International Spotlight: Singapore


International Spotlight: Singapore

By: Melanie Woo | Communications & Marketing Assistant, International Co-op
  12074 reads

"To live well in the present, we need to know the past and have a sense of the future"
- Education Minister Hen Swee Kiat 

Ni Hao! Welcome to Singapore!

Capital: Singapore
Currency: Singapore Dollars (SGD)

Singapore is a thriving cosmopolitan society where people live harmoniously, and interaction among different races is commonly seen. The mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences, has given way to an abundance and variety of scrumptious food that this vibrant island is widely known for. Learn how to speak 'Singlish' and enjoy the hot, tropical weather!

Int'l Co-op Students' Experiences in Singapore

"Everything is great in Singapore in terms of food, so eat all you can: Chili crab, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Char Kway Tiao and so forth! But my most memorable moment was the actual opening ceremony itself – looking at how everything ran, and watching the expressions of people, such as the audience really enjoying the show."

Justin Lim, SIAT Major
Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010

Working in Singapore

Different cultures have different work etiquettes and nuances. When immersing in your co-op work term placement, it is important to adhere to the cultural expectations. The following information is from the Canadian Intercultures website. For more details, click here.

  • Attire: Dress code is formal and professional. Because of the tropical climate of the country, light fabrics are recommended for the business attire. For women, the dress code is formal suits (pants or skirts).
  • Greetings: In a usual workplace setting, senior colleagues should be addressed by their title and surname, unless asked otherwise.
  • Punctuality: Punctuality and absenteeism are treated in the same manner as in Canada. Meetings start on stated times and absenteeism is acceptable with prior notice and reasonable circumstances. People in higher positions are expected to be more responsible.
  • Motivators: Job satisfaction, commitment, money, loyalty, good working conditions, fear of failure are all motivating factors.
  • Hierarchy: Decisions are nearly always taken by the top manager and there is generally little empowerment of lower level staff to make significant decisions. The lower staff are the implementers. It is acceptable to meet with your immediate supervisor to talk about your work conditions and performance at any time, but it is unusual for the Singaporean worker to be bold enough to demand improvements to his/her terms of employment.
  • Qualities: Education and leadership skills seem to be of paramount importance in the Singaporean culture. Leadership skills are also very important. From the Singaporean perspective, if you (as an expat or foreigner) were brought into the company then that for them means that there was no local talent available to do the job, or that your expertise is what qualified you for that position.

Past Co-op Employers from Singapore

The following are some past Co-op employers that have hired SFU students. Check with the International Co-op office for other previous employers.

  • Singapore Youth Olympic Organizing Committee
  • Harper's Bazaar Singapore
  • Prebon Energy (Singapore) Ltd

Interesting Facts

  • Singapore is made up of a main island and over 60 offshore islands.
  • The national anthem of Singapore, "Majulah Singapura", is sung in Malay, although English is the official working language and most widely used.
  • The Singapore Night Safari is the world's first night wildlife park.
  • It is illegal to sell and be in possession of chewing gum in Singapore.
  • The Esplanade, Singapore's thriving arts centre, is affectionately called the "durian" because of its spiky cladding.
  • The world's highest man-made waterfall, standing at 30 metres, is located at the Jurong BirdPark.
  • Singaporean's Wireless@SG programme offers Wi-Fi in over 7,500 spots islandwide.
  • You can get directions to almost anywhere in Singapore with
  • The Merlion, a half-fish, half-lion beast, is a fitting symbol of Singapore. The "Singa" or lion represents the animal that a Sumatran prince saw which resembled a lion, and the fish is a tribute to Singapore's history as "Temasek," the ancient sea town.
  • Singlish is a Singaporean dialect mixing English with the odd phrase of Chinese, Malay and even Tamil. Singlish differs from English in terms of sentence structure, grammar as well as the frequent 'empty words' such as 'lah', 'leh', 'hor' and 'meh.'
  • Failure to flush a public toilet will result in a hefty fine.

Places of Interest

Traveling and exploring is part of the co-op experience! Here are some attractions and sights that are well-known and breathtaking. For more attractions, check out Singapore Expats and AsiaWeb.

  • Jurong Bird Park
  • Universal Studios
  • Sentosa Island
  • Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
  • Changi Village
  • Holland Village
  • Orchard Road
  • Little India
  • Fort Canning Park
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens

Beyond the Article

Interested in pursuing an international co-op work term? Find out more on the International Co-op website.

Read about Justin Lim's once-in-a-lifetime co-op experience working for the Singapore Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

Interested in working in Singapore? Visit these additional job sites:

Information for this article was taken from the websites below:

Selamat Jalan!

Disclaimer: International Co-op does not claim to be experts on the topic above. Given the complexity of the topic and the difficulties faced when generalizing a country, we understand that you may disagree with some of the content posted.

Posted on December 30, 2012