Singapore’s YouTubers Poke Fun at Locals and Expats

Published on June 30, 2016 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

WSJ ExpatThe Wall Street Journal‘s hub for expatriates and global nomads, recently published my piece on how small talk varies around the world. Here’s a snippet:

As many expats and students of foreign languages can tell you, humor is often the final frontier in cross-cultural communication. Jokes risk falling flat, are a nightmare to translate and have the potential to offend. But they can also be a way for expats to understand the cultural norms of their new home.

Local movies and television shows can help, but the grassroots nature of YouTube videos can be even better. On YouTube, the comedy is rougher, the jokes are more of the moment, and the creators are more accessible, often responding to viewers’ questions in the comments sections. And you don’t have to suffer through being the only person not laughing in a comedy club.

Despite Singapore’s reputation as a place that limits free speech, several homegrown YouTube channels offering self-parodying commentary on local topics have sprung up in the past few years. Among the first were Wah!Banana and Night Owl Cinematics (Ryan Sylvia), which were both launched in the second half of 2012, and currently rank as the second and third most-subscribed-to channels in Singapore. The original cast of Wah!Banana has since left to form TreePotatoes, which is now number five. With topics like What Foreigners Think of Singapore and 11 Types of Singaporean Colleagues, these YouTubers have created a space where both Singaporeans and expats can chuckle about Singapore’s unique, sometimes absurd, quirks.

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ

Expat Health and Beauty Woes: Goodbye Home, Hello Frizz

Published on April 23, 2015 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

WSJ ExpatThe Wall Street Journal‘s hub for expatriates and global nomads, recently published my piece on the physical challenges of living in Singapore as a non-native. Here’s a snippet:

This means that tried-and-true styles from other climates simply might not work in Southeast Asia. (Layers? Forget it.) A friend from Chicago declares that Singapore taught her to finally embrace her curls.

Color is another challenge, especially if you’re a bottle blonde like me. Asians obviously aren’t concerned with a blonde dye job appearing natural, so most stylists in Singapore seldom combine highlights and lowlights.

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ

So You Thought You Could Drive in… Singapore?

Published on March 12, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

WSJ ExpatThe Wall Street Journal‘s hub for expatriates and global nomads, recently published my piece on the appalling costs of owning a car in Singapore. Here’s a snippet:

It’s no secret that Singapore loves cars. The Formula One Grand Prix is a huge annual event drawing hundreds of thousands, and sleek sports cars often can be seen zinging down the city’s clean streets. But for a culture that celebrates cars, it’s shockingly expensive to own one here–both for locals and expats. For example, the price tag on a Kia Optima? About $147,000 Singapore dollars (or about US$107,700).

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ

Listen Carefully to MOM

Published on February 5, 2015 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

The Wall Street Journal recently launched WSJ Expat, their hub for expatriates and global nomads, and recently published my piece on obtaining work passes as a foreigner in Singapore. Here’s a snippet:

If you don’t have the luxury of being a dependent, the easiest way to gain permission to work here is, unsurprisingly, to apply for jobs with firms willing and able to obtain a pass for you. Since a company’s quota for foreign workers depends on the nature of its industry, the overall size of its workforce, and the ratio of foreign to local hires, even if you manage to ace all of your interviews, you may still find yourself unable to actually get to work.

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ

Singapore: ‘An Expat Life Starter-Kit, Tiny and Neatly Contained’

Published on February 4, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

Capitol Building

The Wall Street Journal recently launched WSJ Expat, their hub for expatriates and global nomads, and recently published my piece on expat culture in Singapore. Here’s a snippet:

Even lifelong expats like me don’t consider Singapore to be our final stop, partly because Singapore itself is still figuring out what type of country it wants to be. It’s hard to plant roots in a city you might not recognize by the end of a two-year contract. Construction projects are ubiquitous; familiar streets completely transform in mere weeks. Even the iconic Merlion statue (referred to as the “personification of Singapore”) was relocated in 2002 and renovated in 2012.

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ

On Finicky Expats in Singapore, and their Double Standards

Published on December 3, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal: Expat:

So — a little excited — The Wall Street Journal recently launched WSJ Expat, their hub for expatriates and global nomads, and has featured my piece! Here’s a snippet:

Rather than accept these aspects of Singapore’s restaurant culture as simply foreign, we tend to throw up our hands and declare that Singapore isn’t nearly as modern as advertised, forgetting that this glitzy city was a tropical backwater not even 50 years ago. Sure, every last dim sum hole-in-the-wall has passed the city-state’s rigorous health inspections and food poisoning is rare. But the appetizers arrived after the main course! The bathroom has squat toilets! They’re charging us for napkins!

Read the rest HERE!

WSJ Expat

WSJ