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Living in Singapore
The little red dot. The lion city. A 'fine' country - a pun on the many signs that are related to fines cluttered along the streets. These are just a few of the many epithets and nicknames that have been bestowed upon Singapore since her independence from neighboring Malaysia in 1965. Being new to this densely populated small city state, there are indeed plenty of subjects and matters to explore, namely general lifestyle, racial tolerance and standard of living. I will touch on all of these matters briefly.
Singapore PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
For an average Singaporean, life can, at times, be pretty hectic. Foreign tourists visiting Singapore's Central Business District constantly wonder what makes the Singaporean walk slightly faster, look at their watches more, do things at a slightly increased pace. Without any natural resources to provide economic security to the nation, its citizens are the backbone that runs the country like a well-oiled machine. While slowly becoming one of the fastest developing nations in the world, Singapore still has its deep-set Asian roots. After a hard day at work, the average Singaporean usually goes back home for a home cooked dinner with the rest of the family. I have seen people going back home late from work but still spend a considerable amount of time going through their children's school work. Perhaps this is what sets apart Singapore from its western counterparts, the family values are inculcated deep within them.
Even though a day job takes up most of the average Singaporean's quality time, its citizens do know how to kick back and relax as well. While the younger crowd haunts the bars and clubs at night, more and more Singaporeans are taking advantage of the tropical sunny weather to participate in physical activities over the weekend. Last weekend, while having a birthday BBQ event with friends, Singaporeans of all ages were gathered along the stretch of East Coast Park, frolicking around, some were rollerblading and cycling, having a game of football amongst friends and families, others were picnicking, taking in the sights and sounds, draining the pressure and stress from their place of work over the past week.
SingaporeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Over these past few months of my life in Singapore, the one thing I have noticed is the racial harmony amongst its citizens. Despite being racially diverse, having four official languages with a plethora of races living on one tiny island, the country thrives on its meritocracy and being racially tolerant of one another. One can attribute this to the dense population of Singapore and the majority of its citizens living in apartments. Having lived in the same apartment for almost an year now, I realize that my landlord share a great deal of interests and similarities with our neighbors of a different race. The landlord's wife shared the same feeling of loss and despair when her elder son and the neighbor's son had to answer the nation's call and serve in the army for their mandatory national service, almost at the same time. Even though tribes and races are fighting in other countries around the world, though racial tolerance should never be taken for granted, I feel safe and comforted amongst the diverse set of people in Singapore.
Singapore Coat of Arms
Being safe, secure and in a socially stable country like Singapore comes at a steep price. The tiny island state ranks as the third most expensive city in Asia to live in. In contrast to its South-East Asian neighbors, Singapore has a high standard of living. With its upcoming venture into casino resorts, I feel that Singapore is constantly undergoing changes to its social landscape. While this bodes well for its economy and its presence in the world, I feel that too much of it might change the core values, the family oriented ideologies and the social identity, of the average Singaporean. While I feel that Singapore is constantly changing and undergoing massive revamping of itself due to globalization, I know that Singapore is, and will always be, the place many people proudly call home.