Sometimes where you live determines the standard of living you can afford. It can be a harsh reality, or something you deal with and plan for.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve lived in 3 of the most expensive cities in the world: New York, Singapore and London. Although salaries are generally higher in these cities to match the cost of living, if you are a poor student like me then you still need to be a bit careful with your money. Here’s what I learned from living in some of the most notoriously money-sucking cities of the world.
This is my self-proclaimed practical travel wardrobe for someone who would like to be more minimalist. Here’s my minimalist travel wardrobe for 3 months in Australia and Asia (Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Cambodia). It includes a breakdown of what I brought with me and a few things I’ve acquired on the road.
I don’t go shopping very often, but I can’t seem to kick this Kickstarter habit. Instead of Black Friday, why not check out some cool projects on Kickstarter? Many of them are promising shipping in time for the holidays!
2017 Nowhere Print Annual
Last month I bought a secondhand GoPro Hero4 Black and since then I haven’t left the house without it! It is now my go-to camera for photos and video. I plan on using quite a bit on my trip this year to Australia and Southeast Asia. Here’s a guide that I put together as I was learning to use my GoPro for travel photography. I’ve added plenty of example photos (both edited and unedited), and will update with new photos from my GoPro travel!
Updated: January 2017 from my travels in Australia.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a photographer. I’m a scientist. I work with numbers and stuff. But for me, the process of learning how to take photos is the same as the trial and error process in research. Here’s the information that I’ve gathered and some of my observations and suggestions for others who are learning to use a GoPro to take travel photos. I’ve linked to other resources where necessary so you can look them up as you go!
This is my third time posting a monthly roundup, and it’s starting to get to be an obsession. This is a dangerous habit! These are my favorite projects on Kickstarter November 2016. Here are my first and second posts if you are interested.
Projects I Backed
Bears vs. Babies
Ending November 18th
I have Exploding Kittens the card game, and this new game by the same creator looks to be just as awesome. The premise is that you are building a bear with multiple cards with body parts, with the number of cards being how many babies you can “eat” or defeat.
Check it out here.
If you are concerned about getting an infectious disease while on your travels, there’s is an easy tool called HealthMap to track current disease news around the world. You could find the travel health report from your government, but on this website you can see all the reports that have been released on a pretty map!
The global map
This is the main page of the website where you can see pins for all of the current reports for disease cases this week. This includes many different categories of diseases, which you will find in the box on the right of the map.
Disease categories include vector borne diseases, respiratory alerts, animal alerts, neuro alerts, and others.
You can click on a disease category to see the locations of reports, or you can click on each disease name to find data for that specific disease. You can also click on the time series button in the menu in the upper right to see the chart of cases over time.
Although American universities are some of the best in the world, there are plenty of good ones around the world too. I’ve had the benefit of doing my PhD jointly at 2 top universities on 2 different continents: National University of Singapore (NUS, ranked 24th) in Asia, and Imperial College London (ranked 8th) in Europe. I’ll go over some of the benefits of doing a PhD abroad in Europe or Asia based on my experiences.
I spent most of my first 2 years in Singapore, and the last 2 in London. It’s a long enough time in each place to get past the honeymoon period. You’ll be forced to adjust and learn about the culture in each place. It’s not a vacation, and it’s definitely not a semester abroad kind of experience. You become an “expat” of sorts, and have to figure out a lot on your own.
I love Kickstarter. Perhaps it is a bad thing if I start to do this monthly posts (see last month’s). I may have to enforce an annual budget for this. These are my favorite projects on Kickstarter October 2016.
Projects I backed
Backdrop, a theatre based Role Playing Game (Ending October 25)
This looks amazing because of the style of the artwork and the design of the game. Everything is set up as if it were on a stage, with all the characters and sets made of paper. This means that elements like fire and sharp weapons will play a role in gameplay (i.e. you can burn things and rip through the backdrop to the set!). They also give power to words and emotions in the game.
I have a habit of checking Kickstarter every few months or so and backing some projects that I find useful or really like. In the past, I’ve backed some travel related gear, ultimate events, and a few food or water related equipment. Here are my favorite Kickstarter projects this time round.
Why I back projects
Instead of thinking of this as buying a product, Kickstarter promotes the perspective of “backing” a project. This means you are an investor, no matter what amount of money you put in. By backing a project, you are giving the creators a vote of confidence that their idea is a good one and worth the effort.
I like getting updates on the progress of a project during the campaign phase and after it’s been successfully funded. You get a sense for what effort really goes into the process. Plus, you get to see each stage of the process, not just the end product.
Moving to a new country is never an easy thing. I sometimes think about how both my parents came to the USA with no English, and very little resources. I don’t think today that I would ever do that! Are you thinking of whether to move to Singapore? I hope this helps!
My parents moved because they knew there were opportunities in the States that they would not have at home in China. So, whatever your reasons are for thinking about for a move to Singapore, remember that it’s your unique situation and your own decision to make. And of course, if you are bringing your family with you, that also changes things. (One thing to be aware of is that Singapore has weird visa laws regarding children born in Singapore. If you don’t earn above a certain pay grade, you’ll have to constantly renew the child’s visa until something more long term can be worked out.) Continue Reading