Between Beer and Hausfrauen – My Life As A Singaporean In Germany

Writing about Singapore from a foreigners point of view, not loosing your objectivity and digging below the artificial surface is a challenging thing to do. Controversial for some and interesting for others.
But there is one thing I always wondered about. How do locals feel in a strange, new other country? What does it mean to be a Singaporean over seas? Do they experience the same that I did?

Chris Living In Germany – Check Out Her Blog Here!

Germany – Only The Usual Stereotypes

I don’t remember having any expectations when I moved from Singapore to Germany to be with my partner. No expectations other than the usual stereotypes that non-Germans have about the country and its people – polite and efficient. And well, the cars. (The West And Asia – Racism And Sauerkraut)

I was excited about the change. It’s something every young Singaporean dreams about. Ask if they would like to live abroad and you’ll be sure to get a slight rolling of eyes, a sort of huffy impatience, and, a “duh” in response. It seems none of us can wait to leave. I was glad for the chance and I was looking forward to living our life out in Europe, far from the reaches of my mother’s apron strings (oh, but don’t they just go on and on). Far, also, from the stares my partner and I – we’re a mixed couple – receive when we walk down the street.

Looking Behind The Curtain

The first few months in Germany were alright. There’s always a foggy period in between arriving at your destination and seeing a place for what it is. The average tourist doesn’t linger long enough to get over that initial bit when you mostly have your head stuck behind a camera/guidebook/map. Blinded too much by the strangeness of it all to really look. It took me some time to get over the new environment: old European architecture, the cobblestone streets, the pastries (which accounted for a ten percent increase in my weight until I banned myself from visiting the neighborhood bakery).

“Germans Are As Kiasu As Singaporeans”

Then, somewhere between the constant drizzle and my forlorn search for a good Asian restaurant, I lost my rose-coloured glasses (an aside: apparently when asked what overseas Singaporeans miss most about their country, literally everybody cries, “Food!” and then starts to go on about chicken rice and bak chor mee). Anyway. I was out buying bread, waiting for my turn at the counter when I realized that several Hausfrauen behind me were pushing in and trying to get in front of me at the queue. They practically had their noses in my hair. Bloody hell, I thought, these people are kiasu. And they are. Germans are as kiasu as any auntie in Singapore. They are the ones standing first in line two hours before a budget airline is due to board. They are the ones who will sneak in if you leave just an inch between your body and the person in front. Same with public transport. I always have to fight to get off the tram (I am quite small for these parts) because once the doors open, everyone just barges right in. Sound familiar, anybody? (Asia And The West – The Image We Leave Behind)

Have You Ever Eaten Dog?

After a while, I found all this pretty funny. Particularly because these minor irritations faded in comparison with other things. Things like being constantly stared at (so much for leaving that behind in Singapore). The absolute lack of good service – locals call it the “service desert”. Unabashed racist treatment I got from Germans (most of all from salespeople). People asking me, with utter seriousness, if I ever eaten a dog.

I’m in no way trying to paint with a broad brush. But living outside of Singapore has made me appreciate my home country a lot more. When I’m back, I say Hi and Thank You a lot more because after so many months of being frowned at and ignored, I light up just having someone smile at me. Even if it’s while I’m handing over money for my pack of chicken rice.

How Is Your Life Overseas? Share Your Story!

If you are from Singapore and you decided to move out, leave the country, for work, for love or for any other reason, please send me your story about how you feel, live and experience your new home. I will publish your story here, with a link to your web page or blog.
Common Singaporeans, how is your life?

comments

3 Comments

LoLo

LOL. Well dunno if all you re say is true but wait to visit France…You will swim right back to Singapore!! thx for sharing the experience though…

Salie

This is completely strange. I lived in Germany for some months and my experiences were very postive and differs from the interview.

I’ve never experienced Germans sneaking in queues and barging right in trains. They were the complete opposite, always politely entering & exiting the trains. They also remain a standard distance away from the person infront of them in queues.

Service is variable in Germany, just like in Singapore- sometimes I meet reallyyy friendly sales people who smile and talk to me. At other times, just not-so-good. I do not feel that it is due to racism.

I’ve never experienced unbashed racism in Germany. I find that Germans are very careful in this aspect because of the Nazi past. Most of the time, Germans are curious in a positive light, about what was I doing in a foreign land. Old German women in the supermarkets and people on the trains would speak to me. I tell them in German that I do not understand everything because my German is pretty poor but they insist on asking me tons of questions that I did not understandanyway. The Germans are also always helping me with my luggages. In Singapore, NO ONE ever helps me with that! Another point to note is that Germans are always inviting me to their hometowns, they would show me their town and stuff me with lots of food- raclette and fondue dinners.

These are just a few things I experienced. There is much more to that, I’ve met Germans whom I enjoyed sincere friendships with. I would say- the most reliable, efficient and effective (?!) friends you can ever find.

Priscilla

Hi! I would like to write something about staying overseas for the past 3 years. Do I have to email you? Or should I write here? Wouldn´t it be too long to write here?

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