Singapore Is My Home
Like many Singaporeans, I love complaining about Singapore—it’s too hot, there’s nothing to do, and the MRT is always breaking down. Everything’s too expensive, the strawberry generation is useless and it’s all the gahmen’s fault. Then I went on exchange for six months.
While travelling Europe and having Paris as my base was a wonderful experience, it also made me acutely aware of how Singaporean I was.
To celebrate Singapore’s 52nd birthday, I decided to count my blessings and explain why leaving Singapore made me realise I’d always want to come home.
1. Bless fast internet
Did you know that Singapore has one of the fastest internet speeds in the world? We’re second only to Norway.
I’ve now learnt to be more patient when my dank memes fail to load when passing through the 3G blind spot between the Paya Lebar and Aljunied MRT stations.
2. Bless Singlish
Every time I hear a Singlish accent in a hostel, I whip my head around to find the speaker.
I know it’s ridiculous, but faking an American accent because Europeans can’t understand my Singlish tongue gets old real fast.
To have someone to speak with ‘normally’, is like entering an air-conditioned building on a hot day.
Unlike what the Good Speak English campaign would have us believe, I don’t think Singlish is a problem as most Singaporeans code switch effectively.
To simply label Singlish as ‘improper English’ or not a language is incorrect, and to deny Singlish is to deny our histories and identities as a former British colony and a multicultural Asian people.
3. Bless our safety
On my 21st birthday, I drank too much at Zouk. At 3.00am, I cabbed home without telling my friends and passed out at the foot of my HDB block. No one tried to rape, murder or rob me—someone called the police and an ambulance for me instead.
On hindsight, it was extremely foolish and I’ve since learnt to be less stupid, but dang, is Singapore safe or what?
In Cappadocia, I’d never go out after sundown unaccompanied. The leers and wolf whistles men gave me in the day made me uncomfortable enough to want to stay indoors at night.
4. Bless our racial tolerance
More than a few times, I’ve dated or got into a serious relationship with a non-Chinese.
Besides the “Is it true once you go black you never go back?” joke, I’ve only received encouraging and supportive comments.
Though our ‘racial harmony’ is far from perfect, I’m thankful to be able to take diversity for granted and coexist peacefully with different cultures.
5. Bless good customer service
While it’s true Singapore’s service standards are not as impeccable as Japan’s, most Singaporeans who work in the service industry are nice and friendly.
They’d smile and make sure you get what you need easily, and would try their best to accede to your requests.
Applying for a bank account in Paris was an extremely frustrating experience. Don’t “Oh la la, je sais pas” me, I know you don’t want to do it because your lunch break is in 15 minutes.
Fun fact: Having worked as a waitress on and off for five years, I can confirm when you receive bad customer service, it’s because you’re probably being an a**hole.
6. Bless our severely subsidised world-class education
Why do you think most Singaporean students pwn their European counterparts when they go on exchange?
Besides providing world-class education, the rigorous education system demands and teaches us to work hard and smart.
Also, the monthly school fees for Singaporeans is cheap. Going to primary school is free, monthly rates for secondary school and pre-University education costs $5 and $6 respectively. The tuition fees of our local Universities are relatively affordable too.
7. Bless our stable political climate
Unless someone invades us, we probably don’t have to deal with war and it’s highly unlikely the government will use gun violence on civilians.
You don’t know fear until you’ve been caught in a coup in Istanbul and can hear the gunshots just 100m away from your hostel.
8. Bless our unchanging weather
If you look at Singapore’s annual temperature graph, you’d see a straight line. This is great because you never have to consider ‘dressing for the weather’. Just pop an umbrella in your bag and you’re good to go.
Being inexperienced with weather conditions other than ‘sunny’ or ‘rainy’, I had no idea how to dress in Amsterdam. I thought “How bad can some wind get”, and left without my coat.
Alternating between warmed by the sun and frozen by icy gusts caused me to fall ill the next day.
9. Bless Changi Airport
Airports hold a special place in my heart, but Changi Airport is in a league of its own.
It has a beautiful design, free wi-fi, water coolers and toilets I would poop in. Flights are rarely late, check-in is a breeze, and finding your flight is a stress-free affair.
I love Rome but I really hate the Ciampino Airport. My flight was delayed more than 6 hours and no one told us why.
There was poor organisation and everyone was yelling in frustration. Worst of all, it was summer and the air-con wasn’t working.
10. Bless Singapore’s food scene
Living abroad, I didn’t just miss my family, I missed the food.
In Singapore, it’s virtually impossible to be more than a five-minute walk from somewhere to eat. Our hawker centres provide us with an amazing variety of local eats which are cheap and delicious.
I can get any kind of cuisine I want, from Japanese to Italian, and there’s a restaurant for every budget. Even at 4 am, there’s always some place good to eat.
One Sunday in Paris, I didn’t realise they closed the supermarket early. All the shops were closed, and the nearest food place was almost half a city away. I ended up eating plain, boiled pasta for dinner.
11. Bless chicken rice
Having a wide variety of food results in the paradox of choice—there’s so much food that you can’t decide what to have.
Don’t know what to eat? Chicken rice sua. Ubiquitous and cheap, quick and easy, the $2.50 chicken rice is arguably the default meal of Singaporeans.
In Paris, there’s no such thing as cheap fast food. Crepes and kebabs, the cheapest type of ‘proper food’, are at least 5 euros. I relied mainly on 1 euro baguettes and 2 euro cheese to survive.
Staying In Singapore
They say home is where the heart is, and my heart is in Singapore. I love travelling and will definitely travel extensively when I get the chance, but I know I’d always return home.
Cover image: Source