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East vs West

By February 04, 2015 , , ,

A delicious lotus pau (image via)
Moving to a new country means experiencing a new culture, cuisine and customs. It means having to adapt to a different set of rules and regulations. It means learning a new language (in this case, Singlish) and your way around a completely unfamiliar place. It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. Luckily, my transition to Singapore has been like sinking your teeth into a steamed lotus pau bun (a local snack I’ve grown to love) – sweet and satisfying. Of course, there are still some adjustments and new learnings I face everyday, many of which are utterly mundane, everyday things. Like the following…

1. Having to write the date in reverse. I’m so used to writing the month, day, and year (e.g., 1/2/2015). Here and in the rest of Asia, it’s written as day, followed by month and year (i.e., 2/1/2015). Argh! It’s a total change in mindset and I always have to think twice before writing the date now.

2. Learning that the monosyllabic word “can” can be a response to everything. “Can we go for lunch?...Can!” or “I was thinking of buying this dress. What do you think?...Can!” It’s like the meaning of sureyes, or go for it all rolled into one.

3. Having to get used to British English as opposed to American English. Lift instead of elevatorpram instead of strollerqueue instead of linealight instead of get off/disembark. Or seeing words spelled the British way – like colourfavouriteplagiarisedmonetised, etc. I'm still sticking to my American English...for the time being!

4. Realizing the power of a pack of tissues. Here in Singapore, if someone wants to reserve a table for themselves at a public place or food court, they place a pack of tissues. It means “Back off, this table's mine!”.

5. Having to forgo the American traditions and big events that I’m so familiar with…yet embracing new ones which are also cool. For example, Halloween and Thanksgiving came and went last year, and it just felt weird not to celebrate it the way I’ve always done in the U.S. Similarly, the Super Bowl and Oscars which always get so much fanfare and coverage barely get a buzz here. At the same time, it’s great to see Chinese New Year, Eid, and Diwali being celebrated in a big way and getting public holidays for these occasions!

6. The inexplicable penchant for 90's hit songs playing on the radio. I’m talking Lisa Loeb, Natalie Imbruglia, Toni Braxton, Michael Learns to Rock, and even some obscure UK boy bands (S Club 7, remember them?!). Every time I sit in a taxi, it feels like a trip down memory lane...LITERALLY.

What are differences you have experienced between the East and West? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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