Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Singapore:
Singapore is great. I’ve gotten so much more than I bargained for. I would say it’s a far better place to live in than to visit. Expats are very sad when they leave.
If I could change anything, I probably would have reached out and made more Singaporean and expat friends earlier on. I’m quite an introvert and prefer a very small circle of friends, but I think getting to know more people of different backgrounds would have made my stay better.
The first few months when I didn’t know anyone, where anything was, and our shipment was somewhere in the world that wasn’t Singapore, were absolutely the hardest. Something that should have been simple, like doing a load of laundry, was so hard.
Singapore is like an onion. It has many hidden layers and you need peel these layers one after the other to be able to get more and more of it. While on outside Singapore feels like hi-tech city of commercial towers, in the inside layers you will see lot of small cultural towns hidden within, like Little India, China Town, Geylang and so on. So my tip would be to beyond the expat areas and explore the small cultural areas.
I think one can get spoiled in Singapore, in terms, of the order, cleanliness and system that they have in-place all over the country. We come from a developing country like the Philippines, where these things are major challenges. It’s a good change.
The decision to move happened suddenly. My spouse and I took the "let's throw our stuff in a bag and go" approach, so I would say no I definitely was not prepared. I'm not sure any other approach would work though. You can read all you like about an experience but you won't really understand it until you go through it yourself.
I was prepared to some extent, I did read up on the cost of living and someone gave me a booklet to read and websites to visit but I was very cautious about it and didn't know how long I would actually stay so I didn't make any long term plans or sign any long term contracts which I think gave me more flexibility to explore my options. I stayed because it was the right choice for me and not because I was bound by anything.
Out of all the places I’ve lived, Singapore is the most like the United States. It’s a high tech place where apps exist for almost everything. I can locate many of my favorite products from back home (at a price) in the local grocer. Rather than fumble in an unfamiliar tongue. English is the official language. For all these reasons, I found settling in to be a breeze. I didn’t really experience culture shock with this assignment, but then again it is my third so I am a little desensitized.
The transition also became easy because Singapore's system of government is very organized, efficient and fairly accommodating to foreign workers. The people are noticeably law abiders and generally friendly. Everything appears very much in order. Although, initially, understanding Singlish (Singapore English) was a challenge but then we get familiar with the language as days go by.
Life here is definitely more convenient and safer than back home. Women get a lot of respect here and I feel very comfortable even if I am walking alone at 02 am in the night. I didn’t really face any culture shock as Singapore has so many cultures living in perfect harmony.
Compared to life in France, I would say it is different here in Singapore but not hugely. I still meet friends, go out for dinner and drinks and so forth. I miss the gorgeous blue seas and skies from Nice but Singapore makes up for it in many ways. I didn't have too much culture shock (maybe I am used to moving – this is country number 6) and just found Singapore fascinating.
I actually don’t think I did much preparation at all before I moved which given I’d never lived abroad or even considered doing it seems a little crazy now. Though I’ve never felt I wasn’t prepared for the move. All I really did before I came was make arrangements for all our furniture etc to be shipped, packed and read a little bit about Singapore in general. I think I had the approach that I’d find out as I went along and perhaps that was better for me than getting weighed down by worry.
My nickname here never fails to make people smile. ‘Changmoh’ which is the name of my blog is short for Chinese Angmoh (local speak for Chinese Caucasian) a word that was coined for me by market traders who claimed I was English on the outside and Chinese on the inside.
Although I like to explore and learn about local cultures, expats do tend to be attracted to each other like magnets. It’s probably the ease of conversation, the silently understood nuances, and even the way you bring up your child. Expats also know that new expats need a helping hand. We were all lost once.
I don’t think I suffered from culture shock as such. Singapore is described as Asia 101 or Asia for dummies and life here is easy. It is a very modern, westernized city and there isn’t a language barrier. Supermarkets stock many of the brands you get at home and you can drink the tap water.