'Some people said I was crazy': Ex-SIA cabin crew shares why she left Singapore for new life in Canada

'Some people said I was crazy': Ex-SIA cabin crew shares why she left Singapore for new life in Canada
PHOTO: Febby Lyan

In 2019, Febby Lyan made the big decision to swap a life in Singapore for one in Canada.

No doubt, it was a massive change but this wasn't particularly new for the Jakarta-born woman.

Four years prior, she had made the move from her home country to Singapore after confirming a spot as a flight stewardess for Singapore Airlines (SIA).

Speaking to AsiaOne, the 30-year-old shared her journey from a jet-setting life to settling into a new environment halfway around the world.

Go big or go home

It all began with her decision to swap the corporate world for a career in the skies with SIA.

Febby admitted that she did not enjoy the start of her professional career in the banking industry.

She'd already begun researching about a potential career as a flight attendant during her undergrad days, and the thought of travelling the world while getting paid to do so was intriguing.

"It was like, 'oh, this could be a good idea to do something different'," she said.

And why not try for the one of the world's best airlines?

That was Febby's reasoning as to why she opted for SIA from the beginning. She did not even bother applying for other airlines. 

She chuckled as she looked back on how "fearless" she previously was.

She was determined to make this career switch, saying: "I just had a lot of faith that I'm going to make it work. 

"Looking at the [job] criteria, I thought I had all these traits and if not, I could develop them. So I didn't really have any doubts."

Febby has been sharing on her YouTube channel her experiences during her time as a flight stewardess, such as tips on beating jet lag and how to survive a long-haul flight.

In one of her videos, she described the experience at SIA's training school as "intense", specifically the hair and makeup training.

"That was a lot. They would literally judge you in front of your face," Febby recalled.

Your ears are uneven. Your chin is too square. You have to cut your hair.

But it wasn't a case of her feeling any spite towards the trainers, as Febby understood that they were simply doing their job.

Jumping the gun?

After a few years of flying, Febby shared with AsiaOne that the constant jetlag took its toll.

Nights where she was lying in bed and struggling to get some shuteye became the norm, and this irregular lifestyle affected her mental health, she said.

Febby also acknowledged that she felt "underchallenged" and might have simply outgrown her flight attendant era.

So, what better way to challenge yourself than to enrol in a Masters Programme in a university located in a different continent, right?

Canada seemed to "tick all the boxes" and Febby narrowed down her options to Edmonton, Alberta.

It was an enormously life-changing decision and her social circle played the role of adviser.

"Some people said I was crazy, I'm not going to lie," she revealed.

There was also unsolicited advice from opinionated individuals she knew, claiming that a move to Canada was "a big mistake".


However, her mum and close friends were more supportive and had open conversations to help her consider this decision carefully.

There was a general sense that Febby would have "a lot to lose".

Back home in Jakarta, she basically had everything she needed—from food, a home to family.

It would be an entirely different ball game in Canada, where she would have to start from scratch and be "a lot more independent".

Despite the potentially unnerving challenges of living abroad, it was something Febby was eager to experience.

She told AsiaOne: "Everyone has different things they value in life. I'm the kind of person who goes after what I want. 

"At the end of the day, it might not work out but I'd rather go through it and learn something [from it]."

Wanting to fit in

Moving from the hustle and bustle of Singapore to the peaceful quiet of Edmonton took some adjusting to, Febby admitted.

"It was just really quiet! At 4pm, you'd see no one downtown," she added.

And let's not forget about the weather.

Throughout more than half the year, it would be winter in Edmonton and temperatures could fall to minus 45-degree Celsius.

While she had to endure irregular working hours as a flight attendant, being a student at University of Alberta had its challenges too.

She pointed out that the daily eight-to-five routine in university was a struggle to adjust to.

But in 2021, she graduated with a Master of Business Administration and then it was time to enter the workforce again.

This time around, her city of destination would be Vancouver, where she started a new role as a product manager.

At the time of writing, she had been living in the Canadian city for roughly two-and-a-half years.

When asked if she's had moments of regret regarding her move abroad, Febby was clear that she had none.

However, she was honest in sharing that there have been obstacles when it comes to "rebuilding" her life in Canada.

Looking back, Febby realised why her initial efforts to assimilate to life in Canada were ineffective—wanting to be part of the puzzle didn't quite work.

After all, the new environment surrounding her seems to be "more open" to differences and individuality. 

"Understanding that makes me feel more comfortable just being myself," Febby added.

As for others who are keen on following in her footsteps, she advised them to make peace with the fact that there will be challenges along the way.

"I think it would help set the right expectations," she said.

Last but not least, be fearless and put yourself out there.

Social circles don't form by themselves so attend that informal gathering or social event which you might have avoided back home.

ALSO READ: 'There is almost no benefit to even staying here anymore': Singapore couple relocates to Bali seeking 'better lifestyle' while still saving money


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