By Alice Clarissa Soh
Economic & valuation services KPMG LLP
NEW YORK City - these three words alone often conjure up images of the Statute of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Central Park, just to name a few of the famous icons of the city.
Closer to my heart, however, is Fifth Avenue, (I mean Park Avenue) as that's where my office is during my working stint in New York.
When I was presented with this opportunity to work and live in New York for a year, I was ecstatic.
After all, having watched Sex and the City, it had long been my dream to go in search of my own inner "fashionista" in the Big Apple.
So last summer, I eagerly packed my bags and off I went.
Shortly after my arrival, I was already finding my way through this wonderful, frenetic and spectacularly pretty city.
As most parts of Manhattan are laid out in a numbered grid pattern, it is almost impossible to get lost or stay lost for long. It was also not long before I managed (despite the outrageously expensive rentals) to secure a fabulous tiny place to call home in the swankiest borough of New York City - Manhattan.
Living practically within a 10- minute walk from the office, my life in New York had truly begun.
Working in the Park Avenue office, and not in the vicinity of Times Square, suits me just fine.
It means I do not have to brave the enormous crowds and traffic during lunch hour, peak hour, and every other hour for that matter.
The New York office of KPMG LLP is one of its biggest globally.
There is a great mix of people from different countries and cultures which has provided me with the opportunity to learn and experience cultural diversity, as well as understand how business is conducted in this part of the world.
Besides the opportunities and experiences gained from working on interesting and challenging projects, I am happy with the great emphasis placed on work-life balance in the New York office.
Skiing and ice-skating are part of the fun activities organised by the firm.
Last summer, I was able to leave the office in the middle of the afternoon to enjoy the frenzied summer and its myriad of activities on the streets, as the office shut (unofficially) at 3pm every Friday.
New York is constantly changing and I have a challenging time trying to keep up with the latest in fashion, music, festivals and night-life.
From cheering on the Yankees at the Yankee Stadium and attending a boxing match in Madison Square Garden to catching a local musical production and attending ballets at Lincoln Center, there are always plenty of things to do in this city.
Besides the many world-class museums and parks, eating in New York is an adventure in itself.
From pizza to truffle, draught beer to martini, the streets are filled with gourmet delis and restaurants, as well as fantastic bars.
It can be exhilarating yet overwhelming to live in a city with a 24-hour subway system and where everyone practically "runs on a cuppa" (of coffee), but I am enjoying every second of my time here.
With so many things to experience in each of the four seasons, I am often asked what I most like doing in the city.
For sure, one of my many favourite activities is exploring the city on foot (better known as shopping), which I would still religiously do even in the bone-chilling cold of winter.
I have also learnt that the most implicit rule of the New York sidewalk is to "keep moving".
People walk and move very quickly in this city. If you stop walking abruptly, you risk being hit on the back of your head by those walking too closely behind you.
New York has been, and continues to be, a great experience in every sense of the word.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has not only shaped my career, it has also provided me with a passport to expand my mental horizons, and experience a new way of life.
It will soon be time for me to say ciao bella to New York, but I hope to be back, for despite having been here for almost 10 months, I am still not quite done with this city.
This article was first published in The Business Times .