Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Series: Cultural ambassadors: SINGAPORE (Cross-Culture Email Connection)

Wow, our next cultural ambassador is from Singapore. We hardly get any news in Germany from this little country so I am super curious about getting a personal review about what living in Singapore means. And finally someone who doesn't eat the regular western breakfast of cereals or rolls...

Hi Everyone!

Singapore representative here! :)

A short description of your country and its position in the world,
including something you like about it and something you don't like

We are a tiny island in South East Asia, near the equator. We do not have the 4 seasons, the weather here is usually hot, wet, or hot, damp & wet. Yep, so I've always felt a mixture of envy and relief that we do not have snow, beautiful snow, and the scary devastating snowstorms and other natural disasters. Our greatest resource is our people! Or rather, the only resource... This is what I usually tell people when I have to introduce my country!

Like: We don't really have many homeless people sleeping on the streets... :)
I also like that English is the most common language here, I'm Chinese but I'm much more comfortable using English!

Dislike: Due to our lack of natural resources maybe, but since people are our only asset, the education system is crazily competitive! Luckily I managed to scrape by and still have a childhood. Kids nowadays are so overwhelmed with tuition, ballet, music, art and other random classes that I wonder if they really know what they are doing...

Now on to the Wiki facts:

Singapore is unique as it is the only country in Asia which has English as its first language. The population of Singapore is highly cosmopolitan and diverse. It includes many Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians, Caucasians and Asians of different origins.

Singapore has one of the highest percentage of foreigners in the world. 36% of the population in Singapore are foreigners and foreigners make up 50% of the service sector in Singapore.

Singapore is the 5th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita  and 23rd wealthiest in terms of GDP (nominal) per capita. The city state is also the second most crowded country in the world after Monaco.

A description of what you eat for breakfast
Weekdays: I take breakfast in the staff canteen in my office building. The foods available in the mornings are usually Malay/Chinese cuisine. Some of my favourite Malay foods are Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice) & Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles) as pictured.
Weekends: I like to laze in bed and eat random foods! I usually wake up late and have brunch instead.

A short description of a typical work day
My work day starts at about 8am after my breakfast with my colleagues. I work in an MNC as a business analyst of sorts. So I communicate frequently with my fellow colleagues in other worldwide subsidiaries. I try to reply to my emails as early in the day as possible, as some of the people I liaise with are in the USA, my morning is their evening, so there is only a short window of time where we are both available! The rest of the work day is filled with internal discussions, crunching numbers and churning out reports. Lunch is again at the staff canteen, but the variety of food is usually more exciting than at breakfast! Then a mad rush to reply to emails at the end of the work day, as I also liaise with people in Europe! My evening is their early morning, and again if I miss the opportunity to catch them I have to wait till the next day! The boredom of the work day is relieved with coffee breaks, toilet breaks, and random gossip with my colleagues. :)
Due to the fact that my office building is located in the Industrial sector, there is not much public transport available. Being a large company, my job perks include free company bus rides to and from work! There are various pick-up and drop-off points, I'm so lucky that one of them is near my house! So it's like primary school with the school bus. No need to squeeze in crowded trains/buses!

A description of your favorite day off (weekend or holiday)
I like staying home. Really! It amazes many people, including some of my close friends that I would rather sleep in and laze around with a good book rather than have a fun day out at Town! Most tourists who have been to Singapore would know about Orchard Road and its many shopping centres. I don't really like crowded places so I hardly ever drop by! I like to do my shopping at less crowded times. Besides, surfing swap-bot and packing swaps are fun activities for the weekend, right? :P

A list of languages (optional: dialects) that are spoken in your country
For the younger generation, English (or rather Singlish) is the most commonly used language.

For my grandparents' (and older) generation though, many of them speak only dialects or Malay. Singapore used to have many kampungs where the Chinese and Malays lived, worked and played together! Thus my granduncle could speak fluent Malay, but could never pronounce "McDonald's"! :P My ancestors from my mother's and father's side of the family came from roughly the same region in China, but the Hokkien they speak is different! My younger brother and I thus have a unique mish-mash Hokkien dialect which sounds pretty funny coupled with our slightly English accent.

Description of some national specialties/products

(Please note that due to our population mix and culture, we don't really have "Singapore" anything. But these have been modified to suit our tastebuds, similar foods in their country of origin might taste very different!)

Ya Kun Kaya Toast
I don't think it's all that great, but we have tourists buying bottled kaya and taking it back to their home countries!
Delicious over warmed toast and great coffee! Maybe it's the sit around, while away time allure of it all...

Bubble Tea
Besides Coca Cola, this is my other favourite drink in the whole world!
It's crazy expensive in non-Asian countries I think, so I'm glad it's super cheap here! an average cup costs less than a third of a cuppa from Starbucks, and it's tastes so heavenly! :):):) OK I'm excited just thinking about it right now. Definitely not for calorie counters, there is ZERO nutritional value in any of its ingredients. But oh so lovely. I've tried this is Taiwan where it originated, and Hong Kong where it's super popular too. They all taste different, yet they have their own merits. Anyway just try it if you ever get the chance to! I order you to! :P

A description of the role of men and women in your country
The guys like to complain that only they have to go for mandatory national service in the army for about 2.5 years! But they do get more pay as compensation for their delay in entering the workforce and for their contributions to national security. Until they can get guys pregnant, I believe national service is a small price to pay for being a "guy"!
As a girl I would say that gender equality is not perfect in Singapore, but it is much better in other countries. We don't get outright rejections for being female, but somehow when it comes to top management positions and politicians etc, females are still the very small minority. This could be partly due to the fact that many women still shun such positions as they believe (Asian values) that a woman's place is in the home. This is less evident in the younger generation, so maybe one day we can have a female Prime Minister or President!

A type of craft that is typical for your country (doesn't have to be typical ONLY for your country)

Here's something we make for the Lunar New Year festivities! Fish sounds like "abundance" in the Chinese language, so it's featured prominently in Chinese culture for prosperity!

I hope you've enjoyed reading this! :)

I really did and I hope you liked it as well. I had some questions left unanswered in the end, though. Did any of you taste bubble tea and ya kun kaya toast? What does it taste like? Anything you could compare it to? And I wondered about the lack of homeless people in the streets. Is it like in Germany, that they are driven from the city centres by the police to create a nicer "appearance", or is it that there is such a great state support system that there simply aren't any? Or is it any other reason?
I hope I'll one day be able to visit Singapore properly, like on a stopover to Australia or something like that.
If you liked this, also check out the other contributions:

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to contribute your own story (especially if your country isn't featured yet)

All umarked text in this post was supplied by a third party. The opinions expressed are not the same as those of the author of this blog. According to §§8 to 10 of the German Tele-Media Act, I am not obligated to monitor third party information provided or stored on my website. However, Ishall promptly remove any content upon becoming aware that it violates the law. My liability in such an instance shall commence at the time I become aware of the respective violation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The food looks delicious!