Week one in Austin

13 August 2014

We’ve been in Austin for a full week now!

Slowly getting used to how things work around here, a vast improvement from the first night where we were wondering how to pay for our dinner LOL.

But one thing I could never get used to is the weather. It’s the peak of summer now, and zomg, it’s HOT. It’s a feels-like- skin-will-sizzle-and-burn kind of hot.

I mean, coming from tropical Singapore and living in Japan (REALLY hot during summer!), I’m no stranger to hot weather. But this is a different level altogether. We were out over the weekend, and temperatures hit 38°C!!! Felt like the sun rays were sapping the life out of me -__-

For the first time, I experienced 夏バテ natsu bate (loosely translated to summer heat). Due to the heat, I have no appetite and my energy levels are a lot lower. When I heard the phrase in the past, I thought it wasn’t a real thing, since in all my years in the Singapore heat, I never experienced it. BUT IT’S A REAL THING. Now I know.

Anyway, enough of the weather. What’s with humans and the weather. Tsk, they can’t control it but like to talk about it so much.

Just want to quickly pen down thoughts from the first week before I forget!


Living an American life

Almost every part of our lives is Americanized! It’s been interesting to see the differences from living in Singapore/Japan.

Driving – We’re driving an American car. I haven’t even heard of the brand before (Dodge)! It’s huuuuuuge.

I think you can fit 4 of me shouder-to-shoulder and still it won’t be too uncomfortable lol.

Due to the daunting size, driving was made even more challenging at first for Fu. He had to battle his hardwired reflexes of left-driving (for more than a decade!) and manage our new great white shark at the same time.

He’s getting used to it though, so it’s all good!


Food – I mentioned it before, but I’m still amazed at the food portions here. We were at California Pizza Kitchen and saw people order a pizza each for themselves.

We ordered one.
To share.
And we only managed to finish half of it D:

A super nice thing is that most drinks here are refillable, for free! We didn’t even know! We realized it only when speaking to a Japanese lady who has lived here for years and said it’s one of the things she likes about the USA haha.

I could even takeout a full cup when I was leaving the restaurant! Awesome stuff.


Shopping – Amazon Prime is awesome.

I’ve also shopped at…


To me, Walmart and Target are as American as they come, so now that I’ve physically been to both, I feel like I’ve really been to USA. Haha!


Laundry – One of my main woes when it comes to household chores is laundry. In fact, I even dedicated a post to it here.

In that post, I mentioned that I would love a dryer. Now I have access to one! AND IT’S AWESOME. No need to check/pray for good weather, no need to hang clothes out, keep clothes in. It’s just dump and dry!

I really love doing laundry now! :D


Dishes – We can has a dishwasher!!! Another awesome invention. Although I think Fu feels the effect of this much more than me, because previously, he was the dish washer LOL. So either way, it doesn’t make a big difference to me, heh.

He kept repeating, “We have to quickly buy a house in Japan!” (most, if not all, new houses in Japan come with built-in dishwashers)


Waste – This is a very useful, albeit a little scary, thing to have:


Just chuck any food waste into the sink, cover it with the black cap, flip a switch and VOILA! It’s all gone. Magic! No stinky, rotting food sitting in your trash!

The first time I ever heard of such an invention was when I saw it with Fu on Heroes, when Claire stuck her hand down an In-Sink-Erator to retrieve a ring she dropped.


Needless to say, we were both horrified beyond words and mentally scarred ever since.

When I saw the same In-Sink-Erator in our room, I whispered anxiously to Fu “Omg, look! It’s that thing!”

Fu walked over very cautiously and peered warily into the sink.

I flipped the switch and we both scrunched our faces as the sink spun to life with a quiet, but deadly whir. Horrendous images flashed in our minds as we instinctively hugged our hands close to our bodies.

I flipped the switch again and we both let out a breath we didn’t realize we were holding. Fu then briskly walked away shaking his head while muttering “So scary…”

Despite the fear, it really is very useful! We had oranges last night and I pushed the peel into the hole. Ok, I admit I almost wanted to cry when the peel got stuck on the way down and I thought I had to use my hand (!!!) to push it down.

But no way was I using my hand!
So I used my head.

Figuratively, not literally used my head, you crazy person!!!

I used the black cap to squash it down, and it worked! Then I turned it on, and the peel was reduced to nothingness in mere seconds.

I think we’re quite spoiled by the many conveniences here and we’re going to have a hard time readjusting when we are back in Japan!


Different pace of life

The pace of life in Austin is quite different from Tokyo and Singapore. Things go at a slower pace here, and people are generally more relaxed.

Drivers will give way to you (still haven’t figured out how to say thank you in driverspeak) and sales clerks will slowly explain things to you. Even at Fu’s company, they are very easygoing and the work-life balance here is amazing! They take the time out for fun – We’ve queued for hours for BBQ, had a boat party, and we’re going shooting tomorrow. All of these all during working hours!

Definitely a marked difference from fast-paced cities where people get annoyed if you as much as walk more slowly in front of them.


Things I miss about Japan

There are many things I like about USA, but definitely a few things I dearly miss about Japan.

1. Cleanliness. I’m a super germaphobe, so this is a major sore point.

There are no wet towelettes here. In Japan, at almost every restaurant (and convenience stores too), there will be little wet towelettes in packets that you can clean your hands with before the meal. IT IS SUCH A WONDERFUL CULTURE.

Sure, it won’t completely remove the bacteria and germs on your hands, but it’s about a million and a half times cleaner than eating with raw, goodness-knows-where-they-have-been hands.

I don’t understand why here in Texas where it’s exploding with tacos and tortilla chips, they don’t even bother to clean their hands before eating?! Surely I can’t be the only one who thinks that it’s supremely unhygienic?

I have to hunt down a restroom before every meal and it’s such a pain -_- I think imma gonna have to buy wet tissues and carry them around with me.

Also, why don’t they have serviettes – sorry – napkins at the table? Don’t people wipe their mouths after meals?

2. The toilet. I miss the butt-washing toilet seats back in Japan!!! I miss it so so much :C I kinda took it for granted since it’s such a common thing in Japan, but now I realize how awesome it really is! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, this is an example. (TOTO is the best brand for washlets in Japan!)

3. No tipping. Oh god. I really hate this whole tipping business. It places such unnecessary stress on customers! Tip too much and you feel shortchanged. Tip too little and you’re too cheap. I’d rather they just add everything into the bill and save me the stress and headaches.

4. “Unfriendly” staff. It’s a good thing people are friendly here. But sometimes I feel so stressed because they’re so friendly. (HAHAHA hermit much?)

The first few days, I would freeze up every time anyone asked me “Hello, how are you?” or “Hey, how’s it going?” I really don’t know what to say to that! No stranger has asked me that in… forever! Japanese staff are very polite, but would never ask you something as “personal” as this. Singaporean staff are simply bo chup. LOL.

I dunno. It feels awkward and superficial to me. People replying “I’m great, thank you.” like clockwork, and many times when it’s actually not true. I know la, it’s just a form of greeting. But I’m just not used to it.

Ok, I’m going to have to reprogram myself to hear it as:

“Hey, how are you doing today?” –> “Hello!”

“I’m fine, and yourself?” –> “Hello!”

5. Convenience stores. aka Conbini. I miss them soooo much! Now I cannot pop in one to fulfill whatever random cravings I have. Or buy affordable, delicious meals. :/

6. Vending machines. Oh man, there are hardly any vending machines here! If I’m thirsty, I will have to bear it till I reach a stall selling drinks, because they don’t have conbinis either!

I suppose we’re also quite spoiled by many things in Japan, haha.

This marks the end of week one! Let’s see what the upcoming weeks hold!


  • Reply Dale 13 August 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Yes to the new theme! I like nauticals! Feels like it fits your US holiday! Stick with it!
    I love CPK barbeque pizza! Sounds like you’re having a real good time:) But, I’ll still pick Japan anyday!

    • Reply Rin 14 August 2014 at 1:20 am


      Ah, the original pizza? I was deciding between that and California Club (which was the one we eventually got)! I think it’s definitely interesting living in different countries to experience the different cultures, but I think in my heart of hearts, Japan is still #1!

  • Reply qiaozhi 14 August 2014 at 10:18 am

    Life in the US sounds really fun! I dont mind eating tacos with dirty hands! Lol

    • Reply Rin 15 August 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Then you’ll fit right in here LOL!

  • Reply April 16 August 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Rin! It’s really interesting to read about my country from a foreigner’s perspective haha! Just wanted to note, if it helps, that I find that 18% tip if the service is good is a decent middle ground. Thankfully a lot of the food in Texas is relatively cheap compared with other states, but that also depends where you eat, so it can get expensive quick. There are a few places where you don’t tip as much (for instance if you go to a buffet – tip 10-15%) and if you find bad service, I understand it can be tricky, but I at least tip 10-15% if I have terrible service because the person who serves you, even if it’s their error, isn’t often the only one who receives the tips.

    It might entertain you to note, that I would prefer not to have a tipping culture, haha! I live in Taiwan at the moment, and while not having a tipping culture here has a few problems of its own (usually in terms of speed and quality of service, but overall here it’s okay), I’d much rather have people in the service industry paid fair wages, which is not often the case, especially among restaurant staff, who are often only paid US 2-3 dollars per hour and thus rely on their tips to fill in the gaps which can greatly fluctuate.

    Oh, and PS you can say “thanks” in your car with either a wave of the hand through the window or in their general direction with the windows closed. :)

    • Reply Rin 18 August 2014 at 2:16 am

      Hi April!

      Thanks for the tips! (excuse the pun lol) Yeah, we usually tip about 20% mainly because it’s easily to calculate haha.

      Yeah, I heard about the low hourly wages they receive! In Japan, wait staff are usually paid about USD 9-12 per hour. I think the stability would be definitely a welcome thing for wait staff in the US.

      We don’t really see people thanking others here, but we try to do it anyway :)

      ps: In Japan, we say thank you by flashing the hazard light a few times! In Singapore, we raise our hand in front of the mirror instead ^^

  • Reply On the way back! • tripleRIN 1 November 2014 at 7:49 am

    […] be too busy hugging my house, the conbini staff who will not ask me how my day is, the random pole on the street, as well as stuffing my face with Japanese food to even open […]

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