1. Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m Erlina Othman and I grew up in Singapore and moved to San Francisco four, five years ago. Growing up in Singapore was amazing, I was trilingual at a young age and ventured most of Asia- it was my own cultural playground and I loved it.
Everyone was different from the next and I think that is one of the bigger reasons why I adapted to San Francisco’s colorful vibe, so quickly.
2. Where have you traveled and what is you favorite destination?
My parents are big advocates of experience being the best teachers and because of that I set for America at 12 for a couple of weeks and packed up again, at 17 for Australia for a bit. Australia opened me up to the most beautiful of marine creatures. I swam with dolphins at Tangalooma, met friends who drove hours to show us around. It is there when I realize that, as much as I love home, there are so much more that the world has to offer.
In the past years, I take time off in summers to hang out with my twin sister in London and I enjoy the sun in Asia in winters. I have been spoilt with the what the world has to offer if we are willing to just step out of our comfort zone.
One of my most favorite destination from romantic Paris to getting lost in the jungles of Malaysia would be.. Drum roll…. New York City. I went on a solo trip there and fell in love with the diversity, with the joy of being alive. I couldn’t stay away long, I went back again in less then a month, with my twin sister and we busk at central park, took carriage rides with locals, took over a hot dog stand down SoHo, partied it up at Beauty and Essesx and The Box, hung out with the boys from Brooklyn amongst saying selamat to the lady with the torch. It was magical.
3. What is your favorite instance of cultural exchange?
During one of my trips up to Thailand The family and I headed up to Chiang-Mai and visited the famous Karen tribe with the beautiful long necked woman. A little boy, not older then five years old, gave me a velvet pouch his sister made him as he pinched my arm. That single act of genuine curiosity and acceptance will always make me reflect on that trip.
4. What was most surprising to you when you began your life as an expat?
I think what surprised me the most is how much I feel so at home so quickly. Don’t get me wrong I miss home tremendously, the food, the culture but being in San Francisco, being away for a bit, I grew to build my own life as I deem fit. I became more independent, more accepting of situations and open to new ideas. From living in a dorm full of women to moving in an apartment with one of my best friends to finally settling in my own space. The thing that surprise me most, is how I feel so much more at home here now.
5. What is your favorite aspect of travel?
I love hanging out with locals on a typical day. It might be playing guli by the kampong huts or parasailing through green waters – I will try everything at least once. I am also the biggest foodie possible, one thing that I absolutely adore is enjoying a home cooked meal or the best street food. If the locals recommend it, I will try it!
6. Where are you traveling next? What are you most looking forward to doing or seeing there?
I am heading to Spain, Madrid, next. Staying in Leon for a couple of weeks. I think what I’m most excited for would be experiencing the culture and embrace a place full of history and unique dances! I love to dance, so it would definitely be a challenge to pick up some moves when I don’t speak the language. I will also be looking forward to watching some games and riding a scooter around the province.
Thanks Erlina and Happy Travels!