Posted by: yannaungoak | June 30, 2010

Long Overdue Updates

Wow, it’s the last day of June already. And I bet it’s been about eight months since I wrote anything substantial about my life in Singapore on this blog. And my small but loyal readership (yes, I know your IP addresses) has asked me from time to time if I’ll start blogging again.

Well, I think it has to do with momentum, when you stop habitually doing something, it’s hard to get the ball rolling again. Also, and this is important, the lack of inspiration. When I first came to Singapore last year, man, it was exciting. Not that there were interesting things going on in my life at that point in time that are no longer happening now, its just that I was excited about things in general. It was about coming back to a familiar place after a long absence. About seeing things with a new set of eyes. It was about feeling that the stuff I had to say and the stuff I thought about were relevant, about feeling that I was relevant.

Well, that understandably fades away as monotony sets in. Boredom and drudgery are evil. Not being excited enough about your life to tell others about it is probably worse.

But that’s no longer true! The tides of change are brewin’!

So, here’s an update about the last few months of my life:

30 June, 2010 – Two important things happening today. (1) It’s the last day of my second job in Singapore. (2) I’m moving house, again! It’s the fourth place I’ll be living in since I got here last August.

Elaborating on (1). Yes, my second job. Since January, I’ve been working as a teacher teaching O-levels and A-levels at the school I used to go to when I was a teenager in Singapore. I was there for one and a half years doing my A-levels in ’03-’04. So, this time around, I came back to work as a teacher through just sheer dumb luck actually (more on that later). What do I teach? Physics and economics, duh!

But I had a blast! The principal, Matthew, is the nicest boss anyone could ever have. And he was the first economics teacher I ever had in my life! He was the one who sparked my passion for economics. I really consider him a great friend, and I’ll always try to keep in touch with him, wherever I might find myself later in life.

Oh, and the students. I’ll really miss them. Especially my A-level economics students. I feel like I’ve truly imparted something upon them, made them understand important things that they shouldn’t forget for the rest of their lives (AD=C+G+I+X-M!). That aspect of being a teacher is probably way up there on the list of “reasons for job satisfaction”, probably the only things that beat it are saving lives and creating original works of art or something.

So, why am I quitting such a satisfying job? Well, let me tell you first about point (2), moving house (again).

So, I’m moving from living with my othercousin and her husband in Choa Chu Kang, to living by myself in Clementi. I’m renting out a room in an apartment owned by an old Singaporean-Chinese couple. So, I’m on my own again, breaking free from the social ties of my extended family. I can’t believe I’ve been living with my cousins for about ten months. After six years of living on my own halfway across the world, I’ve become more acquainted with living alone than living with people I’m close to. So, nothing too strange there, although I’ve never lived in a Singaporean family’s house before.

So, why am I moving in with strangers instead of living with my cousins? The same reason I’m quitting my job. I’m going to be a full time student starting in August! 😀

Yup, after a year of “the real world”, I’m heading back into the snuggly arms of academia once again. I’ll be studying for a Master’s degree in economics at the National University of Singapore. It’s the most prestigious university on the island and it has a pretty good international standing too. Besides, from what I’ve gathered up to now, they run a pretty descent (i.e. rigorous) master’s program in economics, something that schools in places like the US have had cut down on because of funding issues.

And speaking of funding, the best part about the whole affair is that I’m getting a big fat scholarship! Whippeee! They cover all my tuition, miscellaneous expenses, textbooks, even airfare! Plus, I get a stipend every month, which is almost as much as my current salary as a teacher! So, I guess all the summers working as a research assistant in Middlebury and all the long hours I spent laboring on my undergraduate economics thesis kinda paid off. And sheer dumb luck I guess, as always.

(Quick aside: The new place I’m moving to in Clementi is about a 15-minute walk from the university.)

Dumb luck, of course, is also the reason that I got this job here as a teacher late last year. As you may well know, I came here last year with bright-eyed hopes of joining my bosscousin’s telecommunications business. Well, that didn’t turn out as I hoped/expected. They turned out to have a lot of “issues”, and basically the whole company kind of derailed in the couple of months that I joined them. It’ll teach me not to get into business relations with family in the future.

So, one fine day in December, I randomly paid a visit to my old school just to catch up and say hello to the teachers and staff there, and after a quick conversation with my principal and the school’s managing director, they basically were like, “hey, you want a job?”. At which point I pretty much said, “er.. yes”. I might be simplifying a bit here, it was slightly more formal than that. But boy, was I relieved.

And for the past few months, I think I’ve really become quite independent and able to support myself financially, which I’m definitely proud of. Also, at first, I didn’t know that I’ll be getting a scholarship for my master’s degree so I was planning to study part time, work full time, and pay for it myself. It’s not all that cheap to get a master’s degree either, so I was really putting in the extra effort to save up for the past few months, working as a private tutor after my work at school. Often times, it’d be midnight when I got home. It was somewhat of a monotonous grind but I find that times like that when I’m struggling towards a concrete goal are also times when I’m feeling most stable. It’s like your whole being is honed in on doing one particular thing, and getting it done.

So, that was my update. In a couple of hours, I’m wrapping up here at my job, getting a cab, and moving to my new place. Grad school starts early August, so starting from tomorrow, I’ll get a break for a whole month! 😀

Again, boredom and drudgery are evil, so hopefully I won’t fall prey to them and will spend more time writing interesting stuff here instead!



  1. Brother. Congratultion for the scholarship.

    Great that you will get one month break and going back to school. I wish I could go back to school with scholarship too… 😀

    Good luck and All the best…

    • Thanks bro 🙂

  2. haha sweet. that elderly couple in clementi wouldn’t happen to be my parents eh, hehe. where in clementi is that

  3. lmao 🙂

    you know, you describe everything you get that you work for as “dumb luck”…. is it possible that you actually earned it? o_O

    so proud of you, YN 🙂

  4. It’s dumb luck that the world/universe came to be what it is but the fact that every successful person on this earth has qualities such as dedication, hard work and the love for what s/he does seems to shatter your “dumb luck” descriptions.
    I love you, fats and I’m very happy to hear that you are going to GradSchool and that you had a great time teaching.

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