Studying as a foreign student in Singapore can be a very rewarding experience, no matter if you study in one of the many excellent local educational institutions managed by the Ministry of Education or in an international school.
Singapore is simply an ideal place for families to build their lives, thanks to the city-state’s top-notch education system, world-class urban infrastructure, and year-round balmy climate. It offers a plethora of learning opportunities and a variety of experiences for leisure and recreation, so young children and teenagers will find the country to be the perfect backdrop for completing their international education. You can even Google-search “International School Singapore” and you’ll easily discover that the city is home to some of the best international schools in Asia.
Not surprisingly, when one lives in a new country for any period of time, they also tend to develop singular habits that stem from their exposure to the culture and practices of their host country. In this article, we’ll explore some of these habits that foreign students adopt when they study in Singapore.
Taking the Public Transport at a Relatively Young Age
Singapore’s public transportation system is undoubtedly one of the best and most convenient in the world, so schoolchildren here tend to learn how to take buses and the MRT at a relatively young age— when they are around 8 to 10 years old. Mass transit vehicles are clean, safe, and they always arrive on time, so they are very reliable in terms of transporting kids from home to school and back home again.
Children can certainly still choose to be picked up by their school bus, or parents can opt for a carpooling service or a private driver service instead. However, taking public transport is indeed a lesson in independence that children here can learn very early in their lives.
Taking an Umbrella Wherever One Goes
Singapore may have a warm climate all year round, but that also means you can expect showers and thunderstorms when you least expect them. In particular, rain showers are common during the early months of the northeast monsoon season (December and January) and during the southwest monsoon season (June to September). However, the weather can be unpredictable, and it can certainly rain any time of the year.
For this reason, many people in Singapore, including schoolchildren, have learned to bring foldable umbrellas with them—just in case they are caught in a sudden rain shower. As for raincoats and ponchos, they might just be too warm for Singapore’s tropical climate.
Learning How to Speak “Singlish”
Singlish—portmanteau for “Singapore” and “English”—is a kind of creole language that came about as a result of Singapore’s multicultural heritage. Not only was Singapore a British colony for 144 years, it is also a place that has become a melting pot of people from different ethnic, cultural, and linguistic origins, including Malays, Tamils, and the different Chinese groups. It’s not so surprising then that there is a language here that has developed and has come to incorporate elements from languages such as English, Malay, Hokkien, Tamil, Cantonese, Teochew, and Peranakan.
Although Singlish is not formally taught in schools, children can pick it up when interacting with people from their neighborhoods or communities. And while almost all Singaporeans speak and understand standard English, using Singlish can be very useful when one is buying food from hawker centers, transacting with vendors, or running other daily errands. At the very least, kids here tend to learn how to code-switch between English and other languages to have more efficient conversations with other people, especially with those from the older generation.
Becoming Very Disciplined
Time and again, people from overseas have referred to Singapore as a “fine city”—that is, you could get fined for a lot of things or activities that may seem innocuous elsewhere. From chewing gum and lighting fireworks to bringing durian inside a bus and keeping cats in an HDB flat, there are too many things here that could get a person in trouble with the law. Even children or underage teens here can be fined if they were to try smoking a cigarette, for example.
However, one has to understand that Singapore is a country that runs like clockwork, and to keep the peace and order, it has to rely on this constellation of laws. This is also why schoolchildren here learn to become very disciplined at a young age, and it’s a lesson that will certainly benefit them later in life when they develop into productive, law-abiding members of society.
Eating Like a King or Queen All the Time
Owing to the multicultural character of Singapore, the food and dining scenes here have become equally diverse and spectacular. The fusion of flavors and culinary traditions has created a singular cuisine that is unlike anything in the world. The blending of elements from Chinese, Malay, Indian, and European cooking has resulted in famous Singaporean dishes like chilli crab, Hokkien mee, Hainanese chicken rice, char kuey teow, otak otak, laksa, bak kut teh, and kaya toast.
On top of this, Singapore is also one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, which is why it isn’t hard to find dining options here if one were craving for traditional foods from other parts of the world, or even fusion foods inspired by such dishes from other countries.
For expat families living in Singapore, this makes the city a veritable food paradise, a place where one can have virtually anything they want, palate-wise. Aside from this, enjoying food here is certainly not an expensive feat by any means, owing to the fact that the city is home to numerous hawker centers, which are food courts that serve very delicious but also very inexpensive meals.
Singapore is not only a place that is noted for its excellent system of education, it is also a city that is at once orderly and creative, diverse and unique. Families with school-age children will find it to be the perfect jumping-off point for an overseas lifestyle that is exciting, rewarding, and inspiring all at the same time. How about you? What curious habits have you developed while living in Singapore?