8 Struggles that Every Travelling Singaporean Can Relate To

8 Struggles that Every Travelling Singaporean Can Relate To

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. We're talking about severe cravings for spicy food, Singlish-woes and the like!

Travelling overseas is always an exciting prospect! You’ll get to see new places, meet new faces and bring home new experiences. But like everything in this world, it won’t exactly be smooth sailing all the time. From the hassles of packing your suitcase to minor issues at the airport customs, there might be times when you wished that you’ve just stayed home.

But which of these troubles are the ones that can be related to the Singaporean in you? Here’s a list of travel woes that would get you nodding enthusiastically in agreement for sure!

1. Craving Singapore food and chilli

Ask any Singaporean abroad about what they really miss back home, and chances are, they will say something about FOOD in Singapore! Most of us were born and raised with Char Kway Teow, Nasi Lemak, Roti Prata and other local dishes, and it’s hard to stay apart from them for long periods of time.

Oh, and even worse if you’re craving chilli but find yourself in a place where spicy food is non-existent. Sometimes, there’s just no kick to the dish without chilli. Lucky are those with the foresight to bring that packet of chilli padi and chilli sauce along!

2. Losing that Singlish and accent so you can actually be understood

Travellers from Singapore are often thankful that English is their first language, but they will soon realise that communication in English can still be a problem. All thanks to the uniquely-Singaporean Singlish, and our accent – which sounds natural to us, but not to others.

When you speak Singlish in other countries, you might find yourself hard to be understood. In fact, your conversation partner might just wonder if you’re actually speaking English. Speak slowly, they say; You have a weird accent, they say.

It will dawn on you how strange-sounding Singlish is to those unfamiliar with it. So, you will try to transit to speaking “proper” English, which might feel weird (and maybe a little pretentious). But hey, whatever solves the communication problem!

3. Correcting misconceptions of our little homeland

Singapore’s a small little dot on the world map, and it comes as no surprise that many people have never heard of Singapore. Sometimes they have heard of it, but have no idea which part of the world it belongs to.

There are also those who have the wrong idea of our country, confidently implying that Singapore belongs to China. So you just take a deep breath and clarify for the hundredth time that no, Singapore isn’t part of China. And yes, English is your first language. 

Then there are travellers/locals who, quite impressively, have heard of Singapore, and start to ask if chewing gum is banned.

You just laugh nervously.

4. Overcoming that overwhelming need for Wi-Fi

To separate (some) Singaporeans with their Internet connectivity is like taking a fish out of the water! Many of us have grown dependent or even addicted (*gasp*), to being connected through social media and other platforms.  

No matter how exciting the trip is, there’s always the need to be WhatsApp-ing with your loved ones, posting status updates on Facebook or sharing photos on Instagram. Even worse – some of us just feel the need to whip out that phone and start scrolling the moment you have nothing to do. It’s just something to keep busy with. Sitting around, doing nothing just feels kind of awkward.

If data roaming is too expensive, you’ll need to scout out for free Wi-Fi. Put on that best smile when you ask the waiter, or demand the password the moment you check into your hotel.

Been there, done that.

Also Read: 10 Things Singaporeans Always Have to Explain to Foreigners

5. Being caught unprepared for cold weather

Singaporeans who have never experienced winter are usually ill-prepared on what to expect when travelling somewhere with cold weather. Sure, you can check the weather forecast, but damn, what’s the difference between –5°C and 15°C?

The confounding range of temperatures tend to leave us either over-packed with unnecessary thick winter clothing or unprepared for the freezing weather! The truth hits hard when we find ourselves in such a cold situation for the first time.  Well, it goes to show that you haven’t read this guide on buying winter clothes in Singapore.

Suddenly, the hot, humid weather back home doesn’t seem so bad anymore, huh…

6. Feeling POOR in expensive countries

While you’re having fun sightseeing around foreign countries, in the more expensive countries, you might be taken aback by the prices.

Holy crap, $5 for a can of Sprite in Venice, or $50 for a night in the cheapest hostel dorm room in Zurich? Suddenly, we miss the cheap and good stuff at home – from hawker fares to bus rides.

But of course, the reverse applies when you travel to more affordable countries, so don’t complain too much! Just cross the border to Johor and you’ll feel approximately three times richer!

7. Being worried about safety and security

If there’s one thing we take granted in Singapore, it’s how safe our country is. We can walk home alone at night without fear of getting robbed or kidnapped. The same, however, cannot be said when we’re abroad – not in all, but in some other countries. While Singaporeans are complacent, there are those who become overly paranoid, worrying about being a victim of theft or scams.

Make sure to keep watch on your valuables while you’re travelling and take extra precautions when you’re walking on dimly lit streets. No one wants to be the next Singaporean to be painted as a clumsy tourist on the front page of the paper! However, don’t go overboard to the extent that you can’t enjoy your holiday!

8. Missing the atmosphere back home

Image credit: Wikipedia

Whether it’s a short weekend getaway or a year-long adventure, you’re bound to miss some aspects of Singapore. You’ll realise how oh-so-Singaporean you are when you accidentally break the unspoken fashion rule of not walking around in bermuda shorts and slippers, and find yourself the only person in the restaurant busy snapping photos of your food.

You will probably miss the whole “Singapore atmosphere” that suddenly becomes so apparent. Seeing uncles drinking kopi at the hawker centre, ladies practising tai chi in the park, the very homely chatter in Singlish… they all make up the local Singapore experience, and they’re all gone. right-hand driving or riding the escalator on the left which felt so natural are not universal practices. You feel foreign.

Also Read: 21 Things Singaporeans Will Never Experience if They Don’t Travel

Have you encountered any of these struggles before?

Don’t let them prevent you from planning your next overseas trip! The exciting memories that you’ll make on your journey will definitely outweigh the cons. In fact, these struggles give us a sense of identity to latch onto when you’re abroad; the travelling Singaporean with his or her little own quirks!

About Author

Youliang Teo
Youliang Teo

When he’s not caught up with the real world, Teo Youliang dreams of simply grabbing a rucksack and setting off on an adventure of a lifetime. Whether it means venturing through unknown places, meeting new faces, or frustratingly figuring out a travel map for hours, you can be sure that there isn’t any other place he’d rather be. He’s also content with a hot cup of tea, and writing stories at the comfort of his home.


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