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Friday, November 16, 2007

International Marriage - Cultural Shocks And Adjustments##

Cultural shocks continued for many years when living in Singapore. A plate of chicken rice is served with so much rice, so much meat but very little vegetables - only a few thin slices of cucumber and tomato. In Japan, maybe the proportion of meat versus vegetable is reversed.

Sales And Services Quality

At department store sales girls stood behind counter, bear-footed with no shoes. I had only a traveler’s check and when they took it for verification, it took them a long time to come back. As I was trying to take out T shirts from the rack, the sales girl immediately tried to put it back. As I touched the clothes on the hangers, the same thing happened. To me, this action was saying “I don’t want you to mess up my work. Don’t touch anything!” Often they were also not familiar with the products they were selling. No advise, no help for customers. Just an unfriendly glare, especially when I decided on no-buying. Having used to Japan’s customer service, I was often put off by Singaporean’s sales personnel’s manners and unprofessional behaviour.


Moving around with public transport was equally challenging. Asking a bus driver for direction and I thought he spoke in English but I could not understand. This inability of understanding English later on occurred even at NUS tutorial times with my students. I could not understand their English, neither did they with my English. I always thought my English is good as I am in the profession of simultaneous interpretation. I then learned there was Singlish and vowed secretly to myself that I would never let myself be corroded by it. However after 25 years, now I speak it beautifully! Whenever Singaporeans say to me, “Your English is very good!”, I don’t know if I should take it as a compliment or not. My son spent 6 years in American School and he switches back and forth between American accentuated English and Singlish depending on who he talks to on the phone

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