AmiexExchange 02: What others think of Singapore/Singaporeans

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I should get down to log-in with my exchange details, travelogues, thoughts and whatnots. It's getting embarassingly empty here except for the extremely backdated food reviews from the island where I live, Singapore. It's a lazy Sunday here in Melbourne, I made a little note to run to Queen Victoria Market to catch the tail of the marketing activities at around half past three - that's when I'll get the best deals. They close at four on Sundays. So I'll blog a bit before I head out into the merciless sun.
A little update on where I've been (I'll try to get through the details slowly bit-by-by): I've been in Perth since the sixth of February, and then flew into Melbourne with two friends on the twelve. I've been here ever since and am so in love with the city, I'd never want to leave. At least until the novelty wears off, that is. I'm inspired to do this post to kick-start the series of my exchange travelogue because I get an honest run-down on what other people think of Singapore/Singaporeans quite a lot. It's very interesting and entertaining to hear their perspectives as a native, because you'll never ever see yourself in that angle as they do. I guess being an arts student has increased my tolerance for potentially offensive remarks, but these are honest comments from friends or strangers that provoke a lot of discussion and thinking.

1. Singapore and Malaysia.. as one?
Move aside, the ignorant statement about Singapore as part of China. Now people know that we're somewhere in Southeast Asia, but we are almost synonymous with our neighbour, Malaysia. When they talk about Singaporeans, they consider our culture very similar to Malaysians. When it comes to food, attitudes, personalities, accents, types of facial features... we're practically the same. I can hear you guys screaming No, what?! We're different! But really, that's just how the world sees us now.

2. What languages do you speak?
Then I get this a lot: people enjoy testing my standard of Mandarin Chinese, or they simply assume I can't speak a drip of it at all. Or they'd gingerly asked if I can speak Chinese after knowing that I come from Singapore. I guess my country has a lot of nuances for the outsider to learn. We speak the English language and our mother tongue, and we also speak a smattering of dialects and other mother tongue languages from other ethnicities. It depends. And sometimes, we jumble them up into a kaleidoscope of the aforementioned languages to create Singlish.

3. You guys think about money and work all day long.
Oh, my god. This is the primary impression of Singaporeans, and this is a consensus spread across different people I've met. A few comments I've heard include: 

(A) Money is highly important to Singaporeans.
(B) You guys talk about work all day long, even during lunch breaks. 
Insinuated meanings that I interpreted it as: Singaporeans have no depth, no life experiences and are bad conversationalists. I don't think this applies to all Singaporeans, nor is it an exclusive trait, but it shouldn't be the way we present ourselves to the world.
(C) Singaporeans have no life - you guys work too damn hard.
(D) Singaporeans are competitive.
Insinuated meanings that I interpreted it as: Mean and unscrupulous.

To that, I can only nod miserably in agreement and wished it was otherwise. After I've been exposed to different cultures, Singapore remains the most stressful country when it comes to making ends meet and achieving work-life balance. In fact, there's no work-life balance to speak of except for arduously-imposed activities by the government. There's very little room for spontaneous relaxing activity. I think that's what we should really work towards - to remember that work should not be the end-product and bulk of what our life should be. I will update more often now that my Internet is up and stable.

Other than these semi-negative comments, Singapore also get a small handful of positives like being efficient and clean. And of course, food remains the number one rave for our little island.

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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @spherepiece and Facebook page!

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