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Singaporeans Abroad: Overseas Mama Yin Yin Aasheim in Trondheim, Norway

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Singaporean mamas are doing amazing things all over the world! Today we speak with mama of two Yin Yin Aasheim in Trondheim, Norway

Today’s interview brings us up north to frosty Scandinavia to chat with Singaporean mama Yin Yin Aasheim, now based in Trondheim in central Norway with her Norwegian husband and two children. Having spent 17 years abroad (and counting), Yin Yin recently returned to working full-time, juggling motherhood and e-commerce endeavours — even while her husband spends two weeks away at a time working in the oil industry. She gives us the lowdown on free play in Norway and the best souvenirs to buy in Trondheim.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Trondheim, a Viking town in Norway with my husband Steinar and two kids, Kai Markus, 6, and Sofie Elisabeth, who is almost three! My husband works on an offshore drilling rig and is frequently away two weeks at a time so you can imagine how things at home can get crazy fairly quickly, sending and picking up kids from their respective elementary school and daycare centre.

What brought you to Trondheim, Norway? How long have you been living overseas?

I started off working in a Korean bank in Singapore before leaving for a new job in Seoul, South Korea at 24 years old (I am 41 this year). I worked as a finance manager in Seoul, taking care of overseas interests for the Singaporean parent company for two years before moving to Vietnam, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands over the next eight years, working within the same group of companies. While working in the UK, I met my husband. When we had to decide who should move so that we could start a family together in the same country, it was pretty clear that it would have to be me since I am quite used to packing and unpacking… plus Norway is a great place to raise children!

Favourite aspect about living in Trondheim?

It is so kid-friendly! Even though Trondheim is an old town with lots of history, I love that it has the vibrancy of a student town with Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), one of the biggest universities in Norway, here. There is also plenty of nature. I am not an outdoorsy person, but who doesn’t appreciate fresh air? =)

And the worst part?

Lack of good Asian food options! As a result, I’ve learnt to replicate many Asian dishes.

Your most recent purchase

… for your children?
Pokemon box sets, a book, weighing scales, a doll pram, wooden building blocks, wooden dentures and a dental set.

…for yourself?
A red dress for Chinese New Year because I would usually prepare a steamboat dinner and invite some of my closer Singaporean friends over to celebrate.

How do you think parenting in Trondheim differs from parenting in Singapore? What do you appreciate most about it?

I think parenting here is more child-led, while parenting in Singapore is more parent-led. There is a lot more emphasis on play here and when I say play, I mean free play, quite different from the play-based learning we see in Singapore. Children aged six and below do a lot of free play. They will only learn to read and write at six years old in grade 1.

Read more: The Benefits of ‘Wildschooling’

Did you give birth to your children in Trondheim? If yes, what was memorable about the experience?

Yes, I did. Both times it started with hearing horror stories of people being sent home from the hospital because they weren’t dilated enough. I had a good experience for both births, both natural deliveries. Deliveries here are done by midwives and everyone stays for two nights following a normal birth. Medical checkups during pregnancy and hospital deliveries are free in Norway.

Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?

Pre-baby, I had worked as a finance manager for 10 years in South Korea, Vietnam, the UK and the Netherlands before moving to Norway. After starting a family, I became a stay at home mom (SAHM) who also works from home, running two e-commerce sites, namely Norway Wellness, which sells Norwegian fish oil, and tutu bloom, a tutu shop I was inspired to start after the birth of my daughter! Last year, I joined a Norwegian biogas company, analysing new opportunities and building financial models to help the owners make investment decisions so now I work full-time.

Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Trondheim?

Almost every restaurant in Trondheim is kid-friendly. My kids love to eat at Egon Tårnet, the revolving restaurant with a view of the whole city at Tyholttårnet, a 124-m radio tower that is also the tallest building in Norway. They also like Una Pizzaria e Bar because they get a free popsicle at the end of their meal!

Top five places in Trondheim you would recommend to parents traveling with kids ?

Pirbadet – An indoor swimming complex with a heated pool and a view of the Trondheim fjord.

Vitensenteret i Trondheim – The Trondheim Science Centre is kid-friendly and has plenty of interesting displays for kids to interact with.

Estenstadhytta – Go on a kid-friendly hike to Estenstadhytta, a hikers’ cabin where coffee and waffles await.

Skistua – Skiers would appreciate the area around Skistua, a cafe-restaurant in the Bymarka, which offers different well-maintained trails. You will likely meet many other children on the easy trails.

Marinen – A mere one-minute walk across the cemetery from the famous Nidaros Cathedral, this park by the Nidelva river is where many locals like to go during the weekends in summer for picnics. It has a playground, too.

Any advice for surviving a flight with young children?
Bring enough snacks, their favourite toys, stickers and an extra change of clothes for everyone including yourself!

Is there something that you do to keep your children in touch with their Singaporean roots?

Through the food I make! My kids love curry chicken and Hainanese chicken rice. I speak Chinese to them whenever I can (or remember). We celebrate Chinese New Year and we try to visit Singapore as often as we can.

Best souvenir one could bring back from Trondheim

…for a child:
Beckmann of Norway backpack.

…for a mama friend:
Chocolates from Nidar, Trondheim’s very own chocolate factory.

What do you find is the hardest part of being a mother living in a foreign country?

Right after childbirth, there is no support. There are no confinement nannies or family to help take care of your newborn or help with the chores at home!

On raising multilingual children …

My kids speak Norwegian, some English and understand some Mandarin. They have also learnt sign language since they were infants. I used to use sign language to tie the three languages together for them but I think my six-year-old is starting to be frustrated by my level of Norwegian.

What do you always bring back from Singapore for yourself and for your children?

Foodstuff! Prima Taste ready-to-cook sauce kits, ikan bilis and dried chilli! One time I even brought musang king home for my husband who didn’t travel with us. For the kids, it’s usually some summer clothes from Cotton On and Uniqlo.

Your top makeup tip for a busy mama?
3D, 4D or 6D brow embroidery!

Tell us about your go-to recipe for your family.
Fish pudding with potatoes and broccoli when pressed for time.

What’s the one thing you would miss about Trondheim if you moved away?
The view of fjords everywhere we go.

Thanks Yin Yin! Read about more Singaporean mamas abroad here:

Samantha Tio in Bali
Shir Leen Tong in Hakusan, Japan
Grace Chua in Boston, USA

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