Commonly referred to as the “Little Red Dot”, Singapore has grown from a tiny fishing village to a cosmopolitan hub in the span of fifty short years. A city with an aesthetic blend of cultures, cuisines, religions and languages, Singapore is often as described as “unique”, with its distinctive factor being its racial harmony. The four major races – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian – each have their own exclusive takes on religion, food, culture and language, and yet, there is an undeniable overlap between them. However, they still manage to retain their authenticity, while growing along with Singapore’s urbanization.
Living in Singapore is a truly enriching experience. It is said to be the perfect embodiment of the best of the East and the West, incorporating Western work culture into Eastern traditions and heritage. Over 7000 multinational companies have set up their bases in Singapore, as its ideal location provides easy access to the rest of Asia. The open recruitment policies, low personal taxation, and the high quality of life are what attracts foreign talent, which accounts for about 30% of the workforce. The billions of dollars allocated to research and development, and numerous new developments, have made Singapore one of the fastest growing economies with an abundance of opportunities for everyone.
Singapore has also become a leading nation in education. The plethora of local and international schools, home-grown universities, colleges and polytechnics all cater to each and every student’s needs, both educational and financial-wise. The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are ranked in the top fifty universities in the world. Every educational institution boasts an intermingling of races, with students from diverse backgrounds.
Though Singapore is accepting of anyone and everyone, the lifestyle here takes a while to get used to, especially due to language barriers. Singaporeans speak a unique colloquial language called “Singlish”, which is a mix of English along with Malay and Chinese words. Though it may be a bit frustrating for newcomers to understand at first, it is delightful to see them slowly get accustomed to Singlish, and even start speaking it! However, since English is the standard language of business and education, communication is not a big problem in these areas. While Malay is the national language, most Singaporeans are bilingual, speaking both English and their native language, and many know even three or four.
Religious tolerance plays a big role in keeping Singapore at peace, but there is one harsh truth to be learned – the locals are not always welcoming of foreigners. While this does not translate into direct hostility, it is not entirely uncommon as one can always sense some sort of distance between a local and a foreigner. However, this does not stop them from being welcoming, as this social amalgamation is what makes Singapore urban and continuously grow.
The climate might be a hindrance though – Singapore is extremely humid, and the year is one long, never-ending summer. The monsoon months are usually from December to March and June to September, and Singapore is well-known for torrential downpours. The weather is extremely erratic, though, as it is very common to have rain and sunshine at the same time! But the breezes are truly enjoyable, especially nearer to the coasts.
While the costs of living are quite high, they can be adjusted to fit almost any budget. Singapore boasts a diverse range of accommodations, with new developments springing up almost everywhere in the city. Singapore is also known for its shopping and nightlife scenes, with tourists and locals prowling the iconic Orchard Road stretch, as well as the Clarke Quay and Boat Quay areas at almost all times of the year. Political stability adds to Singapore’s safe and secure environment, and there is quite a low crime rate. But of course, every place has its “bad parts” as well, and the only warning needed in Singapore is to keep away from the darker (literally) neighbourhoods, where crimes are higher.
Overall, living in Singapore is an entirely different experience, as it is such a cosmopolitan area, and at the same time keeps in touch with its roots and is proud of its humble beginnings. Its impressive history, cultural diversity and distinctiveness from the rest of Asia and the world is what makes it so attractive, and they can only be explored by immersing oneself in all of its facets. This fishing-village-turned-globalised-city is one that delivers spectacularly, each and every single time.
My name is Nikki and I currently study in Singapore. I come from Bangalore, India while my parents come from two different Indian states, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and I have lived in various cities like Delhi and Bombay. Other than my academics, I have been learning Bharatanatyam, which is a form of classical Indian dance, for the past 10 years now. I also love to read and am a volunteer at the Singapore National Library. I have a great attraction towards these projects due to my passion to help people, and I find that these make me a more compassionate person, as well as help me to see the reality of the world.