Foreign students' local challenges

Even the native English speakers don't understand Singlish.

With non-residents comprising nearly 30 per cent of Singapore's population, it is not hard to find a foreigner in our community. 

While Singaporeans have their own opinions about foreigners, Youth.SG spoke to four foreign students to find out how they feel about living on our little red dot.

1. From Taiwan and living in Singapore for seven years

"When I first came to Singapore, it was so different from Taiwan, like the air quality was much better and it looked much greener.

I couldn't speak English and I had to take six months to learn the language. Understanding Singlish was another challenge because Singaporeans weren't speaking pure English.

My hobbies were also impossible to find because Singaporeans are not baseball fans. So over time I stopped playing baseball and now I just try to play soccer.

I feel part of Singapore because I am living with my cousin in the heart of Tanjong Pagar. Sooner or later, I feel like I will try to apply for citizenship here. It just feels like home." - Hsiao Yao, 23 


Hsiao Yao's willingness to try out new cuisines made him love Singaporean food.

2. From Philippines and living in Singapore for 10 years

"I came when I was primary four and was raised in a very Singaporean culture. I grew up with Singaporean food, TV shows and everything, so I see myself somewhat as a Singaporean.

Still, being Filipino, there is somewhat a target on my back. Although I know Singaporeans don't hate us, I feel like because you see us everywhere (we like to crowd around during weekends), it gets irritating for Singaporeans and they glare at us.

At the end of the day, I still see this as a better country to live in compared to the Philippines because of the better quality of life. I think, if given the chance, I would love to call this place my home." - Paul Dolor, 20


For Paul Dolor, living in Singapore for 10 years makes it feel like home.

3. From China and living in Singapore for three years

"I had a cultural shock when I first arrived in Singapore. The weather was very hot and humid compared to China as Singapore has only two seasons – hot or rain – compared to the four seasons in China.

Although I studied English in China, my classmates still make fun of the way I pronounce certain things, and I can't do much because that's the way I speak. I try to change but there is not much that I can do and it can be very frustrating.

I still cannot call Singapore my home because I feel like my home is still in China and there is a better life for me over there." - Irene Wang, 21


Irene Wang struggled to understand Singlish because it mixed English, Mandarin and Malay in one sentence.

4. From Myanmar and living in Singapore for three years

"I can't drive in Singapore, although I enjoy it, because it's really expensive to rent a car in Singapore and there is no way I can ever buy one. However, the public transport here is so good that I really feel like driving is not super important here.

Although living in Singapore is expensive and stressful, there are many different perks – such as safety. So, in the future, I don't mind becoming Singaporean for the better quality of life." -  Kaung Wai Lyn, 23


Kuang Wai Lyn feels that foreign students should do their best
because it is not easy to get that opportunity to go overseas.
PHOTO CREDITS: YOUTH.SG/DAVID YIP