Singapore and English?!
Chinatown preparing for the Lunar New Year I’ll admit it, when my friend first suggested Singapore as a study abroad location I was like, “But I don’t speak Chinese.” And boy was I wrong. I knew absolutely nothing about Singapore; unfortunately like most Americans about any foreign country. Singapore is its own country, a city-state island, the only one in the world. You’ll be surprised that Singapore’s government actually recognizes 4 languages, English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil. See, I wasn’t really wrong about Singapore being a Chinese speaking country; but my implication was completely incorrect as I thought I couldn’t study there because of the language barrier. Although studying in a foreign country whose language you do not know can be a great issue, my real issue was working in the country as well. Upon graduating high school, I was luckily chosen to be part of a group of 20 students receiving a competitive full-tuition paid scholarship by a Fortune 500 company and the one requirement in particular to this study abroad story is that I must work part-time at the firm all year round (full-time during the summers). Therefore, how can I work at a foreign branch of a financial Fortune 500 company when I can’t speak the language?! My friend, much smarter than me, was quick to correct my ‘American’ assumptions and said they actually English there; obviously I was in a little bit of disbelief but started my research from there on out. At this point it is safe to say that I did not travel that much; I went to some places within the States but not really outside. In other words, my dream of seeing the world was only a dream; it’s becoming more of a reality with each passing day though.
Singapore is NYC
I like to think of Singapore as the SE Asia NYC. There are so many various cultures, religions, people, and languages everywhere that it felt like home in its own special way! I’m no stranger to variety and different faces since I grew up in NYC, but it was thrilling and exciting to see everyone together; it was like being in America. You wouldn’t expect this from a country in Asia; you can’t name another country with such variety like America does in Asia, not Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Hong Kong, China, or Burma/Myanmar just to name a few. Well at least I can’t think of one, but please let me know if you know of one so I can check it out in the future! It’s always nice to see people of different backgrounds go to school, go out/hang out, and even date one another. Singapore really is my NYC in Asia.
Chili Crabs, Buns and Fried Rice (think I got this on my last day in SG)
One great way to reflect the unity of the various people of Singapore is through their cuisine; you’ll notice some Chinese and Malaysian influences, maybe some Indonesian too! It’s absolutely fantastic; think the traditional Chinese foods but with a tremendous impact of spices and flavor! Not to say that Chinese food isn’t flavorful, it’s just good in it’s own way. Highly recommend eating the Singaporean cuisine, especially if you haven’t before! Now, Singapore doesn’t only have their own cuisine, or Chinese or Malaysian, Singapore has just about every other major cuisine there is. Singapore is the financial Asian hub in SE Asia and thereby tons of different people and cuisines. I in particular need my variety so this was perfect! I had American, Italian, Indian, Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, and Vietnamese cuisines during my stay there; I also gained about 15 pounds too… Anyways, other than Singapore having a great cuisine, and many others, you can find very cheap food and not have to cook one day in your life; I mean it. My flat didn’t even have a full kitchen, we had the space and designated area but we didn’t have a stove or oven! Food courts are very popular in Singapore, along with Malaysia and other SE Asian countries. At these food courts, prices are low and competitive. I remember getting an American feast with chicken, beef, sausage, eggs, and some veggies for only S$11 which is <$10; yes, I got it quite often, I think until one day it gave me the runs…
Anyone know this place? I bet you’ve seen pictures! This is mine, it’s crappy; plus it’s got the annoying date stamp, I got out of that phase I think unfortunately after my study abroad.
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