (http://ohmyglai.com) which documents my Notes and Photographs from Journeys Around the World and Through Life. In the blog, you’ll find my Photo Diaries and Travel Guides and also some musings and inspirations which I call Life Notes. I hope readers can find something from the blog that can help them in their own journeys. I wish to connect with like-minded individuals who have the same passions and interests and are going through the same stages in life. I also have a portfolio section where I feature my Photographs (Mainly Nature and Architecture) and Videos from travels. Aside from blogging, I’m also curating content for the @makeitblissful hub in Instagram, my account is @ohmyglai. Watch out for my curated grids every Monday! My online presence in the blog and IG are my creative outlets and I hope I can encourage others so start their creativity journeys. I’m one of those people who are confused on what I’m passionate about so I decided to follow my curiosity. That’s when I started searching for inspiration, kept on trying and learning new things and eventually moved to having my own creations and curations. I don’t know when or how but somehow I know that it will lead to a more fulfilling life and if it can also add value to other people’s lives, that’s would be so much better.
- Where have you recently travelled? Share with us some of your recent travel adventures.
I have always been a Europhile and an opportunity to live there is a dream come true so I maximized my stay and visited all places that I can afford in terms of money and time. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re all beautiful in their own ways. But aside from Switzerland, these are my top 3 recommendations because they’re the prettiest cities I’ve seen:
- London: Make sure you drop by the Notting Hill district which has the loveliest pastel-colored neighborhoods! You can also shop in the Portobello Market Road. If you are a Harry Potter fan, don’t miss out on the Warner Bros Stuidos and the Harry Potter and the Curse Child Play on West End.
2. Prague: Get the best views of this charming city from the Clock Tower in Old Town Square, from the rooftop of the Dancing House and from the Prague Castle.
3. Vienna: Catch an opera at the Vienna State Opera or see the famous Gustave Klimt paintings in Belvedere Palace or just walk around the pretty neighborhoods and stop by a cozy Coffee House to try sachertorte or apfelstrudel.
Trust me, you’ll fall in love! More stories are coming up on the blog soon.
- If you have a friend coming to visit Singapore for the first time and you have the whole day to show her around, which places are you going to take her?
In general, our itinerary would be like this: A quick tour of Marina Bay in the morning. Hawker Lunch. Haji Lane and hipster cafes in the afternoon. Dinner at Clarke Quay. It actually depends on the interests of the person but I am very willing to bring them to the cool public libraries in Singapore like Library @ Orchard and Bishan Library.
- Lastly, can you share with what is your inspirational mantra in life?
At the start of the year, I challenged myself to refrain from chasing anything superficial and worldly and focus on what and who really matters so my mantras in life are: Family First. Live a Simpler Life. Choose Experiences over Material Things. Never Stop Learning.
“Thank you Glai for giving us a glimpse your life adventures and igniting our wanderlust. I can’t wait to visit the places you recommended.
For more Glai’s life & travel adventures, visit her blog at (http://ohmyglai.com)
If you are an expat or know any expats who are interested to be featured, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.”