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Adapting to the local culture...

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russlan
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Adapting to the local culture...

Postby russlan » Thu, 02 Jan 2014 7:23 pm

Hey there. I've been to Singapore for almost six months now, and I like it so far, I enjoy my job and the city itself. However, I am struggling to adapt and understand the local culture.

The first thing my colleagues asked me was what are the best brands and good places for shopping in my home country. They seem entirely preoccupied with shopping, food and TV. We can hardly find anything to talk about except shopping, and it seems like they spend most of their weekends stuck in malls. I did some research on that ruthless consumerism and I still fail to understand why they don't think it is degrading and humiliating to live their whole life for shopping, talking about brands and stuff like that.

By now I am feeling completely alone and a total weirdo because I don't waste my time on shopping and food - I would rather write a useful blog post, read a business book, think about business ideas or new opportunities, or simply ride a bike in Ubin. I am so desperate it seems every single person around has absolutely no soul or passion for anything except consuming food and clothes.

Can anyone, please, share your ideas about:
1) What is the way of thinking that forces people to only care about shopping and food? What are their thoughts? What is their life like? I just fail to imagine it.
2) Is there any way to connect with the other kind of people? Any forums/meetups etc.?

Please do not take these questions as an offence. I am genuinely not acquainted with the shopping-oriented lifestyle and way of thinking and I want to understand (if not accept) it.

Thanks.

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Re: Adapting to the local culture...

Postby nakatago » Thu, 02 Jan 2014 7:45 pm

russlan wrote:Can anyone, please, share your ideas about:
1) What is the way of thinking that forces people to only care about shopping and food? What are their thoughts? What is their life like? I just fail to imagine it.
2) Is there any way to connect with the other kind of people? Any forums/meetups etc.?


1. this part of the world is known for being "socially-conscious." Brand names = status because you need money to buy branded goods. Food is a "more normal" favored activity because who doesn't like good food? The flipside, however, is that it can also be equated to wealth (and status) because being able to travel for good food or being able to eat out means you have the means to do so (being worldly is also equated with status). Note that even though people like food, not too many like being able to cook it. Brand names = status symbol. Restaurants = status symbol. Being well-traveled to eat = status symbol. You get the idea.

2. a lot of Singaporeans (and by extension, Southeast Asians) have gone beyond the ugly side of 1 above. You just have to find these people through the right activities. Meetup.com seems to be popular so you can try that. You can also engage in your favorite activities and you can most likely find locals who are into the same things. Just google for such activities.

And of course, there are a number of meetups arranged through this forum. Go to a few arranged by the semi-regulars (e.g. Akimbo, FNDC, WNDC); you may not find the immediate company the group you're looking for but you may meet people who are in the same boat as you and it could lead you to what you're looking for.

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Postby Beeroclock » Thu, 02 Jan 2014 8:52 pm

Interesting reflection, IMO its a combination of the materialistic/aspirational mentality imported from the West amplified by the local kiasu mentality, and then further compounded by the weather, which has somehow come to this! I see some early seeds of such questions about happiness, purpose/meaning etc but cultural change tends to take a long time.

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Postby BedokAmerican » Thu, 02 Jan 2014 9:54 pm

You make some interesting and factual observations. Yes, people here must watch quite a bit of TV and go to the movies. I've had people ask me if I'm American because they recognize the accent from TV and movies.

Speaking of shopping, it seems most of the non-food stuff worldwide is made in China (but sometimes India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, etc), even the pricey stuff. My husband commented recently that most of the stuff we had shipped here from the US was made in this part of the world.

I've noticed that the clothing stores here, even those with home offices outside of Asia, sell mostly stuff made in China. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, it just means that stuff in the "West" and stuff here isn't all that much different except for the price. In my opinion, shopping is shopping, regardless of the country you're in. There are some differences, such as parking lots/car parks, use of coupons, promotions/sales, and waiting in lines/queues, but the merchandise isn't that much different.

Anyway, I probably wasn't much help. I just wanted to chime in when I saw the post. I'm sick of malls.

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Postby Hannieroo » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 12:10 am

Second meetup, there's loads on there.

I like shopping but I find a couple of hours every month does me. A whole day every weekend would make me cry.

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Postby earthfriendly » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 3:17 am

Community Centers offer many types of classes ..... from sports to cooking to organized tours.

I gravitate towards food and its prepartion. Loads of happy memories that surround these food gatherings. Growing up, relatives would visit us and celebrate by feastings.... almost monthly, from death anniversaries and birthdays of dead grandparents and New Years.

Used to enjoy eating food but not as much anymore but still like experimenting with new ingredients and equipment. My recent activities include the purchase of a ninja cooking system to see how much convenience I can get out of it, made 4 lb of beef jerky in the oven, seasoning my molcajete with uncooked rice, making Alboniga soup. Also tried growing my own food but realized I am not much of a farmer.

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Re: Adapting to the local culture...

Postby Wd40 » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 7:43 am

russlan wrote:Hey there. I've been to Singapore for almost six months now, and I like it so far, I enjoy my job and the city itself. However, I am struggling to adapt and understand the local culture.

The first thing my colleagues asked me was what are the best brands and good places for shopping in my home country. They seem entirely preoccupied with shopping, food and TV. We can hardly find anything to talk about except shopping, and it seems like they spend most of their weekends stuck in malls. I did some research on that ruthless consumerism and I still fail to understand why they don't think it is degrading and humiliating to live their whole life for shopping, talking about brands and stuff like that.

By now I am feeling completely alone and a total weirdo because I don't waste my time on shopping and food - I would rather write a useful blog post, read a business book, think about business ideas or new opportunities, or simply ride a bike in Ubin. I am so desperate it seems every single person around has absolutely no soul or passion for anything except consuming food and clothes.

Can anyone, please, share your ideas about:
1) What is the way of thinking that forces people to only care about shopping and food? What are their thoughts? What is their life like? I just fail to imagine it.
2) Is there any way to connect with the other kind of people? Any forums/meetups etc.?

Please do not take these questions as an offence. I am genuinely not acquainted with the shopping-oriented lifestyle and way of thinking and I want to understand (if not accept) it.

Thanks.


Regarding food, its so cheap to eat outside, so they dont prepare their own food and they visit food courts and hawker centers to have all their meals. Which means its a social thing and they do it with their friends and families and they meet a lot of people, so obviously food becomes a topic of conversation. I personally dont see anything so exciting about the food here. Basically they eat the same stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then go "Wah! Singapore has such awesome food" :lol: I cant imagine having rice or noodles for breakfast, crazy!

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Re: Adapting to the local culture...

Postby zzm9980 » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 7:51 am

Wd40 wrote: I personally dont see anything so exciting about the food here. Basically they eat the same stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then go "Wah! Singapore has such awesome food" :lol: I cant imagine having rice or noodles for breakfast, crazy!


SO funny, because I have the same experience in India! "Wah, more bread-type fluffy(sometimes crunchy) stuff with curries/spicy liquids to dip it in!" The ones in the evening are thicker, that's about it. I see more variety in Singapore, but I do understand where you're coming from as it's still less variety than I'm used to (at least in regards to hawker center breakfast).

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Re: Adapting to the local culture...

Postby Wd40 » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 7:57 am

zzm9980 wrote:
Wd40 wrote: I personally dont see anything so exciting about the food here. Basically they eat the same stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then go "Wah! Singapore has such awesome food" :lol: I cant imagine having rice or noodles for breakfast, crazy!


SO funny, because I have the same experience in India! "Wah, more bread-type fluffy(sometimes crunchy) stuff with curries/spicy liquids to dip it in!" The ones in the evening are thicker, that's about it. I see more variety in Singapore, but I do understand where you're coming from as it's still less variety than I'm used to (at least in regards to hawker center breakfast).


:) Thats because Indians dont eat out a lot and even when we eat out, breakfast we almost never eat out, unless we are tourists or something. But at home, our breakfast is completely different from lunches and dinners. Especially south Indians have dosas and other varieties of rice based stuff(but not rice itself) for breakfast. North Indians, I agree, almost always have some for of roti/naan for breakfast/lunch and dinner. That also drives me crazy!

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 9:24 am

I quite like the hawker food, only problem the lack of veg so need to grab a subway every know and then to get a dose of vitamins. One thing I find baffling is the cult status of certain stalls and the queues. Most places queues will self regulate, ie. once it forms other customers shy away and it naturally quells. Here they seem to self reinforce, more people magnetized to stand in line and not miss out, happily waiting 20 maybe 30 mins for their $4 curry chicken noodle.... This I find hard to fathom.

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Postby Steve1960 » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 9:42 am

We do 95% of our eating at home, after years of not being interested in cooking I find I am really enjoying it.

Whilst the Hawker food looks interesting I don't know that I could eat there every day. For the vast majority of the food I eat I do like to know what's in it. I suspect they use a lot of salt and MSG amongst other things which would not be great for my high blood pressure! We never add salt at home and try to ensure the cooking ingredients don't contain salt as far as possible.

I can only comment on one local family who we have become friends with. They eat Hawker food almost exclusively and hardly ever cook. Yes it's cheap and abundant but I also see social pressures. There are several generations of family living in the apartment, I think eating out gives them a chance to have some space and time to themselves. Plus the kitchen and equipment is not really suitable for feeding so many people at one meal.

As for the shopping it is easy to get sucked in to the culture, we did after arriving here. It's just too easy to end up walking around the shopping mall's especially if you use the MRT as we do as you are delivered to their doorstep! Now we do different things at the weekends. Take our daughter to run around at Botanic Gardens or go swimming or out on the bicycle. We were sucked back into the shops around Christmas of course but just this morning I said to the wife 'that's it no more shopping now unless it's the wet market or NTUC'!!

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Postby Hannieroo » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 11:53 am

I thought my eating habits were poor but even I know subway has no vitamins.

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Postby Wd40 » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 12:02 pm

I have changed my breakfast diet in the last few months to almost exclusively 2 slices of gardenia wholemeal bread and omelette made of 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk. It keeps me full until lunch at 12:30 and I have lost about 5 kgs of weight, coupled with excercise ofcourse.

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Postby Beeroclock » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 12:13 pm

Hannieroo wrote:I thought my eating habits were poor but even I know subway has no vitamins.
well this has rocked my world....
Really? I usually get a decent whack of salad in there, and I opt without cheese and no/low fat dressing, and this is intended to be my healthy lunch to offset all the others which I am scared to mention now!

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Re: Adapting to the local culture...

Postby bgd » Fri, 03 Jan 2014 12:37 pm

russlan wrote:
2) Is there any way to connect with the other kind of people? Any forums/meetups etc.?

Thanks.


I found them by going to a British pub. It was a nice mixture of expats and locals. The regular locals had travelled and been influenced by their experiences and exposure to expats.


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