10 differences between Singapore and London

After living and working in Singapore for just under a month I can confirm that I lived in the Singaporean bubble – and an entirely different culture. 

  1. Singaporeans have no qualms with invading your personal space. Perhaps this is a pleasant change to the overly polite ways of Londoners. Nonetheless, it takes some getting used to when you have a man breathing down your neck when there are ten seats available on the bus. 
  2. They walk very slowly here – no one is in a rush. Apart from the ex-pats and perhaps the Australians and Brits here on business. It is an nightmare if you are late. They also stand on the left on the escalators but they drive on the same side as us in the UK – it made me think, why do we stand on the right in London when we drive on the left? However, the system is not as well enforced over here. At rush hour, the right seems to also be used for standing, normally blocked by someone having a leisurely chat. So, again, if you’re running late, you don’t stand a chance. 
  3. However, is there such thing as late here? Arriving on Monday 15th August, my boss strictly told me not to apologise if I was five or fifteen minutes late. He told me they are very laid back and flexible. You can arrive at 9, or perhaps 10 if you’d like a lie-in. This is not what I am used to back in London – I would get a call from my boss if five minutes had passed since I was supposed to be at work.img_0703
  4. As many people are already aware, Singapore is expensive. But you can find cheap meals. I can pay $5 for a huge portion of katsu curry – a bigger portion than Wasabi back in London. You just need to know where to go. They have a PAUL here – only go there if you are willing to pay higher prices than London.
  5. It’s very difficult for your body to adjust to the frequent temperate change of heat and humidity outside and freezing air-con in every workplace, bus, train and restaurant. I arrive outside my building dripping in sweat but I have to carry a jacket or a cardigan because it is so cold inside the office. So I’m content all day snuggled in a cardigan and then home time arrives – back to the sticky heat. There is no point showering here as a means of cooling down and feeling refreshed – as soon as you step out the shower, the stick and sweat is back.
  6. Alcohol is also ludicrously expensive – average price for a pint is $16 and a bottle of wine is around $50. I found this out when I first arrived in Singapore and decided to go out, full of excitement but also stupidly jet lagged. My friend and I must have spent around $200 between us that night. One Friday I went out with a family friend and I ordered a jug of beer for us because a friend had ordered it for us the Friday before. The bill arrived and it was $98. You can imagine how apologetic I was to my family friend – I was not expecting that bill. img_0742
  7. Singapore is safe – almost too safe. Yes, crime still happens, but I am perfectly safe walking home at 3am down a quiet, unlit street. I could have my rucksack open all the way to work and everything would still be there. One night I went out for drinks with my friend and his colleagues and they told me to put my purse in the middle of the road as a social experiment – they guaranteed it would not be touched. Either that or it would be handed to a bar. 
  8. Now for the big guns – the law. You can only smoke in designated smoking areas across the city or next to a bin that has an ashtray. You cannot ash your cigarette on the floor. You will get some odd looks if you walk down a street with a cigarette in hand. Littering is strictly illegal. This is a pleasant change from London – streets are remarkably clean and tidy. 
  9. Jaywalking is illegal. The traffic lights are red for approximately three minutes so you can’t get anywhere in a hurry, whether it be in your car or trying to cross a road. You learn to realise how quick our traffic light system is once you’ve been here for a while. img_0651
  10. I tried to get my work pass delivered to where I’m living for three weeks but I had to provide three adults and all their details. I tried my best to explain the family set-up of mum, dad, and two children but the poor lady just didn’t understand. Here, it is the norm to live with your entire extended family and she seemed baffled that I was only living with two adults, not twenty-two. 

    By Imogen Braddick. Imogen interned at Reuters News for 3 weeks in Singapore.