Discovering things you love about your new culture is a fun aspect of cross-cultural living. Three weeks in Singapore have given us many things to appreciate. I’m a simple woman, so some of these items just make everyday life a little easier. Here is the first edition of Things We Love about Singapore!
Let’s get the awkward one out of the way. Bathrooms are a necessity. Public bathrooms should be helpful, in my opinion. A person should have enough room, privacy, and tools to get things done and be on their way as soon as possible. Large-area bathrooms in Singapore offer many things that American bathrooms lack. Here are some of things I appreciate most:
- No Privacy Gap: Toilet doors are full-length and close with NO GAP! I’m sure you are already on board with all the ways that is better, so I won’t elaborate.
- Urinals for boys in the Ladies Room: Little boys that visit the bathroom with their female family members enjoy their own space.
- Nursing Room: I started seeing these in the States before we left. However, the ones here have sliding doors, so mommas wrangling little ones and shopping items can just bump the button to get inside.
- Wheelchair accessible bathrooms: Again, sliding doors for the win. Navigating typical bathrooms in the states proves difficult for those in wheelchairs. These bathrooms are independent and allow much easier access and privacy for those with disabilities.
In smaller public areas, you might have to bring your own toilet tissue and you don’t have all of these amenities. However, you are never far away from them if needed.
Delightfully, people sing in public places. Several times, others have burst into song around me in parks, on buses, walking behind me, pretty much anywhere. Most of those singing have been older. It blesses me to hear song throughout the day and I am thankful for its cultural acceptance here.
For such a small, populated place, Singapore’s beauty exceeds expectations. Meticulous planning and Singapore’s commitment to protect its natural resources allow her natural beauty to shine. The beauty is a powerful antidote to the hustle and bustle of this thriving island. Even in crowds, I find peace and calm from my surroundings here. As an introvert, that has been a happy surprise for me.
Hands down, my favorite thing about living here is the people. Singaporeans exhibit generosity, warmth, and kindness. As a guest in their country, I deeply appreciate these qualities. Here are some experiences I have had in our first month:
- While registering for a library card, I found that none of my payment options were acceptable. The librarian kindly offered to pay my fee with her own ATM card so that I could check out books that day. I reimbursed her with cash and was moved by her kindness.
- On the MRT, several young Singaporeans have given their seats up to me, insisting I be able to rest.
- Singlish (the Singaporean English) requires some adjustment for English speakers from other countries. I have poor hearing in one ear, so communication can be a challenge. Embarrassing gaffes have dotted my first month in Singapore, but the people remain courteous, even empathetic to my struggles. One technician who came to our house spoke with me for over an hour, patiently explaining things about the culture, how to approach Singaporeans in different situations, and asking about home. He just wanted to install my internet, but got pulled into a broad conversation instead.
- Singaporeans are a minority in their own country. As I imagine the potential feelings around their situation, I marvel at their hospitality to foreigners. As a rule, Singaporeans appear to welcome us and work to live alongside us harmoniously. One deviation from this rule comes from visitors criticizing Singapore. We observed this firsthand in a humorous encounter at an MRT station. An Australian man was loudly arguing with a kind and patient staff person over a charge on his card. The man insulted Singapore’s public transport system, claiming Melbourne’s was better. He was belligerent and while the staff person remained professional, an elderly man took up his country’s defense. Soon, the two engaged in a lively debate that ended with the Australian taking his children off in a huff. The elderly man turned to us and said, “If he likes it so much better there, he should stay there.” I have to agree.
I’m going to wrap this up for now. There will be future editions of what we love about Singapore. If you are reading this and love something about Singapore, add yours to the list! Talk to you soon.