Saturday, January 29, 2011

Say Uncle

I now have my first week of school under my belt and I’ve observed some new things: 
14.  In Singapore, they call cab drivers, street vendors, and complete strangers ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’.  Why?  I’m not really sure of the origins of this custom, but it is seen as a sign of respect.  I haven’t called anyone ‘Uncle’ or ‘Aunty’.  I think it’s kind of awkward.
15.  Everyone here is very polite and generous.  Singaporeans are always willing to help out.  When I’ve asked for directions to places, many times the person has just walked me there.
16.  This is just trivial, but they use a 24 hour clock most of the time so I switched my cell phone time so that I could get used to it.
17.  At the university, they don’t have a scheduled passing time, the professor (they actually call them ‘tutors’)  usually just ends about 10 minutes early.  I just thought that was kind of weird.
18.  THE LECTURES ARE SOOOO LONG! In Madison, we’re used to 50 minute lectures or the occasional power lecture of 1 hr 15 min, but here some lectures are 4 hours!!!  My longest is 3 hours.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it considering I have a hard time paying attention for 50 min.
19.  I’m pretty sure they have the cleanest bathrooms in the world.  It’s mind-blowing that they can be so clean all the time.  Except in the MRT stations, which I’ve heard can get pretty bad.
20.  They just have the strangest laws ever.  Some of the laws have a lot to do with common sense, but the Singapore government has their own special way to make sure you don’t break these laws.  Examples:
-It is against the law and you will be publicly caned if you don’t flush the toilet after using it.
-If you litter you will be fined $1000 and have to do community service.  If you litter 3 times then you have to wear a sign that says, “I am a litter lout”
-Selling gum is illegal, BUT it is not illegal to chew gum.  Singapore banned the sale of gum after authorities noticed the amount of chewed gum being stuck in subway stations and on cars.
-You can’t walk around your house naked.
-No hugging without permission or you could end up in jail.
21.  No one wakes up early.  What I’ve noticed is that people stay up very late and wake up late as well.  All their malls, shops, and businesses stay open until 10pm and they are all very busy right until closing.
22.  The light switches are opposite.  Up is off and down is on.
Every Wednesday night is Singapore is ‘Ladies Night’.  It’s so great.  Girls get into all clubs free (usually $25 cover charge) and drinks are free all night!  It’s not just one specific club, but it’s city-wide.  I experienced my first ladies night last Wednesday and it was a lot of fun.  Wednesday is one of the most popular nights to go out.
On Thursday, I attended a Lunar New Year Reunion Dinner for Chinese New Year because the Chinese population is so large in Singapore.  It was neat to see the celebrations.  They had dragon dancing, really different sounding music, and food.  The dragon dancing was really cool.  I took a video that I’ll post later.  I also got my name written in Chinese calligraphy!  The boy that went before me had the name Mohammed and when it was written in calligraphy it was so pretty, long, and intricate.  They were telling him what all the symbols meant and they were things like good personality and unique.  Then I got mine done and I was so excited to know what mine meant and they said “yours means open door”.  I didn’t think it was as cool.  In Chinese they read from right to left, which I thought was interesting.  They also gave out a lot of prizes like TVs, ipods, ipads, and a lot of other goodies.  I never win anything though, but it was still really fun!

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