One very obvious difference between Chicago and Singapore would be the huge disparity in the weather. In Singapore, the weather seldom comes up in conversations and we don’t have weather newscasters because what’s there to talk about when it is sunny all year long? But over here, I find myself resorting to weather topics whenever I run out of something to say, because well…when all else fails at least we could complain about the erratic Chicago weather together.
The usage of umbrellas : Umbrella toting Singaporeans vs I-don’t-need-an-umbrella Chicagoans
In Singapore, we do not like the feeling of being scorched by the sun. Neither do we like to be drenched by the rain. That’s why you always see aunties carrying their UV protection umbrellas everywhere, shielding them from rain and shine. However here in Chicago, and probably the rest of the U.S, everyone loves the sun. You see people seated on grass patch reading or chatting with friends, you see people choosing patio seats instead of indoor seats in restaurants. In fact I think it is weird if you tell an American that you don’t quite like the sun.
But I am surprised to see that Chicagoans don’t even carry umbrellas when it is raining! Most people walk around in waterproof windbreakers when it is raining and simply use the hoodie to shield their faces from the rain. It was strange to me initially, but after my sturdy umbrella got damaged and dented by the strong wind when I was walking in the rain, I can totally understand why no one carries an umbrella anymore. In fact I no longer carry an umbrella either because the wind in Chicago is simply too strong. So strong that sometimes I have difficulty walking when I am against the wind.
Temperature Measurement: Degree Celcius vs Degree Fahrenheit
Everyone uses degree Fahrenheit as the mode of measurement for the temperature in the U.S but Singapore uses degree Celcius. It was slightly confusing for me when I first reached Chicago because I’m not too sure just how to calculate the degree Celsius equivalent when people are talking about the temperature using Fahrenheit. I needed to do some quick maths in my mind: the number minus 30 divide by 2.
Nowadays, though I am still not hundred percent sure as to just how exactly does 85 degrees Fahrenheit or 62 degrees Fahrenheit feel like, I break them into categories: 100 degrees means super ultra hot. 80 degrees means good weather, not cool but not that warm can wear one layer out. 60 degrees is great weather to me, cool and comfy. Anything below 40 degrees will be cold to me.
Brightness of the sun: The deceiving sun in Chicago
Many a times I glance out of my window and see golden rays shining on the buildings and casting dark shadows on the ground. So I make the mistake of assuming that it is sunny and warm without checking the temperature, only to be greeted with a blast of cold air when I stepped outside. Over here, the sun is deceiving; it tells absolutely nothing about the temperature.
However overall I feel that the sun in Chicago is actually harsher and brighter than Singapore’s. Over in Singapore, it is perennially sunny with the occasional thunderstorms and rain, but because Singapore is a “garden city”, we literally have trees lined up everywhere: one tree one meter apart lining the whole road or street. Therefore, even though it is sunny, I still get a bit of shade.
Plus Singapore has lots of overhead pedestrian walkways shielding you from the rain and sun everywhere,for example from the bus stop to the nearest block, therefore you won’t really meet the sun head on unless you are doing outdoor activities. This also explains why I was quite fair in Singapore although it is sunny everyday but I got tanned really easily in Chicago.
Humidity: Bloody Nose and dry throat in Chicago
I was really happy when I first came to Chicago and realized that the humidity level is much lower than Singapore. It means no more oily nose and sticky skin for me! But after a short while, I realized that my skin felt really dry, even after I slapped on thick layers of moisturizers. In Singapore, just a thin layer of moisturizer will suffice and I never once experienced the “cracked feeling” of skin before. Whereas in the U.S, It seems like it is quite impossible to survive without a humidifier, or you will suffer from dry wrinkly skin, dry throat and dried blood clots in your nose.
Seasons: Snowy Chicago and sunny Singapore
Coming from a tropical climate with zero season, unless you mean hot and not too hot, I really love the 4 seasons in Chicago. It is exciting to experience snow and to witness the leaves turning from green to golden brown during the changing of season from summer to fall. Even though it could get really cold during the winter in Chicago, I still prefer it to a hot and humid weather. My rationale is that you can layer up when you are cold but there is an extent to just how many clothes you can remove when you are hot.