Jan 22, 2011

Eh! You are from Singapore? What Foreigners Think of Us

Decided to do a mini post on what the foreigners think of Singapore, during my one year stay in Japan (as a foreigner haha...). Foreigners in this post refer to the Japanese and other foreigners (non-Singaporeans) who come to work or study in Japan.

If they have some impression of Singapore...
They will usually start with.. Oh! Singapore! It's a very clean country. And you know where the conversation will lead to... You guys impose fines for people who litter right?

Ah. The infamous tidbit of Singapore's traits. Singapore is a fine country, as in fines, collecting money as punishment for certain offences. But, do note, we do impose corrective work order now too, in addition to just fines.

Or the other very famous one... You guys get fined for eating gum too, right? Or Is gum illegal in Singapore?

Umm... yes. This law was enacted in 1992, and is still remembered fondly by our foreigner friends. Actually, it bans the import and sale of chewing gum, and not really the actual consumption. But then, since you can't import nor sell it, then no one in Singapore in actual fact can eat it then. Allowances has been permitted to nicotine gum which helps smokers to quit smoking. You would need to show your IC to buy though.

Or on the brighter note... Singapore! Ah! I know, I know! Merlion! You have merlion, right?

This, I think STB and travel agencies have done a pretty good job. Yes, they remember our mascot, Merlion! :D Merlion is often featured in Japanese textbooks which has the topic on Singapore, too.

If they have no impression of Singapore...
Seeing that I am a Chinese, they will immediately link to... Is Singapore part of China? Which by all considerations, a very valid point, as I am a Chinese, and Singapore is a very tiny country, so if you have not been around Malaysia, Indonesia etc, you probably won't notice Singapore.

Or, they usually think... Is Singapore a city in Malaysia? Are you a Malaysian? Due to the close proximity of Singapore and Malaysia, often I am mistaken as a Malaysian as well.

Some are very surprised by Singapore's climate though... Eh! You don't have winter? Not even the four seasons? Even xxx has winter.

This is probably because they have not visited any tropical or sub-tropical countries, so they cannot imagine a place with summer all-year round, like Singapore. I am envious of them though, I would love to live in a place with 4 seasons. Then you would have autumn colours, blooming of cherry blossoms, and snow.

*I'll update more as I go along. :)