I always have a guilty pleasure of being extremely proud when someone asks me where I am from. Growing up, I was never one who was extremely patriotic, except during National Day where I felt so proud to be a Singaporean. As I began to study International Business and learning not just about business-related things, but also inter-cultural and cross-cultural issues, I began to fall in love with Singapore. Indeed, a culture only exists by comparison (Hofstede). When you start to study more about the different societies, cultures and countries, you begin you wonder how Singapore exists, and how lucky that I am part of this culture.
Falling in love with Singapore
I truly fell in love with Singapore when I started traveling. Thanks to International Business, I was traveling to new destinations every year, and I began to put what I study to use. They say that there is no education better than travels (Alex & Benjamin, EDHEC professors) and I can’t help but agree. Travel is more than just crossing out the countries on your scratch-away map, taking selfies in landmarks and going to the popular places. Travel is a lot more than that.
Intelligence is more than the ability to score an A in your exam papers and excelling in the academic setting (Ackerman). Intelligence range from intellectual, emotional and cultural. With travels, I honed my skills with social interactions, as they vary from culture to culture. I integrated my knowledge in cultural differences when engaging any cross-cultural activities. After several years, it becomes unconscious competence. With travel, I felt that I learnt a lot more than in the 4-walls (albeit the first hand understanding and knowledge from the classroom is required).
I used to dislike being a Singaporean because Singapore is rather small and boring. But I began to appreciate everything a lot more when I compare to other places. People ask me what is the Singapore identity or culture. 7 years ago, I would say “nothing. We have no culture.” But now, I would say the cultural harmony we have, the competitive nature thanks to meritocracy and extremely lovely people in the society.
In the past, when I hear the Singaporean accent in the airports before I depart, I cringe a little inside. However, right now, whenever I hear the accent abroad, I quickly turn my head to see the person speaking. Some say that home is not a place but someone calling your name. I think home is the voice that makes me feel warm inside.
Right now, I’m just incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have had. It’s an unearned privilege to be a Singaporean, to be a Chinese and to have all these opportunities.