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Living in Singapore?

  1. Jun 23, 2012 #1

    There's a college there, the NUS, which offers tuition waivers to accepted applicants. However, the catch is that one is required to stay in the country and work for another couple of years. Four, I believe.

    If anybody here has been there, I'd be interested in knowing your thoughts on it. How is the "culture" there compared to where you're from?

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  3. Jun 23, 2012 #2


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    I've been to Singapore several times, and I like it (I'm from the US). I also have friends that lived there for 3-4 years. It's a very modern city, with very much a 'melting pot' type multi-national culture. English is the official language, so this is nice for us native English speakers. It's right on the equator, so it's always hot and humid. The only negative I know of is that it is a small island and after a while you have seen everything and start to long for some variety. People I know would take periodic trips to neighboring nations (Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, ...) to deal with this.
  4. Jun 23, 2012 #3


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    I'm a Singaporean (born and bred).

    It's a very clean place in general, both physically, and in terms of being corruption-free. It's rather a sterile place as far as "local colour" goes, and there's no real politics to speak of (authoritarian state with a very illiberal excuse for a democracy). Nothing even vaguely kinky is allowed to exist for long here - absolutely no nude beaches, highly controlled and censored art scene, etc. Still, things generally work here, and it's a very safe country (although this has been taking a turn for the worse of late).

    Cost of living is not as low as you'd expect from an Asian city. The seriously big-ticket items are cars and housing. Both are ridiculously priced - I can buy a new Porsche 911 turbo in the US for what I'd pay for a Toyota Camry here (about US$140,000), and a seaside bungalow in the US for what I'd pay for a cramped shoebox apartment here (more than US$800,000). But public transportation works reasonably well here, and rental rates are fairly reasonable if your expectations are not too high.

    Singapore is a food paradise of sorts, and if you love eating, you'll love this place. It's also great for shopping, and things (other than cars and houses) are generally a little cheaper than in the US (and certainly cheaper than in the UK), but don't expect too many great bargains.

    If you want the insider's perspective, you're welcome to PM me with any specific questions. Maybe let me know where you hail from, so that I can gauge if it's going to be a culture-shock (shouldn't be, since Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state with tons of foreigners of all stripes).
  5. Jun 23, 2012 #4


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    I've read that Singapore has laws against certain kinds of public behavior that would be considered not worth bothering with elsewhere. I don't remember specific examples off the top of my head, but they're things on the order of chewing gum in public or wearing long hair.
  6. Jun 23, 2012 #5


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    1) Chewing gum is banned in Singapore. You can't buy or sell it within the country. You *are* allowed to use it for personal consumption, but since you can't import it into the country, this is scant comfort. The only exception is certain brands of medicinal (dental) gums which you need to buy at a pharmacy (after giving them your personal particulars) after proving you have a medical condition like xerostomia (dry mouth). The latter concession was only made fairly recently.

    The reason this prohibition was put in place is because there were a few cases of indiscriminate disposal of used gum in the train system, which caused jamming of the doors and disruption of service. So, instead of taking a measured response, the authorities just banned the sale of chewing gum entirely. Such draconian lawmaking is par for the course in Singapore.

    2) Long hair is OK, unless you're a local male (like me) who needs to do conscripted military and reservist service until a ripe old age. But there have been cases where people with long hair have been discriminated against - the most egregious one that comes to mind is when the New Age musician Kitaro was barred from entry into Singapore at Changi Airport for sporting waist-length hair. That was way back in 1984, though, and I think that sort of ludicrousness has mostly passed. Mostly.

    This is not a place to come to to let your hair down (metaphorically or literally). However, if you're basically a strong social conservative who likes clean living and a safe environment to raise your kids, you can't do much better than Singapore.

    Amplifying on the last point, Singapore is completely drug free, mainly because of the harsh penalties dealt to those who traffic or use illegal narcotics. We're talking death by hanging here, a punishment that's used quite freely for narcotics offences. So, if you'd miss smoking the occasional joint, don't even think about coming to Singapore. Singapore's drug laws are so strict that citizens can't even consume drugs outside the country (if, for instance, they find cannabinoid derivatives in the urine of a citizen returning from Amsterdam, he'd be in deep trouble).
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  7. Jun 23, 2012 #6
    I appreciate the quick responses.

    It looks like I will be able to adapt without too much difficulty, in the event that I do get accepted! Let's hope my mother's mind is at peace with the "no drug" policy. I hope she trusts that I have the sense to stay away from such things...

    Good to know that long hair is no longer too frowned upon. I'm growing out mine. It's still "short-ish" though. (barely reaches that part just below my ear)

    In case I have any further questions (which I will no doubt have in case I do go there), I will definitely post here. Again, thank you.

    It may be interesting (for some) to note that Yale and NUS have established a partnership. The first batch will be the class of 2017, which is my year. Looks like an interesting program!
  8. Jun 23, 2012 #7


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    Singapore Unis have been partnering with prestigious US Unis for a while now. Duke has a partnership with NUS, roping in doctors from my hospital to teach - I'm one of the tutors in the programme. There are other partnerships between NUS and NTU (another Singapore Uni) and MIT and other US Unis/Tech Institutes.

    A little OT, but I noticed from your profile page that you're an Opeth fan. So am I. In fact, Opeth made their first visit to Singapore in Feb as part of the Heritage tour, and (almost needless to say) I was there, front and centre, at the concert. Caught two guitar picks thrown by Fredrik Akesson. One great thing about Singapore is that lots of bands (including metal ones) find their way here - Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Morbid Angel all came here very recently (I went to the Maiden gig too). So if you're into that, you'll have fun - heck, look me up and we can go together if you're keen.
  9. Jun 23, 2012 #8


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    I agree the response is rather extreme, but having occasionally stepped on wads of chewing gum on the pavement and then having had to clean them off my shoes, I have to say I sympathize somewhat. :biggrin:
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