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Question to asian expats / foreigners

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Nikar
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Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby Nikar » Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:02 pm

Hi all,

First of all, I'm a local (Singaporean), not expat. At the place where I work, there's quite a diversity of people from various countries.

However, one thing I notice is that people from the same countries seem to always huddle in a group during lunch and not interacting with others including locals. So for e.g: you would have japanese always hanging out with japanese, burmese always hanging out with burmese, indians always with indians etc.

Now, I actually want to get to know all these people from various countries as they seem really interesting.
So far, my requests to ask them to join me and a couple of my local friends during lunch always tend to end up with them politely rejecting with a smile, saying they're not hungry etc, only for them to jump up later and go for lunch moments later whenever their fellow countrymen came to approach them.

Of course, being in the company for only 1 month or so, I understand it's way too early to get to know all these people, but then again, the locals who've been working in the same company for years don't mix with the foreigners in my company either. It's always locals vs foreigners cliques if you know what I mean.

I'll take it slow and gradually break the ice with these guys bit by bit, but how do you expats / foreigners (especially asian ones) here feel about Singaporeans coming up to you and being friendly etc? Would you guys be filled with suspicion or just feel irritated cos' you prefer to mix with your own people?

I understand most asians can't speak english comfortably and thus prefer to mix with people who can speak their own language, but well, since there's a diversity of cultures in my workplace, it's impossible for me to learn burmese, thai, japanese, korean, french, hindi etc :shock:

I always feel it's kind of a pity that all these people from such diverse backgrounds could not mingle together....I mean, it would make the whole environment so rich and full of cultural meaning.

I would like honest opinions on this. Tks! :)

*PS*: The only asian nationality so far that I've seen which mingle more with locals are the Filipinos. The rest, welll....As for westerners, I think it's 50-50 for them.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:14 pm

You might be surprised. In my case, I usually have lunch alone at my desk as I'm the only western/caucasian in the company (but the company is comprised of 40% foreigners). When lunch time comes, there is an Indian clique, a chinese clique and a Malay clique. Our Burmese tend to stick together as well. I'm sure I would be welcome in any of those cliques, but they would be uncomfortable as then they would have to use English, which while they can speak a reasonable levels of English, they are much more comfortable in a social setting using their own language. If they want me to join them for lunch, they ensure that they switch to English for my benefit. I'm not new at this company, I've been there for 10 years and I'm one of their managers (Hr & Finance). I have a good repore with all of them, but as I don't speak any other language except English, I try to not make them uncomforable. Work for me. (Oh, I'm married to a local for almost 32 years - but her English is as good as mine is (my had degenerated somewhat after living here for 33 years). :(

If you have only been in the company for one month, you need to give it time. Once they realize you are going to jump jobs after 3 months, maybe they will start warming up to you. As a newbie, they are not going to waste time trying to create any bonds at this early stage of you employment.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby The Ref » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:42 am

Interesting - I will give you my take which aligns to SMSs.
I am Australian and normally have lunch with 3 English, 1 Singapore Chinese (60%) and one Indian (60%) and this is mainly because of food choice. When I go to the pub after work this same group is one of the groups I go with, the other is predominantly English / Aussie.

Yet most of the people I talk through the day are locals - just we have different food and social setting tastes which align who you hang out with. I sometimes go for Kopi with my local friends but actually don't enjoy the Kopi, and they don't enjoy my coffee tastes.

Probably my best friend at work is a Singaporean who in the last 2 years I have gone to lunch with only around 20 times and never gone to the pub, second is a Malaysian Chinese who has lived in Aus for quite a few years - I tend to socialise with him the most.

I don't actually don't like hanging out with the Malays because they always want Halal food which I generally find too fatty/oily and generally don't enjoy. Same with Indian food which I actually really enjoy but don't eat because of my waist.

Bottom line - I think I have more local friends than foreigners but tend to hang out with the foreigners more due to a more aligned social styles.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby nakatago » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 6:23 am

Nikar wrote:Hi all,

First of all, I'm a local (Singaporean), not expat. At the place where I work, there's quite a diversity of people from various countries.

However, one thing I notice is that people from the same countries seem to always huddle in a group during lunch and not interacting with others including locals. So for e.g: you would have japanese always hanging out with japanese, burmese always hanging out with burmese, indians always with indians etc.

Now, I actually want to get to know all these people from various countries as they seem really interesting.
So far, my requests to ask them to join me and a couple of my local friends during lunch always tend to end up with them politely rejecting with a smile, saying they're not hungry etc, only for them to jump up later and go for lunch moments later whenever their fellow countrymen came to approach them.

Of course, being in the company for only 1 month or so, I understand it's way too early to get to know all these people, but then again, the locals who've been working in the same company for years don't mix with the foreigners in my company either. It's always locals vs foreigners cliques if you know what I mean.

I'll take it slow and gradually break the ice with these guys bit by bit, but how do you expats / foreigners (especially asian ones) here feel about Singaporeans coming up to you and being friendly etc? Would you guys be filled with suspicion or just feel irritated cos' you prefer to mix with your own people?

I understand most asians can't speak english comfortably and thus prefer to mix with people who can speak their own language, but well, since there's a diversity of cultures in my workplace, it's impossible for me to learn burmese, thai, japanese, korean, french, hindi etc :shock:

I always feel it's kind of a pity that all these people from such diverse backgrounds could not mingle together....I mean, it would make the whole environment so rich and full of cultural meaning.

I would like honest opinions on this. Tks! :)

*PS*: The only asian nationality so far that I've seen which mingle more with locals are the Filipinos. The rest, welll....As for westerners, I think it's 50-50 for them.


Short answer: people don't like going out of their comfort zones and extended mingling with other cultures is a protracted outside-of-someone's-comfort-zone exercise.

"Oh, I'm with this person who speaks a different language, eats different staple food, has different cultural norms than me. How can I interact with him so that I don't look like a fool to him and I don't offend him? Better play it safe and stick with safe topics...like the weather today. Oh wow, that is really boring and I'm saying it...this is getting uncomfortable with the awkward silence. Screw it; this takes up too much energy. I just won't do it next time."

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby maneo » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 9:08 am

Nikar wrote:... one thing I notice is that people from the same countries seem to always huddle in a group during lunch and not interacting with others including locals. So for e.g: you would have japanese always hanging out with japanese, burmese always hanging out with burmese, indians always with indians etc.

This is not unique to Singapore.
It happens whenever there are several people with common origins at a workplace.

Nikar wrote:...[b][u]how do you expats / foreigners (especially asian ones) here feel about Singaporeans coming up to you and being friendly etc?

I always appreciated it when asked to join a lunch group.
Since I was never a part of any regular lunch group I could almost always go with them.
I suppose it helped that I had eclectic tastes and I also like trying new dishes.
However, it is unrealistic for you to invite others that are already in another lunch group to join the lunch group you only recently became a part of.

Nikar wrote:Now, I actually want to get to know all these people from various countries as they seem really interesting.

Since you're not the first local in the company, there's really no compelling reason for others to engage in cultural interchange. They've all probably got that out of their system when they first arrived.

Nikar wrote:I always feel it's kind of a pity that all these people from such diverse backgrounds could not mingle together....I mean, it would make the whole environment so rich and full of cultural meaning.

Nakatago captured this succinctly:
nakatago wrote:Short answer: people don't like going out of their comfort zones and extended mingling with other cultures is a protracted outside-of-someone's-comfort-zone exercise.
quote wrote:"... this takes up too much energy."

Like you said, "being in the company for only 1 month or so, ... it's way too early to get to know all these people."
However, there may be a chance you could get invited to join one of their groups, as the "newbie" to the company if you happen to have something that's interesting to talk about.

Otherwise, you will need to "take it slow and gradually break the ice with these guys bit by bit."
As sundaymorningstaple pointed out, when they realise you won't be disappearing after just a few months, they might start warming up to you.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby Akimbo » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:04 am

Nikar wrote: how do you expats / foreigners (especially asian ones) here feel about Singaporeans coming up to you and being friendly etc? Would you guys be filled with suspicion or just feel irritated cos' you prefer to mix with your own people?.


For the record, I'm Indonesian, ethnicity? Malay.

Personally, I'm fine with somebody coming up to me and being friendly. (However I usually go to my 15 mins breakfast at the factory's canteen alone with my phone to read news on Flipboard app)

Lunches I either go to the canteen and hang with the Singaporean-Malay group (that is filled with old-timers and some other Singaporean-Chinese guys from other departments), or the Engineering department that is more nationally diverse although mostly Singaporean, whichever has the empty seat and full plates of lunches (it'd be sad if I arrive and then they leave 5 mins later)

I don't try to hang out with my Indonesian colleagues (they are few and far between). And yet, I also try not to hang with Indonesian people enclave whenever I travel around.

The culture in my workplace, is to have departments hanging out for lunches with the same people in their own departments, even though they have different nationalities as far as I can tell. Although I've seen the Filipino guys and gals hang for lunches at the canteen, and the German guys hang for cold breakfast in the morning.

Overall, I rarely spend time with any colleagues at work outside of the workplace. I tend to separate work life and social life.
My thread...The Weekenders If you need my e-mail address, it's in the first post of the thread.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby JR8 » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:21 am

Good posts above ^, I think all are well observed.

'Birds of a feather flock together'
http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Bir ... k+together

Such times are often 'bonding' sessions. Like the say Anglo-Saxon cohort who always seem to go to the pub after work on Friday, to 'chew the fat', i.e. bitch about work and their colleagues who are collectively considered 'out'(side the collective ways and/or interests of the group). It's just a bonding session, and an 'out'sider would never be invited. Neither would a newbie... er, unless she's got the best pair of legs and other assets in the department.

I applaud your wish to learn about and hence share their culture. Showing an interest is a great starting point. If you continue to do so you might well start to get included in due course. That is how say a local, an Indian, and a JPnese colleague might end up at the pub with the 'Anglos' on a Friday. By then they already have a grasp on the culture, they share interests and opinions with it too... they're 'just like us, but with a twist'.

Having a traditional Tamil 'plate meal' for lunch at your desk, whilst casually reading articles on the latest goings on with the Indian cricket team... could be interesting... :)
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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby the lynx » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:19 am

Am I the only one who doesn't want to hang out with Malaysians-only group?!

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby Primrose Hill » Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:55 am

birds of a feather do indeed flock together. Lunch time is more social compared to London. In London I always always eat at my desk, I may then sometimes take a walk but mostly not. Here lunch is social, tend to have lunch dates with colleagues.
I have no set friends that I go to lunch with I go to lunch with anyone or by myself, chinese, ang moh, indians anyone. However, I enjoy my own company too.

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby American » Mon, 13 Jul 2015 1:34 am

i have constant interaction with diverse work teams at my company. i make it a point to meet people outside of my normal social circle and comfort zone - it expands your outlook and horizons. at times it may come across as forced, and you have to be able to deal with others speaking in their language even when you are around. i don't expect people to adjust their communication to english just because i am around - i should be the one to learn what they are saying, in social situations.... perhaps being a non-caucasian american, constantly dealing with people that are different than me, has caused me to be open and sociable with other cultures. i have made many local friends (mostly chinese, indian, not too many malays here) through work. so as a local, making an effort and actually going out and talking to people with the sole interest of getting to know them (especially in a safe place like work) will only be fruitful in developing connections and relationships. the #1 thing that will take you far in work and in life is relationships so - go for it!

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby martincymru » Mon, 13 Jul 2015 2:07 pm

I like black humour. Blacker the better! Trying getting that across to the average Asian. (Btw: I am UK white male)

UK people like games/riddles mixed in with keeping you guessing (serious or not?) ..... great fun...

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Re: RE: Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby FOX711 » Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:46 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:You might be surprised. In my case, I usually have lunch alone at my desk as I'm the only western/caucasian in the company (but the company is comprised of 40% foreigners). When lunch time comes, there is an Indian clique, a chinese clique and a Malay clique. Our Burmese tend to stick together as well. I'm sure I would be welcome in any of those cliques, but they would be uncomfortable as then they would have to use English, which while they can speak a reasonable levels of English, they are much more comfortable in a social setting using their own language. If they want me to join them for lunch, they ensure that they switch to English for my benefit. I'm not new at this company, I've been there for 10 years and I'm one of their managers (Hr & Finance). I have a good repore with all of them, but as I don't speak any other language except English, I try to not make them uncomforable. Work for me. (Oh, I'm married to a local for almost 32 years - but her English is as good as mine is (my had degenerated somewhat after living here for 33 years). :(

If you have only been in the company for one month, you need to give it time. Once they realize you are going to jump jobs after 3 months, maybe they will start warming up to you. As a newbie, they are not going to waste time trying to create any bonds at this early stage of you employment.

OMG!

Where the hell do u work?
Let me buy u lunch one day!



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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby FOX711 » Tue, 14 Jul 2015 10:54 am

I think Singaporians r very friendly! when I have finished my interview in June, a taxi driver kept telling me information about renting, locations about food, and he wouldnt stop even when we arrived in the airport, and he wished me all the good luck.

20 mins later, I received the offer through email:)

So I definitely would like to go out for lunch with this kind taxi driver, to the local food court he has been talking about!

ONLY one thing makes me feel akward, is that some Singaporians think Singapore is THE best country of the world, and get upset if I dont agree. But I guess its the same from any nationality, some r kind, some r ignorant, some r both:)

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Re: Question to asian expats / foreigners

Postby livingontheedge » Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:09 pm

Well when money is on the table - whatever race or nationality - be it KTV, pubs, restaurants, horse racing, golf, etc. - we all come together.

The road to peace and global integration is spelled in $$$ or maybe RMB in 20 years


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