It all comes back

February 24, 2020

My grandparents were, by and large, emigrants from China who came to Singapore fleeing war (quite literally, in one instance—family lore has it that my maternal grandmother was running from Japanese soldiers when she came to a fork in the road, whereupon the Virgin Mary appeared and guided her to safety. Believe of it what you will. I've always been just the slightest bit skeptical.)

My parents, in contrast, were seeking something other than refuge when they arrived, separately, in Canada. Whatever it is they might have been searching for, I suppose they failed to find, since they returned to Singapore shortly after my birth. Which is all to say that when my sister and I...

May 27, 2019

On a walking tour of Sarajevo, our guide tells us that he was 7 years old when the war started. Little clarification is needed—in Bosnia, as is probably the case anywhere that has borne witness to genocide in living memory, "the war" can only refer to the most recent one. 

Relics from the Bosnian War litter the city still—most buildings we pass bear the scars of shrapnel and bullets. Others are more deliberate. The Sarajevo roses, concrete fissures that have been filled with red resin, mark the sites of mortar explosions. Standing atop one in a covered market, I imagine it to be the same shade of red as the blood that soaked the ground on the day that 67 people...

May 9, 2019

I was 11 years old the first time I visited San Francisco. 

All that remains to me of that trip is a vague impression of grime and grunginess, probably because the first thing I remember seeing as we alighted our taxi from the airport was a man selling "dirty" magazines on the street corner. Coming as we were from strait-laced Singapore, where even the likes of Playboy remain illegal today, I remember being positively scandalized. 

The second time I visited San Francisco, I was 22, a fresh-faced college graduate on my first-ever work trip. They had booked us rooms at the Fairmont, and I distinctly remember my Uber driver's response when I conveyed our desti...

February 21, 2019

It's been a while, so I thought I'd post something I wrote a couple months ago for the LSE School of Public Policy's blog. I've been thinking a lot about what public policy actually means, especially since I probably ought to have it figured out before I graduate with a Masters in Public Policy in a few months. You can read about some of those thoughts here, if you'd like.

August 24, 2018

I caught a showing of Crazy Rich Asians on my last day in New York, somewhat coincidentally just hours before I was due to fly home to Singapore. I’ve seen quite a bit of commentary in the past week alone on the groundbreaking nature of the film’s all-Asian cast, what its box office success means for representation in mainstream media, etc. etc., so I won’t linger too long on that, other than to say it was doubtless refreshing.

Instead, what surprised me about the film—and my response to it—was how it felt to see the country where I grew up depicted in full, glorious color on the big screen. It’s no secret that I have fairly mixed feelings about Singapore and my childhoo...

April 5, 2018

The idea of a borderless, nationless world has been floating around in the back of my mind ever since I devoured all eight (at the time) novels in Orson Scott Card's Ender Saga as a twelve-year-old. If you never made it past Ender's Game (or if you've only seen the movie)—I promise it gets much better. Suffice it to say that in the aftermath of humanity's triumph over an alien species, Ender's brother Peter succeeds in unifying all the world's nations into a global hegemony, following which humans proceed to colonize the galaxy, develop a (surprisingly benevolent) super-intelligent being, and all is unicorns and rainbows. 

While Card's vision of a unified Earth is p...

March 6, 2018

This is a little belated, but a month ago marked 100 years since (some) women gained the right to vote in the UK. In celebration, I wrote a review of Mary Beard's Women & Power, which was a short but enjoyable read. But, as it turns out, book reviews are harder to write than I'd imagined—I'm pretty sure I spent more time writing this review than I spent actually reading the book—so I guess there goes my not-so-brilliant plan for free books ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

February 9, 2018

I've been trying to get better at Python, so I made an attempt at data journalism using data from London's bike sharing program. The maps are pretty cool, if you ask me!

January 27, 2018

I was recently introduced to book-reviewing as a means of supporting my nasty reading habit. Here's my first attempt: a review of Toni Morrison's The Origin of Others for the LSE Review of Books. 

January 2, 2018

The consensus seems to be that 2017 was a terrible year for the world. Certainly more than a few terrible things happened, but in the spirit of looking on the bright side of life (thanks Eric Idle), here’s some of the good I chanced upon last year: 


In January, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. I didn't watch the ceremony, and that day I packed away the dress I had bought (months too early) for the inauguration ball. But the day after, I rode the subway up to midtown Manhattan alongside hordes of protestors clad in pink pussy hats and carrying homemade signs. I'd brought signs of my own, and though I'd expected to f...

December 15, 2017

I woke up on Wednesday morning to a chorus of exuberance over Doug Jones' victory in the Alabama special election. The results were heartening, don't get me wrong, but there seemed to be something disingenuous about the revelry, especially in light of the fact that almost half of Alabamians had voted for a man facing multiple accusations of sexual assault. Here's my short rant on the subject.

Edit: Ezra Klein said it better here.

December 12, 2017

Berlin is full of bookstores. 

My favorite—if 5 days here qualifies me to an opinion—is called Shakespeare & Sons, but you would only know that if you ventured inside. From the outside it's known as Books & Bagels, which is perhaps more appropriate given that it serves up sublime bagels — perfectly crusty and with just the right amount of bite, so good that for a moment I imagined I was back at my faithful Lower East Side bagel joint (Heaven's Hot Bagels on Houston and Clinton, if anyone is curious). To make things even better, they come in flavors like Rosemary and Sea Salt, a gift to the tastebuds after the sensory confusion of Everyth...

November 23, 2017

I recently reviewed the current state of the debate on Artificial Intelligence for the LSE's Public Sphere Journal of Public Policy. Check it out here if you're interested. 

June 29, 2017

My first day at surf camp, we walked out into the shallows dragging our nine-feet-long boards behind us. Waves crashed at our knees in a transparent attempt to keep us out. The further in we got, the larger they loomed, until what I knew were at most three-foot waves seemed to reach over our heads.

At the first lull in the waves, we hop on our boards. "Paddle, paddle, paddle," my instructor yells, and I splash about in my best imitation. Too late—a wall of cold water slaps me in the face and I go tumbling head over heels. When I finally find my feet, I'm back where we started, in knee-high water. This happens a few more times, until I want to scream, or cry....

April 17, 2017

Dear friends, 

Leaving New York was hard for me. It was sad, and that made it strange. 

I thought many times in my last few months - and said to many of you - that I was ready to leave, that somewhere along the way the city had lost some sacred meaning that I hadn't even known existed until the day it was gone. But even so my last week in the city was heartbreaking in a way that I was wholly unprepared for, and now that I'm sitting in a cafe a few thousand miles away writing this, something feels missing. More than just the comfort of the familiar, there's a certain emptiness where the knowledge of the city as home - as mine, insofar as a city like New York can ever belon...

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© 2019 Samantha Fu