Cultural Shocks in Singapore as an Expat
Even though Singapore is quite westernized and English is the primary language spoken in business establishments, it can provide culture shocks to people that travel here for the first time. The language can be an eye opener as local people here speak a mix of English and Malay or Cantonese which is called Singlish and may be difficult to understand the first time you hear it.
Food courts for expats – As eating in restaurants is an expensive endeavor in this city, people prefer to eat out in food courts at shopping malls and other public places. There are several European restaurants here offering a mix of Italian, Mexican and also American style food options along with different fast food chains. Expats brave enough to try out local food can start with both vegetarian and non vegetarian options which may be a little spicy for Europeans as it contains local spices. The local markets still have roadside cobblers who repair shoes sitting on the roadside as you enjoy fried chicken feet or hot dimsums.
Cars are an expensive luxury – A person interested in importing a car and driving in Singapore for ten years needs to take special license with which you can buy a luxury car from the United States but it also has to be renewed every ten years. As an importer, an expat will need to pay 150 percent tax along with several other permits and taxes to be able to drive in Singapore.
Cheap domestic help – Having a maid in Europe and America is a luxury that few can afford but in Asia it is a common practice which most westerners find amazing. Though communication can become a problem in initial months, you can soon get around to it as domestic help can assist you in household chores, taking care of your children or shopping expeditions.
Taxicabs and finding the right address – Since buying and maintaining a car in Singapore is expensive, most people prefer moving around in taxicabs and there are several taxi stands near housing societies and shopping malls. Expats can have a tough time deciphering addresses in this city as streets in a particular area will have the same name with different numbers so you are likely to be faced with Geylang Street 1, 2, 3, 4 or Geylang Road 1,2,3,4 and again Geylang Lane with similar numbering which can be pretty confusing at times.
Though the city is quite conservative, its easy-going people will make it comfortable for expats to fit into local culture and become a part of the society.