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Discuss about life in Singapore. Ask about cost of living, housing, travel, etiquette & lifestyle. Share experience & advice with Singaporeans & expat staying in Singapore.
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JimH5
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Post by JimH5 » Sun, 05 Oct 2008 10:59 pm

I can't say that I've ever had even one experience when a local has been rude to me. But I also try to go out of my way to be respectful, courteous and friendly to them.

And it just may be that I'm too ignorant to know when someone is giving me a hard time. . . :o

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Post by Seasoul » Mon, 06 Oct 2008 9:27 pm

Hi imanabisaab,
The best way to get acclimated is to make friends and reach for the locals.
I come from Morocco and France, and yes, the not holding the door thing, not saying hi or bye in the elevator, not even looking at you when you're right there standing + the double standards for locals and for foreigners still makes my eyebrow rise even if I've been here for 8 months now.

But do not let that keep you from seeing the friendly, opened and welcoming side of Singaporeans. I've met the most friendly, respectful and nice people here. It sometimes just takes time for both parts to adjust to each other, the first impression can be a bit unexpected, but as soon as you'll make friends out of colleagues, neighbors, team mates, etc.. you'll see things differently :)

Take care,

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Post by cirkus » Thu, 09 Oct 2008 9:27 am

yes, people are generally very nice here. BUT forget making friends with the locals. Unless they have lived abroad for many years themselves, they will not be very accommodating towards foreigners.

We have our 4 kids in a local school. All the friends they made there are foreigners themselves (Vietnam, Thailand). Stick to the expatiates, there are sooo many nice foreigners around with loads of interesting experiences and colorful histories.

AND: remind yourself how it is like for foreigners in your home country... You just now experience what they do back there and you never bothered... ;)

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Post by Addadude » Thu, 09 Oct 2008 6:28 pm

This is weird. Going by some of the comments on this particular thread, I wonder if we are all living in the same country! In 15 years of living in Singapore I have encountered virtually no unpleasant situations and certainly nothing like some of the experiences outlined by a few of the posters here.

In my experience I have found Singaporeans to be warm, welcoming and friendly. Two of my closest friends ever are Singaporeans.

Yes, I do encounter the odd bewildered stare in my housing estate but I usually just reply in kind and they stop. That's pretty much it as far as anything regarding hostility goes. Oh, yeah, there was one incident a couple of months ago with a drunken a$$hole but that situation was very swiftly rectified - and not in his favour. So one hostile incident in 15 years? That's pretty good I think. My hometown of Dublin is a far more hostile place by comparison!

And yes, there are indeed certain 'social graces' that are lacking here but these are more of annoyance than anything else and you swiftly grow accustomed to them.

What I have noticed over the last 2 or 3 years is that Singaporeans appear to me to be getting riled a lot more easily than before. Many of them feel that they are been marginalised by their own government in favour of rapidly growing foreign 'talent' population and so they are reacting in a negative and sometimes hostile fashion. From my observation, this hostility has been directed more towards PRCs than western foreigners.

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Post by alanwisley » Thu, 09 Oct 2008 11:27 pm

Hi everyone,

After reading the threads. I fully understood how the feeling of a foreigner in a foreign land as i myself have been overseas for some years. As a local Singaporean, what i can comment on is Singaporean does have its own culture which i believed every country have likewise the same.

On the whole, Singaporeans are not as bad as some of you guys might think of if you have encountered a lousy experience. It is just one in a thousand chance.

I hope that any one who have a bad encounter forgive and forget the matter. Once u gel into the local society, you will see the difference when you start to understand the culture and behaviour of the locals in Singapore.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 10 Oct 2008 12:53 am

alanwisley wrote:Hi everyone,

After reading the threads. I fully understood how the feeling of a foreigner in a foreign land as i myself have been overseas for some years. As a local Singaporean, what i can comment on is Singaporean does have its own culture which i believed every country have likewise the same.

On the whole, Singaporeans are not as bad as some of you guys might think of if you have encountered a lousy experience. It is just one in a thousand chance.

I hope that any one who have a bad encounter forgive and forget the matter. Once u gel into the local society, you will see the difference when you start to understand the culture and behaviour of the locals in Singapore.
How far into the local society must I get? I'm as deeply entrenched as possible without actually taking up citizenship. I'm a card carrying member of our zones grassroots residents committee. (HDB Estate) And I will still have to agree on the aloofness of the local. The foreigner has to meet them 90% of the way, and only then, grudgingly over a long, long period of time will you be let in a little bit.
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Negative impression on locals

Post by taxico » Fri, 10 Oct 2008 9:18 am

imanabisaab wrote:but unfortunatelly, and as a 1st impression, people do not seem very welcoming. They are very polite but also very reserved, not so friendly and helpful unless we direclty ask for help. very small examples like not giving a seat for a woman with 2small children in mrt or cars not reducing the speed for pedestrian and not holding the door for a lady with a baby trolley..aggravate this negative feeling
this is normal. i find it helps if you smiled at singaporeans; that breaks ice. (not in a cheeky manner either, and not in inappropriate circumstance!)

if i feel that someone should give up a seat for another party, i normally approach the healthy person (not always singaporean) and ask them to do so - it's usually worked, but tougher during rush hour.

don't expect a "thank you" for holding the door/lift open either; just be glad when you do it for your family/friends, other singaporeans don't "slip by" without uttering a word.

but i do it all the same, and i smile, and the response i get is somewhat more beearable.

singaporeans also don't apologize if they brush against you too hard or step on you or knock against you with their giant umbrellas that they're swingly around with abandon.

the above is all entirely normal and the sooner you get used to it, the better. you can also teach your kids that such behaviors are unacceptable!

i wouldn't expect out of towners in manhattan to be charmed by the new yorkers, but not all locals are jerks, if you know what i mean.

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Post by wing_wing » Wed, 15 Oct 2008 1:57 pm

Frankly, i was shocked when i first came to this city (a year ago). :???: the way or the style that local people acts....

...they will put a pack of tissue paper on a foodcourt table and look like this table is purchased. or when i need help in locating a particular block within a HDB area, ppl will always point me to a direction with confidence and turns out it is in the opposite way -_-!

it is even worse when it comes to business, i was really disappointed after trying 5 property agents. they requested me to go to the flat by my own with 2 hours advance notice...fine...turns out he is late for more than 30 minutes without saying sorry. some just not replying me back even though they promised to do so...some posted rude questions like the 'race' before i could know more about the property.

however, i was almost adapted to it, and i have some good singaporean friends here... some are real friendly if they get to know them.

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Post by sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 16 Oct 2008 12:26 am

wing_wing wrote:Frankly, i was shocked when i first came to this city (a year ago). :???: the way or the style that local people acts....

...they will put a pack of tissue paper on a foodcourt table and look like this table is purchased. or when i need help in locating a particular block within a HDB area, ppl will always point me to a direction with confidence and turns out it is in the opposite way -_-!

it is even worse when it comes to business, i was really disappointed after trying 5 property agents. they requested me to go to the flat by my own with 2 hours advance notice...fine...turns out he is late for more than 30 minutes without saying sorry. some just not replying me back even though they promised to do so...some posted rude questions like the 'race' before i could know more about the property.

however, i was almost adapted to it, and i have some good singaporean friends here... some are real friendly if they get to know them.
Sounds like a Singaporean to me just trying to get a wind-up. Nobody BUT a local would write with grammar that atrocious! (Or possibly their Northern Cousins across the causeway - all one and the same).
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

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Re: Negative impression on locals

Post by QRM » Thu, 16 Oct 2008 2:51 pm

taxico wrote:
don't expect a "thank you" for holding the door/lift open either; just be glad when you do it for your family/friends, other Singaporeans don't "slip by" without uttering a word.
Like you say you get used to it, but recently at wisma Atria, while holding a baby, big pram and shopping I was struggling with the glass door.

I finally managed to get it open when two teenagers in school uniforms just barged past me, that was the straw that broke the camels back, I leaned out grabbed the back of his collar and yanked him off his feet back through the door and told him I didn't open the door for him. He was totally shell shocked and to this day probably didnt know what he did wrong.

Manners, I remember my first 10 minutes at boarding school, I sat down in front of the headmaster, he lifted me off the chair by my ear and said I should offer the chair to my mother first.

While there are certain cultural differences, ie looking into eyes or not, pointing with fingers etc. but just plain helping someone should be human nature. No wonder they need all these fines here otherwise the locals will run riot.

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Post by citygirl » Fri, 17 Oct 2008 1:13 am

Being a New Yorker, I have no problem elbowing back at double the force. At least I can be myself here. :wink:

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Post by kristyna » Fri, 17 Oct 2008 10:46 am

I moved in a month ago being already warned about the lack of manners etc. But it is far worse than I expected. :(
Also the way they treat people based on skin colour - e.g. in the shops and restaurants - very calm and arrogant dealing with my husband who is mixed Indian/Arabic and almost crawling talking to me as a white European (oh, yeah, they love 'Londoners' and 'New Yorkers' as if sun was shining out of their... ) :lol:
And the curiosity turned into a shock when they find out that the kids in the twin buggy I am pushing are coloured!!! :evil:
Did anyone experience this sort of - maybe too strong word to use - RACISM?
:twisted:

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Post by QRM » Fri, 17 Oct 2008 11:48 am

Its more of a colonial throwback.

Having been brought up in Hong Kong, I remember the biggest culture shock when I went to the UK as a kid, was seeing white folks digging the road and driving a bus.

I thought that's what most westerners like it here in Asia, even trailer trash get treated like royalty, especially by the SPGs

How do you fine people for bad manners? and lets not blame just the locals westerners are sometimes just as ignorant to local customs and manners here are some examples

Giving white flowers, wearing gold at royal functions, black at weddings, not looking at name cards, paying with one hand, pointing using your fingers, exposing the soles of your feet, no concept of face etc. in fact there should be a separate thread on what locals find very rude about expats.

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taxico
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Post by taxico » Fri, 17 Oct 2008 6:45 pm

kristyna wrote:Did anyone experience this sort of - maybe too strong word to use - RACISM?
i totally know what you're talking about.

might be racism, but i'll put it down to white men complaining more effectively than brown and black and yellow men can (if service sucks).

the other thing i'll put it down to is just the remnants of colonial white-rules-all mentality... (lesser extent)

the final thing is, the fact that singaporeans are horrible people do not only apply to foreigners, but also on wait staff, who feel the latter are more gracious/nicer and may want to accord them the same respect.

nevertheless, i find as long as the black/brown/yellow/non-white person speaks properly and carries himself properly, the service gets better & better.

just be friendly, regardless of how you may feel initially; it usually (really) works.

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Post by QRM » Fri, 17 Oct 2008 8:44 pm

taxico wrote: nevertheless, i find as long as the black/brown/yellow/non-white person speaks properly and carries himself properly, the service gets better & better.
So its elitism then, when you say speaks "properly" do you mean Queens English rather than Singlish, and that only comes about if a huge sum of money has been spent on overseas education?

If you are black/brown/yellow/non-white person who cant speak properly you are in trouble?

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