埃琳娜 – these three characters spell out my first name in Chinese script. This was one of the first of many interesting things I learned when I arrived in Singapore at the end of June, ready to spend two months living and working there as part of my dual studies with MANN+HUMMEL.
And my name in Chinese script shouldn´t be the last thing I learned: Singapore has a population of 5 million, 75% ethnic Chinese and the remaining 25% from many other groups (primarily Malays and Indians, also 1.2 million migrant workers and other foreigners). What is more, the city state has four official languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Indian). Living here gives you a real feeling of internationality that I have rarely experienced elsewhere.
Warm welcome for my internship in Singapore
I am living at a colleague’s house for the 8 weeks I am here. This is an advantage in many ways: She is giving me so many good tips as to how I should best spend my time. I am also gaining a real insight into the way of life of a typical ‘Singaporean’ (their actual name!). Something I find fascinating is how few people regularly cook for themselves. Each group of houses here has its own FoodCourt which is in addition to the FoodCourts in the countless shopping malls. The various dishes there are so cheap (at around €2) that it is hardly worth it for single people or couples to cook for themselves. The Singaporeans are also some of the most disciplined people that I have ever met. When you wait for the tram, everyone forms an orderly queue and waits for passengers to alight before stepping aboard themselves. There is no pushing and shoving, even in the rush hour.
I couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome from my colleagues! For example, I was immediately included in a small ‘lunch group’. In this way, I quickly got to know all possible types of food and drink because at every lunch, colleagues would always recommend a particular dish or buy a little dessert for me. I was surprised how much I liked the food!
Working hours are similar to Germany, but just a bit later. We start here between half past eight and nine and work until half past five/six o’clock. I carry out various supporting activities for Finance Controlling Asia Pacific and also do some independent work. I have for example organised training in these first weeks, enabling the Asian companies to become familiar with a specific process.
The city of possibilities
Singapore is a city which is very well designed to accommodate visitors, so it is really easy to while away the time there. However, as it is already completely dark at the Equator at eight o’clock in the evening, week-days are more or less a non-starter for tourist activities (though in constant 32°C temperatures, a visit to the pool is most welcome). I certainly made good use of my weekends. One thing you can do on the island resort of Sentosa is to swim with dolphins – an opportunity I really couldn’t miss, as it has been my dream for many years! I also spent a long weekend visiting the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. It was most worthwhile as this city definitely has a lot to offer.
4 years later…
…I can say with absolute certainty that my internship abroad in Singapore left a profound and lasting impression on me. I can see this particularly in my career path, as after a few stopovers, I have found my way back to a position similar to the one I occupied in Singapore: for almost two years now I have been working in the Region Controlling Europe. And I also see it in the fact that South-East Asia has since then become a very popular destination for me. A while back, I visited Singapore again and immediately felt at home once more. And who knows, maybe one day in the future, I will have the chance to live and work in Singapore for a few years. I could well imagine it!