18 Reactions Singaporeans Get When We’re Abroad

1. After a long chat about anything and everything, they compliment you with:

“By the way, your English is really good! Where did you learn?”

2. And then you tell them you’re from Singapore and they answer

“Wait, where is Singapore again?”

3. And even before you can tell them

“Oh I know, IT’S IN CHINA!”

(Why of course, I can’t even tell the difference)

4. And they follow with a mistake even Cartoon Network has made.

“Noooo, it’s in Malaysia!!!”

(Nice try)

5. “I’ve had the ‘Singapore Noodles’ at Chinatown!”

(Wtf is that?)

6. When they meet more of your Singaporean friends

“People from your country speak funny”


7. When they learn about Singlish

“Okay LAH, lets go LAH (winks)”

(Please, just stop the overemphasis on the LAH)

8. Their reaction when you tell them chewing gum is illegal

“Chewing gum is illegal in your country?!?!”



9. Wait till you hear about our drug laws

“You HANG people?!?!”

(Not me)

10. Or the prices of our cars

11. And to some (or most) of them we’re just a stopover

“I’ve been there once, to transit to Australia”

12. Or just a nice airport

“The airport is soooooo nice!”

(That’s it?)

13. At times, they ask you tricky questions

“What’s the capital of Singapore?”

(Not Orchard Road)

14. And by the way, our SQ girls have a really good reputation

“I heard that the girls on Singapore Airlines are gorgeous. They wear really tight skirts too. Is that true?”

(is that really all that you care about?)

15. But once in a while, you talk to people who HAVE been there


(Now we’re talking!)

16. “It’s so clean everywhere!”

17. “And safe!”

18. “People are so friendly. I love that everyone is your ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle'”

It’s always nice to hear people say good things about Singapore and you can’t help but feel slightly proud

And yes, our SQ girls are gorgeous.


photo credit: yakusa77 via photopin cc

Peace & Love,

Eileen x

40 thoughts on “18 Reactions Singaporeans Get When We’re Abroad

  1. This was pretty crap to be fair. Iv’e met so many singaporeans who claim their first language is english but the accent is so strong, its kind of an indian/ chinese mix and although they are close to native….most will never be there. Its a weird thing to describe but thats why you always get told your English is good, because you will never come across as a native speaker and we will always think you have a different first language. Even if you don’t.

    1. Everyone has an accent you nutjob. Maybe if you pull your head out of your arse enough, you’d actually start to observe the world around you a little better.

    2. Don’t be judging @palindrome. That’s not very nice.
      Accented English is still English, hence can still be good English! My mates and I have been told the same and I came from an education where English was not the main teaching medium – it is the perception that our command of english is expected to be bad. it’s just a matter of expectations, really Peace!

      1. Sorry, ‘Singlish’ is NOT proper English. It’s not just an accent, it’s poorly spoken English.

      2. Singlish which makes Singapore truly Singapore, just the same as China has Chinglish, M’sia has Manglish et cetera. It’s Singapore’s unique identity of colloquial english, a symbol of free speech. Moreover it is only used conversationally whilst standard english is being taught at school and is being used professionally.
        GladToleaveSillypore, I am sorry you have left Singapore but I am sure you are very happy where you are.And by the way, the comments were made specifically about accented English not Singlish. Please read properly before commenting.

    3. im Singaporean and my first language is english and i speak impeccably- to be honest- it just depends on your family, I’ve never learnt how to speak singlish and my family wouldn’t understand me anyway

      1. If you are Singaporean and if you live in Singapore, you may not speak singlish but you cannot deny that you have a Singaporean accent. Impeccably? HA, don’t flatter yourself -.-

    4. Erhm, accent has got nothing to do with the proficiency of a language yeah? Kiwis speak English as their native language, but they have got an accent as exotic as our friends in South Africa. AND, sounding “British” or “American” has got nothing to do with how well you speak English.

    5. Simply put it is racist to assume that a person who does not look white does not speak english as a first language or basically that they are incapable of speaking english. Even if it’s not someone’s first language at all, should it be so amazing that they speak well that you should comment on it?
      Why don’t people tell people who look white that their english is good? A lot of white people around the world don’t speak english as a first language or even at all. So why is this remark limited to people who look asian, middle eastern or african?

    6. Umm, if you talk to an American, they have an American accent. If you talk to a Brit, they have a British accent as same for Australia, New Zealand etc… Singaporean’s English (not Singlish) is perfectly grammatical and fluent and is our first language (mostly). For those who learned english as a first language, English is our native language. We just speak with an Singaporean accent, similar to how Brits speak with a British accent.

    7. English is a language that isn’t exclusive to Britain or even the US… If anything, the differences in accents and spelling between the Americans, the British and Australians illustrate just how ubiquitous it has become. For you to suggest that the language will ‘never’ be native to Singaporeans or that it sounds weird simply because of our accents only goes to show just how white-centric – if not racist – your thinking is.

      BTW: this is more or less the point that this post makes re: people like you. Get with it. This isn’t the 20th century anymore.

    8. Your grammar is atrocious! How does one ever presume English is your first language? Or, in your narrow-minded little mind, just because your English “sounds” good, one should assume your language is impeccable?

      By the way, sentence structure aside (your use of punctuation is pathetic), you should note the following:

      I’ve – not Iv’e
      It’s – stands for “It is”, which is not the same as “its”

    9. Most Singaporeans should be ashamed for calling English their first language. There is nothing wrong with being more fluent in another language, but to improperly claim English as a first language, is wrong.

      1. Could have sworn first language simply means a language you learnt and used during your formative years, or a language you are best at.

        I grew up learning English first, and speaking English predominantly in family, school and friends. It is true and no wrong in claiming English as my first language. The first language I learnt, the language I conduct my daily affairs in. I only learnt Mandarin and other languages at an older age.

        What’s with your issue with first language being English anyway?

        You are overly-opinionated about this.

  2. The question I hear most is, “Do you really get caned for chewing gums in Singapore?”

    1. Yes you do and it’s capital punishment, for swallowing instead of spitting out when caught, death by hanging.

      1. @It’s Serious Please get your facts straight. It is not a capital punishment for chewing gums in Singapore. Please refer to its Regulation of Imports and Exports Act (Chapter 272A, Section 3)

        As for the rest, having a different accent doesn’t constitute not having English as a first language. Within the UK, there are folks with very strong accent which some of us may not comprehend. Does that mean they don’t have English as a first language?

        So, for the certain Singaporeans who live abroad who thinks that they are better than everyone else, wake up. It’s better that you don’t associate yourself as a Singaporean. Yes, while we shouldn’t expect people from other parts of the world to know where Singapore is, they should try to learn more about other countries. I’ve met so many who only know about their country. In fact, I’ve met many people who don’t know much about their own country! In addition, while the “Good English-speaking” people claim that they have better English than the rest of Asia, many of them have problems writing & SPELLING! I’ve seen medical reports from a professional nurse who graduated from a university in an “English-speaking” country with endless spelling mistakes. The person doesn’t know the difference between room number “Sweet 25” from “Suite 25”

        Last but not least, this is a blog. From the looks of this blog, the writer intended for it to be a fun read. So, just have fun reading instead of criticizing others

      2. @EnglishSpeaker you might want to take a moment and realise that it’s serious was just being sarcastic.

    2. It’s a hefty fine for possessing it. Spit it where it doesn’t belong and you might get a vandalism charge if it damages government property.

      Singaporeans may remember Michael Fay who vandalized ten private cars and stole a STOP sign. In the eyes of the law, only the STOP sign was vandalism. He made good the damage to the cars but could not escape the cane for that charge. He was sentenced to ten strokes but received only one after President Clinton appealed.

      From a Singaporean.

      1. It has never been illegal to bring some into the country for personal use. I don’t why people are saying there’s a fine for possessing it.

  3. I’m sorry but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that your English skills are good judging from the way you have written this blog. Other than that, I hope you’re aware that us Singaporeans should not regard or expect everything to revolve around us, like knowing where is Singapore is exactly in the map. Come on, it’s a tiny arse country, if I tell you to point Belarus in the map, could you actually do that? All this post does is just sending me the vibe (or readers) that all Singaporeans are collection of pompous Asians and expect everyone to know every fact about our country.
    Singaporean who is living abroad.

    1. I think the whole point here is that this is a HUMOUR, not something for you to nitpick on and jump into conclusions like Singaporeans want Singapore to ‘know every fact about our country’ from just one post. C’mon, let’s all be optimistic Mr/Mrs Ranter. I don’t think you’ve read the blog enough though. I think the blogger is only doing her job – blogging and not be a grammar nazi.

      1. Exactly, the author is just voicing his/ her opinion. This could be an article about an 18 reactions an American get when he is in oversea by an American. Cheers!

    2. Agreed, this makes Singaporeans seem like the snobs of South-East Asia. It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that in an Asian nation people would speak a foreign language, and yes Singaporeans can be hard to understand especially when you’re Western and you’re trying to chime into a Singlish conversation about their favourite hawker in Geylang. A feeble attempt at humour, at best.
      Halfie Expat

  4. Loool. The blog was funny. With the pics. I’m african and I know where singapore is. And they’ve lot of millionaires, so I’ve heard and the government help them build houses.
    You all should chill and just laugh at the jokes mbok.

  5. I had a good laugh reading this! Personally, I’ve only met a few people who have commented, “You speak very good English for a Chinese!” when I was studying overseas, or when travelling, but not often enough to warrant any of these reactions, although I can see how it gets annoying after a while.

  6. Chewing gum is not illegal in Singapore. You can buy it at Guardian pharmacy. You can also bring it in for your own consumption from outside the country.

  7. I LOVE THIS POST!! I am a Malaysian who is studying abroad and I can relate to the relevant ones. Thank you peregrinatewithme for writing this 😀 I also LOL’ed at some of the ridiculous comments above. haha

  8. i can’t help but agree with all the above. I’ve experienced all of them when I backpacked. Your post is hilarious! I LIKE MANY MANY (Singlish). Some people I’ve told me I sounded american, while others could totally tell that it’s slightly different from America. I think we definitely have an accent of our own, just that it’s not well known to other people of the world (I guess) 🙂 Accent absolutely.. does not determine your command in English.

  9. Looking at point number 1… The writer of this post wouldn’t be surprised if a Westerner spoke Mandarin? In my opinion to express surprise or dismay in either situation can be equally insulting. The proper place for compliments on language use should be kept in the language classroom. If you’re not my language teacher, don’t compliment my Chinese.

  10. People adapt. I totally didn’t speak or read English until I was Primary four. That’s like 10 years old. But after some American Police Shows, hey, I was told I have an American accent, even before I went to America. So yah, it confuses people. Especially when they asked me how long I have been to America. And it further confuses people when my sister spoke American English which I and Americans do not understand….and she was there more then 2 years while I was there for a mere 2 weeks. And yes, the geography was a bit tricky…..even with actual geography teachers. But well, live and let live, I certainly wasn’t looking to be too big a target for anyone to aim a bomb on. Especially with all the food that can be eaten off this little island. BTW, you folks should research on the Singapore Law on doing bj w/o intercourse as being illegal, it totally boggles the mind of the foreigners.

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