I’ve been here for nearly 3 weeks and now officially started my 3rd year of university!
With the passing time here I have noticed a few things now that although must seem perfectly normal to any resident here that I find completely baffling! Here is a list of things that I have gradually realised are part of the daily ‘norm’ that I find utterly confusing:
- Why does ‘cleaning’ here mean getting a hose, soaking everything and then leaving the room covered in water? I have been into the changing rooms in the gym at uni several times and the floors are wet but so are the walls and all of the toilet… just because it’s wet doesn’t mean it’s clean surely!
- Everyone just sleeps anywhere – now I don’t mean at night because obviously that should be in a bed. But a lot of people take naps throughout the day, however they don’t seem compelled to find a bed for this; a bench, wall or even pavement will do apparently!? Again another changing room anacdote: every time I have been into the changing room there are the 2 janitors who after cleaning the rooms seem to just sit on the benches eating their lunches and taking naps… It is not at all unnerving to have two women sleeping while i get changed for the gym. Nope that’s normal.
- How can people (again napping related) fall asleep on public transport and then manage to wake up at the exact moment they need to get off? It is a miracle that more people don’t miss their stops as sometimes about half of a MRT carriage can all have drooping heads! The stop is called and suddenly they are alert and ready to go, it’s impressive but very odd.
- The walking pace here is at most a leisurely stroll. I am a fast walker whether I am in a rush or not and no one seems to bother moving out of the way for you, you just have to get in line and walk their pace.
- My biggest irritation with this country is …. Sandwiches. All I want is a sandwich!!! I found a shop called the sandwichguys – obviously specialist sandwich makers right? I ordered a BLT because who can mess up a BLT? well apparently they can. The limited amount of filling may have been overlooked, however they also decided that it should be a toasted sandwich – so they put the sandwich in a toasty machine… and 3 minutes later I get a slightly warm soggy BLT. I guess I’ll just stick with the endless amount of noodles and rice and stop trying to eat sandwiches!
- Singaporean English is the biggest hurdle that I face on a daily basis, this isn’t confusing to me but it is a shock! Apparently it is called ‘Singlish’? Basically I can speak with my very clear English accent using basic words and they look at me with absolutely no understanding of what I have said, and yet between themselves talk in what I can only understand as sounds with no clarity of letters or even defined words. I went into a shop to go and buy a lab coat and asked where I might find one at the till but despite repeating the question the cashier only looked at me confused. Luckily the guy next to me had overheard and understood what I was asking for and therefore repeated it back to her in English however all I could make out was “la co”. Despite missing out pronouncing any of the defining letters she immediately understood and directed me to them. It is so confusing to come to a country that primarily speaks English and not understand them let alone not be understood myself!!
I’m not entirely sure whether I will get used to any of these habits and traits of Singapore but it does make it more interesting.