Ok, so I have been here a week now so I suppose it is time for a new update to my blog. I apologize for my lack of posts lately but I struggle with deciding what is really "blog worthy" and what is not, but I will try to post more often. For this post, I would like to focus on a few lessons on life in Singapore that I have learned in the first week.
Lesson #1: It's HOT!!
I was prepared for this to a small degree, but you can never really anticipate equatorial heat until you really experience it. The heat, compacted with the fact that everything in Singapore requires walking, and walking a LOT, leads to a constant sweat flow. There is no rewearing any clothes in Singapore, everything gets worn one time and then it needs to be washed. So the lesson learned really is that sweat is inevitable, so you might as well embrace it and get used to it.
Lesson #2: Walking in crowds is chaotic
Usually in the U.S. when you walk in a crowd the whole mob usually goes at the same constant pace, and usually people going one direction will pick one side to walk on while people going the other direction will walk on the other side. Not in Singapore. People will go faster than you, slower than you, walk right through you, and it really doesn't matter what direction you are going. Anytime I am in a store, or especially in the MRT (metro) stations, it is as if someone has kicked off the top of an anthill, everybody just chaotically goes in their own direction! So people bumping into you, rolling over your foot with a shopping cart, or nudging past you is completely normal here...just the way it is.
Lesson #3: Strangers don't talk
Living among the locals, I was really relishing in the opportunity to get to know them and become part of the community. I don't know if it is the southern roots in me, where we speak (or at least smile or wave!) to the people we pass on the streets, but I felt that this was completely a realistic expectation. However, I have had no such luck. It feels like as I am about to pass people on the side-walk where I WOULD make some form of contact, the locals just put their head down and avoid any communication. They will not even make eye contact with me when we are stuck in an elevator together! It is a little discouraging, but I am determined to break through, even if it just with those in my HDB (apartment building) and I have a feeling I may have to be a little more aggressive, but I am up for the challenge :) Oh and if you can make a connection, they are SUPER friendly. For instance, there were no free tables at the hawker stand so me and my flatmate, Johan, asked if we could sit with this couple who had plenty of room. They agreed and as they saw our food arrive, the man proceeded to teach us how the proper way to prepare and eat that dish! The hard part is just making that initial connection.
Lesson #4: You will never run out of new food to try
I won't go into too much detail about the food because I am saving that for another post (complimented with pictures!), but I wanted to end with a positive lesson. There is such a wide array of foods from different cultures, new fruits I have never even heard of, desserts and drinks that I honestly have not had the same thing twice here. Yet, I still feel like there is so much more I have to try! And the best part is that it is all good (well except this local fruit called durian that I keep hearing about, one day I'll be brave enough to try it). I have not had anything bad yet!
I am sure I have many more lessons yet to learn about the culture, but these were the most immediate ones.