A Day in the Life of an Expat


Now that the 365 project is over, I am loving my lack of a blog schedule. Daily posting was fun but it is SO not my style. You could probably tell from those daily posts that my life is not that exciting. At all. Haha!

Now that I live abroad, my life is punctuated by exciting things. However, most of my days are very typical. I thought I would go through a typical day in my life as an expat in Penang before getting into some of my adventures. Ready to get blown away??

A Day in the Life of an Expat

6am- Peter’s alarm goes off. He gets up and goes to work. I opt to sleep in for a little bit longer.

8am- Wake up. Curse myself for sleeping in so late. Walk into the living and am hit with a wall of hot and humid air. Quickly turn on the wall air-conditioning unit. Open the door to the balcony and check out the weather. Yup, hot and humid. Maybe some rain?


9am– Make myself some breakfast, typically a banana/egg pancake smothered in peanut butter with a cup of ginseng tea (with ACV). Read a book while eating.
10am– Try to access the internet and call my family. Sometimes the internet works and often times it does not. If it works I also check my email and do some work on the computer. If it doesn’t work I continue reading. On Wednesdays I clean the apartment. Scrubbing toilets is the worst.
11am– Drag my butt to the gym. Our apartment complex has a pretty bare-bones gym that is not air-conditioned. It gets hot fast despite the breeze coming in through the windows. I also get gawked at by the cleaning guys. Most days I rotate between the stationary bike, a quick heart pumping WOD, and some heavy lifting. An ancient picture of Arnold keeps me motivated. IMG_2962 12pm- Go to mini-mart in our complex and buy 2-4 big bottles of water. We don’t drink the tap water so we are constantly buying jugs of water. I chug a bottle and head back to the apartment. I wait to stretch until I am in the air-conditioning. Check my face… it is bright red.

1pm- Make a quick lunch, usually leftovers or a a can of tuna on greens. Chug lots of water. Work or read some more.

1:45pm- Start walking to Queensbay Mall. We have a car but I am too afraid to drive it. The mall is only a 15 minute walk and has everything I need. However, after those 15 minutes in the humidity I am drenched in my own sweat. Good thing the mall is freezing cold!


2pm- Arrive at Starbucks, my go-to office with free Wifi. My go to drink is a tall soy-latte or Americano and then I get to work. I switch between my marketing consulting job, IIN lectures, blogging, editing pictures, and actively tuning out the conversations of some particularly loud American expats who have also chosen Starbucks as their office. My song of choice to tune them out is Closer by Tegan and Sara.


6pm- Most of my work completed for the day, I pack up and head to the other side of the mall to go grocery shopping at Aeon. They have a surprisingly large selection of organic produce, grains, and eggs and a diverse Western section. I am in heaven!

6:30pm– With heavy groceries in hand, I trek back to the apartment. Unfortunately I have to cross a busy round-a-bout and always feel like I am going to die. Instead I get a lot of stares and even some cat calls. Yesterday I had a car full of teens yell “f*** you!” out the window. They were smiling though so I just laughed and waved.

Once I get home I turn on the air-conditioning again and start cooking while sweating my face off. Sometimes there is a beautiful view as the sun sets.


7:30pm- Peter gets home from work and we eat dinner. Obviously my meals are the da bomb.

8pm- Peter and I plop down on our comfy couch and see if there are English shows on TV. Sometimes we get lucky and they are playing our favorite engineering show or old seasons of Once Upon a Time, Switched at Birth, Pretty Little Liars, and other shows. Oftentimes Peter has more work to do so I read or call my family again.

11pm- Bed!

And that’s it! Obviously this is just a loose representation of my weekdays but they follow this basic structure. Once a week we go to the movies and on weekends we go out with friends. The only thing different from my life in the United States is that here in Penang I walk everywhere (still avoiding our car like the plague) and I am usually sweating my face off all day. Thank you Malaysia for constant heat and humidity and crappy air conditioning units.

People still stare at me because of my blond hair but I don’t mind too much. After living in China, I am not fazed. However, there are a lot of women here with their heads covered which is an interesting sight. As a result I try to dress much more conservatively out of respect of the Muslim culture.

Like anybody who moves anywhere in the world knows, you learn to adapt to your surroundings. You develop a routine, you make friends, and suddenly you feel at home. Penang does not feel like home just yet, but I am getting there.

Now that you know my daily routine we can get to the fun stuff! Stay tuned for more travel adventures :-).

3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of an Expat

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