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Expats in Singapore: what foreigners are interested in the island city-state


Expats in Singapore: what foreigners are interested in the island city-state

Marigona Osman, @marigonak.o

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I am a 30 years old soul, also mother of two, and happily married. I was born and raised close to the coast in Gothenburg in Sweden, yet my heritage is Albanian from Macedonia. I moved to Zürich, Switzerland, ten years ago, which I now consider one of my home bases. I was working in the financial industry before we moved to Singapore.

For the past months, I have been staying home with our children. We have been living in Singapore since November 1, 2019. The main-reason for the move was because we wanted to jump off the “hamster wheel of life” and experience something new and another lifestyle. There is more to life than what we learn in one country, and, I believe, that it is our responsibility as parents to show that experiencing diversity, other cultures, and lifestyles is much more valuable and educational than the materialistic aspect that we are used to.

About first impression

After arriving to our apartment, my husband, our two kids, and I went out to the playground, and the first thing that struck me was “wow, people are so kind here”. Striking up a conversation with strangers became a habit, whether it was out in the park or in the grocery store.

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About difficulties

No particular ones that I could think of. The challenge was to get to know how things worked here like MRTs and left lane. On the other hand, this was my second move to another country, so, therefore I rather knew what to expect - remaining open-minded and just embrace the new and the differences that we would be facing.

About people

The people‘s behavior, one thing that we noticed is how much the people here value the children and the elderly. It is a heartwarming experience that I wish we could see in our countries.

About infrastructure

I noticed how clean the country is. This is something that they have in common with Switzerland. One thing I have realized is that there is definitely room for improving in recycling. Singapore seems to be going in the right direction, though, which is a good thing.

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What I like there

Can I mention tropical weather here? I love the fact that it is warm all the time. It is such a mood booster. I do not understand people who said it rains very often in Singapore. Just make it a habit to carry a small umbrella in your bag.
The nature here is breathtaking to me. You are certainly not surprised by cockatoos or monkeys when you are out for a walk in the nature here. I have always been a little nerdy when it comes to the animal life and nature, so, being surrounded by such beautiful greenery, it something I and my family love.

The great diversity is absolutely amazing. You can find and see everything here when it comes to food, style, and cultures. Bless the people for being so open to other cultures. It is beautiful to see and speak from my own experience. I, also, like to see how the different religions and cultures are equally respected.

Interesting story

Coming back to the act of kindness that you experience here a lot: I will never forget when my family and I had had dinner in the city and decided to take the MRT home. I wore a tight dress and my belly was so full from eating that I must have looked pregnant. There was this old man holding his walking cane, who looked at me, then my belly. He must have been over 65 years old and was ready to give up the seat for me even though I looked fit but was probably pregnant. I will not forget his generous gesture. Of course, I made sure he sat down again kindly explaining that I was fine for me standing up. I did leave out to say that I was not pregnant.

Daniel Niemiec, chiropractor, @drdanielniemiec

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I am from Adelaide, Australia. I have lived in Singapore for two years and two months. I moved to Singapore following a very difficult time in my life to start a new life.

About first impression

I absolutely loved Singapore. Singapore is so clean and safe. It is so efficient and easy to get around. The lifestyle is amazing and it is so easy to meet people and make new friends. I loved the food, especially the variety of different cuisines. I also loved the weather, as I love warm climates. Singapore is a very picturesque and beautiful country.

About difficulties

I did not really face any difficulties, other than adjusting to the increased working hours. They are much longer than in Australia, and you are expected to always be available, even when you are not working.

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About differences

The population density is much greater as well, so there are a lot more people out and about. The public transport system is amazing, and it is so efficient. It is also very easy and cheap to get taxis in Singapore compared to Australia. Singapore is also a lot wealthier and much cleaner than Australia. The food, climate and lifestyle are very different.

About similarities

I lived in Melbourne for many years, which is multi-cultural. Singapore is also multi-cultural, and there are many expats living in Singapore, especially in the area that I live in. Sometimes it does not even feel like I am living in Asia.
About people

Singaporeans are really lovely. They are very busy, and much stressed at times, but they are incredibly social. They are constantly dining out with family and friends, and they enjoying getting out and about. Singaporeans are very family orientated, and they often do things with or for their family, which I love. Singapore as a country is very wealthy, but I also find Singaporeans to be very humble and appreciative of what they have and where they have come from. They are very patriotic, and they have a high level of trust in their government. Singapore has very strict laws, so people do abide by them, and they have a lot of respect for their country and for one another.

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What I like there

I love the energy and the lifestyle. There are always people hanging out at all times of the day, and everyone is always socializing. Everything is so convenient. It is a very small country, so it is very easy to get around. I am always out socializing and I get invited to different events regularly. Even after two years, I still feel like I am holiday as I live in a condominium with a pool, and it feels like a resort at times.

I have met many people, including some very interesting people. I was invited to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix and official after party where I attended the race and partied with F1 drivers, royalty from other Asian countries, famous actors, socialites and many other VIP's in Singapore. I have done a lot of travel to other Asian countries, as well as attended many functions in Singapore. I even had someone offer to fly me to different locations around the world and pay for my accommodation. Singapore is an incredible place and I absolutely love living here.

Courtney Haley, medical laboratory technologist, @courtneyrobinart

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Originally, I am from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is a city in the middle of Canada. In Saskatoon, I worked as a medical laboratory technologist and specialized in transfusion medicine.

My husband and I moved to Singapore in the first quarter of 2018, so we have been here for just over two years. We moved here as my husband received a new job opportunity. I was very hesitant at first, I had never been to Asia and I really loved my life back home. After obtaining a leave of absence from my work, I figured we could at least give life there a shot.

About first impression

My first impression was that it was so hot and humid. I did not know I could sweat so much. My home province has very dry weather, and winters can get very cold with wind chills down to -40C, so trading that for +40 with the humidity index was a big shock to my system.
About difficulties

I started having a hard time after the first month we arrived. It was hard for me going from working a full time job with shift work and overtime to not working at all. I applied for so many healthcare jobs here but I did not hear anything back and that was a big blow to my ego. Eventually I started making a bigger effort to make friends here and meeting some really great people helped me get out of my slump. I have also had a lot of time to turn my passion for art into a new business venture.

About differences

Singapore definitely feels like a futuristic city. It is so clean and it feels so safe. Even though my home city is quite small, I would sometimes be fearful walking on my own. However, I have never felt that here in Singapore. One big difference in between here and my home city is the population density. We are definitely used to having our own space, big houses, big yards- but not here.

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About similarities

I would have to say our cultures are quite different, but that being said I had no culture shock when we arrived. I think because Singapore is so orderly and the fact that English is the main spoken language was a huge help.

About people

Singaporeans love to shop, eat out and stand in queues. I can definitely get on board with the first two but I do not like having to wait in lines.

What I like there

I know people think it is strict here, but as a fellow rule follower, I love it. I wish Canada were more strict on crime. I love all of the cafes and the endless food choices we have here. It is tiny but there is so much beauty that you can enjoy all year long. They also have a much lower income tax system here so that is nice too. I also have a lot more time here to do more things I enjoy, like volunteering at a local animal shelter.

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Interesting story

In the first few months when I was having a hard time adjusting to life there, I went outside on our balcony to have my coffee. It was raining so it was not too hot out like it usually is. I happened to look up from my phone and saw this large bird flying towards me. I thought maybe that it was an eagle. It was a hornbill and it landed directly in front of me on our balcony. I had never seen a bird like it. I was in awe. Had I not looked up from my phone I would have missed it. Also there was a rainbow in the background. It was like reassurance that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be.

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