Time flew very fast. Suddenly, it has been two years since I moved to France. How has my day-to-day life changed compared to what it was in Singapore before the pandemic arrived? Let’s figure that out together.

To draw a contrast, I first recall my daily life in Singapore before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived (I am highlighting this as life was crazy everywhere during the pandemic), and then followed by a scrutiny of my typical daily life in France.

Daily Life in Singapore Before the Pandemic

When I lived in Singapore, my typical daily life would start at around 5:45am, the time I usually wake up both during work days and weekends.

On work days, I would dress up in my casual workwear. I work in the advertising industry, so I did not have to wear formal clothes. I would double-check my backpack jam-packed with a laptop, cables, other IT accessories, as well as clothes that I would wear in the gym.

At 6:30am, I would leave my home — typically located in a high-rise apartment building. I would take the bus or walk to an MRT (metro) train station, then head towards the direction of my office located in the middle of the city.

I would arrive in the city centre between 7am and 7:30am, and head to a nearby gym called Fitness First.

In the gym, I would grab a cup of black coffee, and do a 5km run on a treadmill on almost a daily basis, followed by some weights training, and planks.

Doing planks at Fitness First gym in Singapore.

After the workout, I’d take a shower, dress up, and then head over to my office at 9am.

In the office, I would hook the extra, portable monitor that I brought to make my life easier and more efficient at work.

My amazing office table in Singapore at one time. 😂

Even though I was relatively social at work and always surrounded with colleagues, I often preferred to autonomously work quietly and seriously. I always wanted to get as many things done in the morning when my energy and motivation was still very high. I also liked this because it made time feel like it passed in a blink of an eye, and then suddenly it was lunchtime.

I would pick and choose from any of these ingredients to make my own lunch salad.
It was usually like this, with Tabasco sauce and a cup of sugar-free soya milk! Yummy.
My favourite lunch treat: spicy Japanese ramen! Omg.

At lunchtime, unless I received an invite to have lunch together with my colleagues, I often preferred to have lunch alone on most days.

However, I also regularly invited my closest colleagues to have lunch with me at least 1-2x a week, often we went to a Japanese ramen restaurant.

Salad is often what I ate during lunch and I did this on purpose as it was the meal of the day I had the most control of. I actively watched my weight for sports performance purposes, so such was the effort.

Before heading back to the office, I would go to a Starbucks located in the same building as my office, buy a black coffee and browse the Web with my personal laptop or mobile phone. Ten minutes before 1pm, I would head back to work and continue the rest of my day.

Upon entering my office, I would first marvel at the magnificent view of the surroundings. My office was located more than 20 floors above the ground, with an epic view of the Singapore skyline. The cityscape never failed to take my breath away and to remind me how I was so grateful in life.

View from my office in Singapore. Amazing, isn’t it?

Shortly, I would turn my gaze back to my laptop and continue to work as a digital marketer, often managing a community of photographers, digital advertising, and SEO.

Things would slow down in the office from 5:30pm but I would leave the office building at 6:30pm on average.

In Singapore (or in many Asian countries in general), it feels weird to leave the office on time or as per indicated in your work contract. It was quite normal to witness colleagues pretending to work or to be busy after 6pm. From 6:30pm, everyone seemed to have left the office en masse.

After leaving the office, I often would not go home straight. I would wander in the city centre, often heading towards the direction of the Singapore River or the Marina Bay area. I never paid attention to this before, but it seemed that I often gravitated towards places with a body of water and spectacular views to enjoy my time.

I would wander in the city before heading home.

I would also often eat dinner outside at a local food court. I often eat in the mixed vegetables stall, which sells cheap local cuisines where I could select the healthier dishes. Then, I would head to the train station and return home.

Once home, I would take an evening shower and stay in bed browsing the web, social media, or some geek sites trying to update myself with the latest camera phones, cameras, or laptops. If I am not doing that, then I am probably doing some work. And then, I would head to bed as soon as my “sleep alarm” goes off at 11pm. This cycle would repeat during weekdays.

During weekends, on Saturdays after waking up, I often venture to the beach at Singapore’s East Coast Park. I absolutely loved going there early in the morning when there were fewer people. I love sitting on the beach with a cup of black coffee, often from a nearby McDonald’s, and waiting for the sunrise.

I absolutely loved seeing the sunrise at Singapore’s East Coast Park.

My weekends in Singapore were often action-packed. On many weekends, I caught up with my close Filipino friends. I also travelled to nearby countries to do some backpacking-like adventures either solo with my Slovakian friend named Jakub.

My travel buddy Jakub.

If I was not travelling, then a trip to do a trail run at MacRitchie Reservoir would be on the menu. I would be there until lunchtime before I head back to the city centre and do something else, like walking around the city, walking in the shopping malls of Singapore, in some random parks, or on a beach park.

I was almost always at Singapore’s East Coast Park during weekends.
My favourite local breakfast in Singapore.

On Sundays, unless I am travelling, I would wake up super early and do a long run from Singapore’s Marina Bay area to the East Coast Park area, or vice versa. This long, slow run would last for at least 2-3 hours with a distance of at least 15 kilometres. After my run, I would have a local Singaporean breakfast: my favourite kopi-c kosong (coffee with milk no sugar), soft-boiled eggs, and toast. Hmmm, I miss them.

In the remaining time of the day, I would go somewhere where I could do a fun walk or cycle outdoors and have dinner, then head back home to prepare for the next week of work.

Cycling on a Sunday night in Singapore.

A Day of My Life in France

I often wake up at 5:45am realizing that my head is on Reveur’s body, one of the two chihuahuas of my partner, who is fond of sleeping between us and sometimes under the blanket in bed.

On my right side, there is a cat either sleeping next to my pillow or staring at me meowing. My partner would still be sleeping when I rise up.

How my day typically begins in France 😂

After leaving the bed, I head directly to the living room to turn on the TV, set the channel to France’s BFM morning news, head to the kitchen and prepare two cups of black coffee from one of our at-least-seven coffee machines. Don’t even ask me why we have 7 coffee machines at home.

I would then hand over a cup of coffee with one or two pieces of REM biscuits to my partner who had just woken up and quickly dressed for work. We would drink our coffees together, ask each other if we slept well, and then watch the morning news.

Breakfast in France: REM biscuits.

He then rushes to leave for work as a chef in a lycee/college and reminds me to walk the dogs before he shuts the door.

Alone, I would then continue to enjoy my coffee and cuddle the chihuahuas and the cat, while watching the morning news. I would often get fascinated with the fact that I could finally understand the reporting delivered in the French language more and more. It really helped to have a French-speaking-only partner to progress my French-speaking skills, even though I still often get told that I cannot speak nor understand French well. However, I have reached the stage where I could exchange French vulgar words on a daily basis. It has become a part of our daily expressions of one another.

My life in France is heavily influenced by our pets.

Shortly, I would wash the dirty dishes left from the night before, change the dirty urine-absorbent pet pads with fresh ones, clean the cat’s litter box, and then finally walk the two chihuahuas outside at our apartment building’s parking lot.

After I have done all these, my homework for the morning would be considered done and I would change clothes, pack my backpack filled with computer devices and accessories like usual, and then head over to a nearby Basic-Fit sports gym in Roubaix, the city where I live in France.

My workout sequence is well-planned for the week. I would run 2-3 times on the treadmill or to Roubaix’s Parc Barbieux depending on the prevailing weather. In-between intense workout days or during recovery days, I would do weights training or hop on the elliptical machine.

Elliptical machines are my second favourite next to treadmills at Basic-Fit gyms.

After my workout, I would then take a shower, change, leave the gym and do some work in a nearby shopping centre called Espace Grand Rue. As it is usually lunchtime before this happens, I would then get my lunch first: often a salad menu. It is usually Italian salad, a piece of chocolate doughnut as a dessert, and a can of Coca-Cola Zero.

I spend most of my afternoons here.

Afterwards, I head over to one of the cafes in the shopping centre and set up my computer. With a cup of black coffee (or two) on the side, I would spend the rest of the afternoon working as a digital marketer or as a blogger writing content for my blog such as this one.

At 5pm, I would then disassemble my computer setup, put them all into my bag and head home, which is within walking distance. I would watch TV for an hour or two with my partner who arrived from work a few hours ago, and discuss general things about life. If I am not watching TV, then he would be watching Asian shows on video streaming apps and constantly reminding me to walk the dogs. We always need to walk them as these chihuahuas are naughty and often urinate around the house.

At 7pm, I would then cook for dinner. I often ask my partner what he wants for dinner, only to be told to cook whatever I feel like, so then I would proceed and cook whatever I find in the kitchen. While cooking, it would come to my mind often that this (activity) is something I did not do before (even to myself) — and I feel pleasantly great to be reminded that I could now cook, especially for someone who professionally works as a chef haha. They are basic cuisines but hey, he eats them. lol

At around 8pm, I would serve dinner, sometimes with an apero, and watch my favourite evening show in France: the Le 20h, an evening news broadcast in documentary format. I would make sure not to miss the weather news, which my partner has noticed that I am obsessing about (and guilty as charged of). While watching the news, we would complain to one another how everything in France is either payant (costs something) or the prices of groceries, rent, and insurance have gone up. I do agree, that French TV news really often reports on these topics.

After the news, he would go and have this bath and watch his favourite Korean TV series for an hour or two (in the bath). In the meantime, I would walk the chihuahuas, watch CNN if I feel like the French TV news channels have become very repetitive (which they often do), or do some work while being bothered by the chihuahuas or the cat.

Shortly before midnight, we would head to bed and the chihuahuas would hide underneath the covers to sleep with us. Shortly, the cat comes meowing on my side, demanding to be caressed until it decides to sleep near my pillow within reach of my arms. This cycle would repeat on nearly a daily basis.

During weekends, in the morning, my partner often heads to flea markets which are popular in this region of France and occur in rotation in many villages and towns. My weekend agenda, aside from the usual homework, would be to head over to the running event I recently signed up for or to go outdoors to do whatever it is I feel like doing that involves physical activities. I do this mainly to manage my weight and have fun at the same time.

Participating in running events during the weekend.

When I have free time, I love sitting in a random cafe in Roubaix with a cup of black coffee or cafe allonge and a piece of croissant or pain au chocolate. Doing this is a simple thing but brings a lot of happiness as while I am chomping on the bread, it reminds me of new life in France and how I love having more time to live life than constantly working as was mostly the case in my life in Asia.

Occasionally, we go on holidays together with the dogs and family.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *