Culture Quests

Singapore

Asia
Capital: Singapore
Languages: Mandarin, English, Malay, Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew, Tamil, Other Chinese dialects
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Singapore | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Singapore. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

Au Pairs in General

  • The idea of being an au pair is becoming common in Singapore.
  • Applicants from Singapore are motivated by international work experience opportunities.
  • The job potential of an au pair improves upon her return to Singapore.
  • Applicants do not have difficulty affording the program fees.
  • Young people in Singapore have the freedom of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are common.
  • Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores.
  • Nudity is not acceptable in public areas.
  • Singaporean youth are well travelled and very interested in gaining work and educational experience overseas, especially in the United States. They are responsible, adaptable, versatile, friendly, and eager to share their culture and experiences with people from different countries.

Child Care Practices

  • Common discipline techniques include verbal counsel and setting good examples.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Singapore.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling; working as Sunday school teachers, camp counsellors, or tutors; and babysitting.
  • Usually both parents share the childrearing responsibilities.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.

Driving Skills

  • Singapore drives on the left side of the road, so au pairs will need practice in the U.S.
  • Obtaining a driving license is a lengthy, difficult, and expensive process.
  • The minimum driving age is age 18.
  • Few young women apply for the driving test.
  • Many young female drivers in the 18 – 26 year old age group have obtained their license while studying in countries like Australia, America, or England.
  • The government in Singapore restricts the number of drivers and cars in Singapore due to it being such a small country.
  • It takes approximately one year obtain a license in Singapore.
  • The steps involved in obtaining a driving license in Singapore include:
    • Theoretical written test
    • Long wait times for a vacancy to take the road test
    • Practical test
    • Fees
  • The International driving permit is available one year after obtaining a license.
  • Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice driving using their parents’ car as the cost of buying a car is prohibitive for young people.
  • Most cars have automatic transmissions.

English Language Skills

  • English is spoken widely and taught from first grade, and English is the first language for many.
  • Students are expected to read, speak, and write English as proficiently as native English speakers.

Education

  • Approximately 35% of young women continue their studies at university.
  • Those who do not attend university seek employment.
  • The academic year in Singapore starts in June and ends in May.
  • The educational opportunities in the Untied States are very attractive to applicants, especially for those who can not afford to obtain higher education locally. There is a very strong emphasis on continuing education amongst Asian families, and most people will study if given the opportunity.

Health

  • The most common inoculations are for German measles, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B.
  • Most young women are inoculated and tested for TB (tuberculosis).
  • Singapore does not have a free health service.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis.
  • “Eating disorders” are not as prevalent as in the U.S.

Diet

  • Most young people have a liberal attitude toward food, especially when they are overseas. Traditionally, believers of the Islam faith do not eat pork or drink liquor; those of Hinduism and some Taoists/Buddhists refrain from eating beef. However, it is generally acceptable practice fro them to handle such meats should they need to cook these meats for others.
  • Vegetarianism is not common among young Singaporeans.

Religion

  • The most common religions in Singapore are Buddhism and Christianity.
  • Most young people in Singapore do practice their religion regularly.

Telephone & Internet

  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members will be able to take a message in English from a potential host family.

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