Singaporeans who are marking new milestones this year

With the new year comes a clean slate. Here are some people marking milestones this year

Starting Primary 1

Chloe Anne Terner with her mum Lee Ching Ching. She will be attending St Margaret's Primary School and looks forward to art and craft lessons. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Chloe Anne Terner, six, will attend St Margaret's Primary School. Her mother is doctor Lee Ching Ching, 39; and her father David Terner, in his 50s, owns an online toy store

"I am the only one from my kindergarten going to that school. I think school will be fun and I can learn new things and make many new friends. When I went to the school's orientation in November, I met a girl called Emily who will be in my class. She seems nice.

I also like that I'm going to an all-girls school because I think girls are usually nicer.

I will have to get up at 6.15am every day and take the school bus to school. This will be fine because I usually sleep at 9pm.

My mother has bought my books and school uniform. I like the polka dots on my uniform because they make it look special.

My parents say I will get $2.50 a day as pocket money. I haven't bought anything by myself, but I think it will be okay when I get used to it.

I hope the canteen has chicken rice because it is my favourite food.

At school, I think I will like art and craft lessons the most. And PE (physical education) classes too. I like running, jumping and swimming. But I am not sure I will like Chinese lessons because they can be difficult.

I will miss my friends from kindergarten, but my father says he will organise play dates, so I will still get to see them from time to time."

Having her first child

Bloop Desserts Studio owner Ong Shi Jie, who is three months pregnant, with her husband Satoshi Hayashi. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Ms Ong Shi Jie, 27, owner of Bloop Desserts Studio, which organises baking workshops. She is married to Mr Satoshi Hayashi, 31, who works in a bank

"I am just three months pregnant and have no idea what motherhood will be like, but I am excited and plan to take the challenges as they come.

We don't know the baby's gender yet, but prefer a girl.

However, once I tell this to my friends, many say they feel I will have a boy.

For now, we call our baby 'our little sushi' because my husband is half-Japanese and both of us like to eat sushi.

It's a pity that I cannot eat any now as most sushi contain raw ingredients and I want to play it safe. My husband still eats sushi though and sometimes in front of me. To be fair, I did say it was fine for him to do so. I guess getting to smell the sushi is better than nothing.

I have been very lucky - I've had no morning sickness and few strange cravings.

I don't think my tummy is showing yet and my friends tell me to use this opportunity to get everything we need. By the third trimester, I am told, I would feel so tired that I would just want to lie down all the time. I am tracking my pregnancy on my Instagram (@shhhijie) and Dayre accounts.

We are setting up a nursery and our friends have given us baby clothes, asking us not to buy any as the child will outgrow them quickly. We have bought some pregnancy books and are looking around for more deals.

The baby is due on June 29. I know my life will change forever, but I regard it as a new phase of life.

A random thought: My husband's birthday is on July 3. Wouldn't it be weird if our baby ends up having the same birthday as him?

It will be my birthday present to him."

Releasing their first EP

Singapore indie band Gilded Edge, comprising(from left) singer and guitarist Alan Francis,guitarist Melvin Lim, drummer Julian Stewart and bassist Nur Afiq Yusof, will be releasing their first EP in April. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Nur Afiq Yusof, 26, bassist of local indie band Gilded Edge, single. The other band members are singer and guitarist Alan Francis, 25; guitarist Melvin Lim, 25; and drummer Julian Stewart, 23

"Not many people have heard of our band because we were formed only in 2015, but that is going to change in a big way this year.

We just performed at The Float@Marina Bay yesterday at the Rock On! 2017 countdown concert.

Our first EP is also slated to be released in April. Its working title is 'cwtch', a Welsh word meaning a cuddle or hug, and it will have five songs, all written by Alan, our lead singer.

Through it, we hope to share our brand of music - a mix of 1990s grunge and Brit pop from the 2000s.

The main song is The Walking Dead, a big, emotional anthem about the difference between love and lust. The chorus will have you singing along.

Another song, Swaggerbones, is a fun, bluesy rock number with a funky baseline and tongue-in- cheek lyrics.

Then there is All I Want To Do Is Dance. The title says it all - it will get you on your feet, grooving along.

If I had to pin it down, I guess our music is about being a 20something guy - growing up and having a good time. There might be frustrations, self-doubt and failed romances along the way, but that is part of being young.

After all, we are very much a millennial band.

For the launch, we've been working extremely hard, jamming several times a week on top of our day jobs. I freelance in the film and TV production industry.

When the EP is launched, it will be available on Spotify, iTunes and CDs. We will also do a live music showcase here and a long weekend tour in Kuala Lumpur.

An EP is our first step. We want to release full-length albums and be recognised on the scene."

Watch the interview with Gilded Edge

Getting married and moving into a new home

Mr Linus Koh and his fiancee Priscilla Phuah in their new home, which is being renovated. ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

Mr Linus Koh, 32, assistant vice-president of group strategic marketing and communications at DBS. He is engaged to Ms Priscilla Phuah, 33, who works in the same bank

"I proposed to my fiancee in 2015 and we plan to get married on June 10 this year.

A fortune teller told us it is an auspicious date and we have booked our hotel for the wedding reception.

We are also having a church wedding, but other than that, I am leaving the planning to my fiancee because she has a better idea of how she wants the wedding to be.

I just hope everything goes smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves.

We bought a 840 sq ft condominium near Woodleigh MRT last November. Renovations will be completed this month and we will move in. We are currently living with our respective parents.

Thinking back, we spent practically every weekend last year househunting and saw about 40 properties altogether. There was always something not right, until we came across this place.

We like it because it is near both our parents and the MRT and it has a full kitchen. I can cook and she can bake - these are activities both of us like very much.

Although it cost about $1 million, we have been saving for this since we started working.

When it is ready, the place will have a mid-20th-century look, with an industrial theme fused with vintage elements.

I intend to bring over some furniture from my grandfather's place, where I grew up, and the items will make the place feel like home.

Two milestones in a year might seem like a lot, but I'm not afraid. Challenges are what make us stronger.

I am excited to have my own place and elated to live there with the love of my life."

Publishing her first book

Ms Nuraliah Norasid holding a mock-up of her debut novel, The Gatekeeper, which will be published by Epigram Books this year. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Ms Nuraliah Norasid, 30, research associate, single. She won Singapore's richest literary award, the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, last year and her debut novel, The Gatekeeper, will be published by Epigram Books this year

"My 85,000-word novel has been in the making for more than 10 years and I am looking forward to its publication.

It is a work of speculative fiction, blending Greek mythology with Malay folkloric elements, and the idea came to me in 2006 while I was pursuing my university studies, being a part-time barista and giving tuition on the side.

Since then, I have been developing this novel all over Singapore - writing in cafes, libraries and even void decks, wherever I can. I prefer to write on the go and outside my home. Strangely enough, this helps me focus.

I hand-write my manuscript - including all descriptions, dialogue and character notes. Writing on paper allows my thoughts to flow better and gives my mind time to think through ideas.

It is not easy finding time to write. Sometimes, I write on the bus or MRT in between tuition sessions.

Nowadays, I try to get up at 5am to write before I go to work. Sometimes, I stay back for an hour after work to write.

Sounds tedious? I actually feel fine with the hard work. Every writer has to go through it to develop his characters. Even now, I know there is still a lot of work left to do.

I am told at least 1,000 copies of my book will be published. This is more than I expected.

I used to think that as long as I got the book published and a few people read it and cared for the characters, I would have achieved my goal.

For my novel to have gotten so much attention and acclaim, I am very grateful."

Opening his first restaurant

Mr Yong Tet Sin in his restaurant, Half Pound Burger Bar & Grill. He took his retrenchment last year as a sign to fulfil his dream of opening a restaurant. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Mr Yong Tet Sin, 55, married to Ms Linda Teh, 50, who owns a packaging materials business. They have two sons, aged 21 and 12, who are students

"I am looking forward to the grand opening of my first restaurant, Half Pound Burger Bar & Grill at 8 Purvis Street, in two weeks.

It is a 1,200 sq ft single-storey establishment selling American burgers and dishes such as fish and chips, pasta, grilled fish, mussels and scallops. But these are not fast food. We serve craft burgers using imported Australian beef and our ingredients are bought from good, reliable suppliers.

Burgers are among my favourite foods. About 30 years ago, I lived in the United States for five years as a university student and enjoyed the burgers there.

I used to be a sourcing manager at a Japanese manufacturing company here, but was retrenched early last year, when the company underwent restructuring.

I took this as a blessing. I have always wanted to start my own restaurant and getting retrenched was a sign for me.

So I found a unit which was formerly a Japanese restaurant and spent $200,000 renovating and setting up my eatery.

I chose orange as its main colour because I wanted it to feel cosy and relaxed. I had wooden wine crates nailed onto the walls as part of the decor as they look interesting and my restaurant serves wine and beer.

I will be the one serving the drinks. A chef will prepare the food and I have eight other staff such as waiters and cleaners.

My dream? To open another three outlets of this restaurant within two or three years.

It is ambitious, but I want to dream big."

Starting a new job

Mr Kelvin Yeo quit his public relations and communications job after an unexpected medical episode and will be teaching at Singapore Management University and the National University of Singapore this year. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Mr Kelvin Yeo, 54, a former public relations and communications consultant, will start a new job at Singapore Management University (SMU) as an adjunct faculty member in its Lee Kong Chian School of Business. He is married to Ms Jean Pang, a wedding decor designer, and they have no children

"I have been in the PR and communications business for almost 30 years, working with big names such as Procter & Gamble, Gardens by the Bay and Netflix.

However, as my career progressed and the higher I climbed, I realised my job increasingly became about business targets and numbers, rather than advising clients or creating and leading PR campaigns. As time went by, I realised I was enjoying the job less.

Around my 50th birthday, I started thinking about what I could do after my agency career.

Something I could get passionate about. Something I could switch to when I turned 60.

I knew I enjoyed corporate training as I was already training clients in communications skills, leadership, crisis and media interaction as part of my job.

I decided to give teaching a try as it seemed a natural extension of training. So I prepared myself by doing a master's in communication management and also became a part-time lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Seeing students suddenly get a concept, or remember something I taught, was very fulfilling.

Life also throws curveballs. An unexpected medical episode early last year - which required three operations and a two-month hospital stay - made me rethink my career plans.

Since my recovery required a major lifestyle change in terms of my diet, exercise regimen and stress levels, I decided to make my planned switch ahead of schedule.

I quit my agency job last year and will teach at both NUS and SMU this year.

I know teaching will bring its own set of challenges, but I am excited to face them head on."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline 'Making a fresh start in 2017'. Print Edition | Subscribe