Right-click above to a PDF booklet on settling in
YOUR GUIDE TO LIFE IN SINGAPORE
Your Guide to Life in Singapore
FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
National Integration Council
Getting to Know
2 You Are Here
4 The Singapore Story
19 PLEASANT STAY 25 KNOW YOUR
Settling In is your Guide to Life in Singapore.
You’ll find lots of helpful information on everyday
living in Singapore and tips to help you get settled
in Singapore quickly. You will also get information
on everything from student life, to helpful hints
on eating out, and discovering more about how
to be a good neighbour.
16 Fit In
6 Importance of English
8 Common Terms in Singapore
20 Being Gracious
24 10 Tips for Gracious Living
36 Eating Out
37 Ordering Coffee and Tea
Play Your Part
Caring for Our Environment
Respecting Race, Religion
44 Respecting Others
Travelling Around Singapore
On the Buses
Take the Train
Pedal or Walk
8 Tips for...
Different Faces, One Spirit
Singaporean Chinese Culture
Singaporean Malay Culture
Singaporean Indian Culture
and Other Cultures
BE A GOOD
46 Tips on Being a
49 Around the Neighbourhood
49 Fitting In
50 Youth Organisations
52 Helping You Adjust
YOU ARE HERE
Singapore lies at the southern tip of the
July 21: Racial Harmony Day
Latitudes: 1º 09´N and 1º 29´N.
Longitudes: 103º 36´E and 104º 25´E.
Land area: 714.3 sq km
August 9: National Day
One main island and 63 offshore islands.
First Friday in September: Teachers’ Day
Take a moment to understand your
new home. These are the important
numbers, facts, figures and places
that shape Singapore today.
• Lim Chu Kang
The national language
are the four
English is the
language of business,
government and is used
in schools. English is the
common language among
the four main ethnic groups.
• Pulau Ubin
• Ang Mo Kio
• Ang Mo Kio
• Paya Lebar
• Toa Payoh
• Jurong West
• Jurong East
• Jurong Island
• Toa Payoh
33.3% 14.7% 18.3% 10.9%
(Statistics Singapore, Census of Population 2010)
Bras Basah.Bugis Precinct
• Marine Parade
• Marine Parade
• Marina South
• Pasir Ris
• Bukit Batok
• Boon Lay
Bukit Timah Hill
• Sungei Kadut
• Choa Chu Kang
• Bukit Panjang
(Statistics Singapore, 2012)
First Sunday of July: Youth Day (following
Monday is a scheduled school holiday)
Climate: Hot, sunny, tropical. Two
monsoon seasons (December to
March and June to September).
Government: The President is the
Head of State while the Prime Minister
appoints and leads the Cabinet.
Currency: Singapore Dollar
International country code: +65
Internet country code: .sg
As Singapore develops, we continue
to grow our arts and heritage scene.
This arts and heritage district in the
heart of the city is home to museums,
historic places of worship and conserved
buildings, as well as arts and theatre
schools where up-and-coming Singapore
artists are trained.
With its main branch at Victoria Street,
the National Library Board operates
a network of 24 Public Libraries
(including three regional libraries)
located conveniently across Singapore.
Booklovers can browse and read books,
attend free talks and programmes,
as well as access a large electronic
catalogue of e-publications.
Bugis Village/Kampong Glam
Located to the east of the city, Bugis
Village and Kampong Glam are
heritage-rich locales, with traditional
shophouses offering night bazaars,
trendy restaurants, coffeehouses, and
clubs. Learn about the history of the
area by visiting the Malay Heritage
Centre in Kandahar Street, or take a
heritage trail around the area visiting
historic spots such as the 190-year-old
THE SINGAPORE STORY
Singapore had been part of various regional kingdoms until Sir Stamford Raffles founded
a trading post in Singapore in 1819, thus establishing our modern roots. Then, many early
immigrants came mainly from the Malay Peninsula, China and the Indian sub-continent.
After gaining independence in 1965, Singapore rapidly developed into a modern, industrialised
nation. These are some of the key events in our history.
Formerly known as Temasek, the island becomes a trading centre
that was at different times part of the Srivijayan Empire, as well as the
Malacca and Johor Sultanates.
The founder of modern Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, lands in
Singapore and signs a treaty with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the
Temenggong to set up a British trading post here. In 1824, Singapore
became a British settlement formally.
Raffles founds the Singapore Institution (now known as Raffles
Institution) in 1823, starting education in Singapore under British rule.
Singapore falls to the Japanese on 15 Feb 1942 during World War II
and comes under Japanese rule. On 12 Sep 1945, a surrender ceremony
was held at the Municipal Building (now known as City Hall), marking
the end of the Japanese Occupation.
In 1959, the first General Election to choose 51 representatives
to Singapore’s legislative assembly is held. The first Government is sworn
in and Lee Kuan Yew becomes Singapore’s first Prime Minister.
Singapore merges with the Federation of Malaya, alongside Sabah
and Sarawak, to form Malaysia, marking the end of 144 years of
After a difficult merger with Malaysia, Singapore separates and becomes
a sovereign nation.
National Service is introduced in Singapore to build up our ability
to defend ourselves after the British withdraw their military forces
As Singapore develops its economy, education adapts to support a
skilled workforce for industrialisation and lower unemployment.
Bilingualism is introduced in schools, making English the official
language for national integration and practical purposes.
In 1980, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is formed with
the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University.
As Singapore prospers, education shifts focus as vocational training is
revamped, and streaming is introduced in schools. The Gifted Education
In 1991, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is inaugurated.
Singapore becomes a major economic power in Asia and is a hub for
many industries. Education transforms to keep pace, emphasising
national education, creative thinking, collaborative learning, and
infocomm literacy. Specialised schools, such as the NUS High School
of Mathematics and Science, the Singapore Sports School and the
School of the Arts, Singapore, are introduced to offer greater diversity
IMPORTANCE OF ENGLISH
There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Mandarin,
Malay and Tamil. Each of the four languages is equally important
under our Constitution.
Although English is widely spoken, when Singaporeans gather in informal settings,
we often speak in a mix of English and the vernacular languages. This is Singlish,
a localised form of English we have evolved over our history. While it may not be
recognised as a formal language, it is useful to understand some of the common
terms below that you may encounter in your daily interactions here*:
ALAMAK! LAH AUNTIE/UNCLE
Respectful address for an older woman
or man, respectively.
“Just do it lah” (Please do it now);
“No need lah” (There is really no need).
LAI DAT ALSO CAN? “Yes, definitely.”
“Is that acceptable?”
DOHWAN OH, IZZIT? “No, thanks.”/”I don’t want it.”
“Oh, is that true?”
DON’T PRAY PRAY AH!
SO HOW? “Don’t mess around!”
“So what do we do now?”
KIASU (怕输) SHIOK! A general expression of dismay
For historical reasons, Malay is the
national language of Singapore. Our
National Anthem, Majulah Singapura
(Onward Singapore), is sung in Malay.
Here are some options you can explore:
Besides our mother tongue, most
Singaporeans also speak English. It is
widely used as the common language
to allow the different communities to
communicate with one another, and
is the language used in government
offices, schools, businesses and other
public places. So if you’re in a mixed
group, be sure to use English
• Visit the Speak Good English Movement
which gives useful tips on speaking
English, and has a helpful smart phone
There are plenty of opportunities to help
us improve how we speak English.
• Sign up for an English course at the
People’s Association onePA portal
(one.pa.gov.sg), or at a private school.
• Borrow books in English from any of
the National Library Board’s 25 public
• Ask a neighbour or friend for guidance.
Practise and improve your English
A general term used to describe the
highly competitive nature of many
Singaporeans. From a Chinese dialect
expression that literally means
“fear of losing”.
Used at the end of the sentence to
emphasise a point.
Originally from the Punjabi word,
shauk, used to express satisfaction
or that something is great.
You can refer to existing online dictionaries to learn more about Singlish:
* extracted from the Singapore Tourism Board’s Singlish Guide @ http://www.yoursingapore.com/content/traveller/en/
COMMON TERMS IN SINGAPORE
COE. ERP. Community club. Over the years, we in Singapore have developed some
unique terms that are used in everyday life. Here are some explanations for common
words that you will read about and hear when in Singapore, as well as a guide to how
they are referred to in the four official languages.
A card used for withdrawal of cash at ATM machine and electronic payments.
Chinese: 提款卡 Malay: Kad ATM Tamil: தானியக்க வங்கி இயந்திர அட்டை
Chinese: 拥车证 Malay: Sijil Hak Memiliki Kenderaan (COE)
Tamil: வாகன உரிமைச் சான்றிதழ்
A centre/club run by the Peoples’ Association to promote racial harmony
and social cohesion and for the public to gather for activities.
Chinese: 民众俱乐部 / 联络所 Malay: Kelab Masyarakat / Balai Rakyat
Tamil: சமூக மன்றம் / நிலையம்
An electronic toll collection scheme to manage traffic by road pricing.
Tolls are collected through ERP gantries erected on busy roads in
Chinese: 公路电子收费系统 Malay: Bayaran Elektronik Jalan Raya (ERP)
Tamil: மின்னியல் சாலைக் கட்டணம்
There are ten major expressways in Singapore which are usually referred
to by their three-letter acronyms:
•Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) • Kranji Expressway (KJE)
•Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) • Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE)
•Central Expressway (CTE)
• Pan-Island Expressway (PIE)
•East Coast Parkway (ECP) • Seletar Expressway (SLE)
•Kallang-Paya Lebar • Tampines Expressway (TPE)
Chinese: 快速公路 Malay: Lebuhraya Tamil: எக்ஸப
A contactless smart card mainly used for the payment of transport fares
Chinese: 易通卡 Malay: Kad EZ-link Tamil: ஈசி-லிங்க் பயண அட்டை
A system of payment through direct bank account deductions in Singapore.
Chinese: 财路转帐服务 Malay: Giro Tamil: ஜைரோ வங்கி கட்டண முறை
Chinese: 政府组屋 Malay: Flat Lembaga Perumahan dan Pembangunan (HDB)
Board (HDB) flats Tamil: வீடமைப்பு வளர்சச் ிக் கழக (வீவக) அடுக்குவீடுகள்
Kampong refers to a village. In the past, villagers would help one another
on a spontaneous basis out of friendship for the good of the entire village.
The kampong spirit fosters trust and friendship through helping and
sharing with one another.
Chinese: 甘榜精神 Malay: Semangat Kampung
Tamil: கிராமிய உணர்வு (கம்பத்து உணர்வு)
The MRT is a rapid transit system which forms the major component
of the local rail network.
Chinese: 地铁 Malay: Sistem Gerak Cepat (MRT)
Tamil: பெருவிரைவு போக்குவரவு (ரயில்)
A nationwide infrastructure that enables consumers to make purchases at
retail counters using their ATM or NETS enabled cards.
Chinese: 电子转帐服务 Malay: NETS
Tamil: மின்னியல் பரிமாற்றக் கட்டமைப்பு (நெட்ஸ)
A coupon for payment of parking charges at public parking places
designated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and HDB.
Chinese: 停车固本 Malay: Kupon Meletak Kereta Tamil: வாகன நிறுத்தம் கூப்பன்
Most major housing estates are conveniently connected to the city
and other parts of Singapore by a network of Mass Rapid Transit
(MRT) trains, buses and taxis.
A little patience, courtesy and planning will help make for a
smoother journey, whichever mode of transport we choose.
Gracious behaviour makes it a pleasant
bus ride for all. Here are some
• Avoid taking up seats reserved for
the elderly and pregnant women.
Offer your seat to someone who
needs it more. Let’s think of others:
don’t occupy more than one seat.
• Eating, smoking and drinking
(including plain water) are not
allowed on buses, trains and taxis,
• Waiting times: During peak hours,
trains will arrive at the station in
about 2 to 2.5 minute intervals.
– Weekday mornings:
between 7.30 am and 9.30 am.
– Weekday evenings:
between 5.30 pm and 7 pm.
• On the platform: Do stand behind
the line markings in front of the
platform screen doors. This will
allow passengers to get off the
train easily so that we can board
the train faster.
For a more comfortable journey,
travel earlier or later.
• Operating hours: Singapore’s public
buses connect to all major bus
interchanges and MRT stations.
– From 5.30 am to midnight daily.
• Boarding and alighting: Queue to
board/exit a bus. Tap the ez-link
card on the reader at the entrance,
then move quickly to the rear, so
that other passengers can board.
Tap again on the card reader
located at the exit door just
before you get off.
• Passengers should respect personal
space, to avoid making others feel
uncomfortable. Try not to stand
too close to, push or jostle other
the platform. Do queue and wait
your turn to cross the gates.
• Peak hours:
• Waiting times: Range from 5 to
15 minutes, depending on traffic.
• Refrain from talking or playing
TAKE THE TRAIN
ON THE BUSES
• Fares: Fares on public buses in
Singapore are charged according
to how far you travel. Rather than
pay cash, many Singaporeans use
an ez-link card, a smart contactless
stored-value card, to pay fares on
buses and trains. These cards can
be bought from the Transit Link
offices at most bus interchanges
and MRT stations.
to ensure that the vehicles and
stations are clean and safe for
The MRT directly connects most major
public housing centres to the city and
other areas. Another rail system,
known as the Light Rapid Transit (LRT)
system, runs within selected HDB
housing estates and links residents
to the MRT station in their estate.
• Operating hours:
From 5.30 am to midnight daily.
• Entering the platform:
Commuters tap their ez-link card on
the electronic fare gate readers and
use the escalators/stairs to access
• On board: Once aboard, move to
the centre of the cabin to give space
to other passengers. Special seats
near the entrances are reserved
for the elderly and those who need
assistance: avoid sitting in these.
Also do not sit on the floor of the
cabin or lean against train doors.
Listen for announcements and note
that food, drinks and pets are not
allowed on the trains.
• Alighting: Watch out for the gap
between the platform and the
train, when boarding and alighting
from the train. When riding on the
escalators at the MRT, commuters
should keep left so that those who
are in a hurry can walk past us on
Taxis are another popular way of
travelling around Singapore.
• Fares: All taxis in Singapore are
metered. Fares are based on a flagdown rate and the distance travelled.
Sometimes, there is an additional
• Hailing a taxi: Taxis can be flagged
down along roads, at taxi stands, or
by making a phone booking. When
hailing a taxi, look out for the colour
of the LED sign mounted on the
vehicle roofs. Here’s a guide:
• Where to flag taxis: In the Central
Business District, taxis cannot be
flagged and are not allowed to drop
off passengers along roads plied by
buses between 7.30 am and 8.00 pm
from Mondays to Saturdays, except
on public holidays. In these areas,
taxis can only be flagged at
designated taxi stands/stops and
driveways of buildings.
• In the taxi: Most taxis cannot
take more than 4 passengers and
passengers are required by law to
fasten their seatbelts. Smoking,
eating and drinking are also not
allowed in taxis.
What the sign says
Is the taxi available?
“TAXI” lit with a green LED light
“HIRED” lit with a red LED light
“ON CALL” lit with a red LED light
The taxi has a prior booking and
is not available.
“CHANGE SHIFT” lit with a green
The driver is going off shift and
the taxi is not available.
PEDAL OR WALK
Other than taking public transport,
we can also cycle and walk to our
destination. There are many green
parks around Singapore, and most
are now connected to one another by
walking and cycling paths collectively
known as the Park Connector
Network. The interactive maps at the
NParks website (www.nparks.gov.sg)
help cyclists plan their journey.
– In a park, keep to paths
designated for cyclists, and be
mindful of pedestrians and rollerbladers on other paths.
• Cycle safely: Follow traffic
regulations. Here are some tips:
• Walk safely: Adhere to pedestrian
safety regulations, such as these:
– Ride on the left, and never in the opposite direction of traffic.
– Cross roads only at designated
pedestrian crossings, zebra crossings and overhead bridges.
– Avoid cycling along busy roads, especially during peak hours.
– Bicycles must be equipped with front and rear lights for riding
– Wear a safety helmet at all times.
– Jaywalking is an offence that carries a fine in Singapore.
– Keep an eye out for the traffic on the roads at intersections and in public car parks.
TIPS FOR ... A
Get useful public transport info
on the go. Visit websites such
as www.publictransport.sg or
www.mytransport.sg for more
information and download the
MyTransport App (available for
iPhones and Androids). SBS
Transit offers a mobile app, IRIS,
that shows what bus services
are nearby, their routes, and
estimated arrival times.
Top up ez-link cards to pay bus
and MRT fares. Card readers
show how much value is left on
What’s the best exit from the MRT
station or bus interchange? Read
vicinity maps and prominentlyposted signs to find the right
If the train/bus should break
down, do not panic, listen for
announcements and follow the
Think of other passengers –
give up seats to those who need
it more, and move to the centre
or rear of the vehicle or train.
Missed the bus or train?
Be patient. Another will be
Short journey? Walk or ride a
Write down the address, building
and block or house number of
the destination and show it to the
driver when taking a taxi. This
will help the driver plan the
8 TIPS FOR HOSTEL LIVING
Singapore’s education system is one of the most modern and
progressive systems in the world, where critical thinking,
creativity and teamwork are encouraged. Understanding some
of the unique aspects and norms of student life in Singapore
helps make it a pleasant learning environment for all.
Reflecting our diverse, multicultural
society, it is common to find students of
different genders, races and religions
studying and interacting together in
Singapore’s schools, colleges, universities
and other educational institutions. In
most schools, it is normal for male
and female students to sit side-byside in classrooms, and to interact
in social settings outside of class.
It is important to embrace this culture
of openness and sharing. It helps to
make our learning more effective
because we are able to share and
exchange ideas with others.
Making friends with other students
in school helps us understand one
another better and integrate into society.
Students are encouraged to mix with
both international and Singaporean
students of different races and religions.
English is the medium of instruction
in class, and we are encouraged to
use English when responding to our
teachers, speaking to fellow students
Getting used to living in a new country
can be challenging, especially if we have
never lived away from home. Here are
some tips for those who are staying in
FIND YOUR WAY AROUND
When you first move in, explore your surroundings to become familiar with them. For example, find out where the hostel supervisor’s office
is, and the location of other amenities such as shops and eating places.
BE OPEN TO SHARING WITH OTHERS
Many hostels offer shared accommodation. Get to know your fellow hostelites and respect one another’s private space.
Keep valuables and personal items locked when you are away from
OBSERVE HOSTEL RULES
Hostel operators may post rules and regulations governing residents’ behaviour and their responsibilities. Observe and respect these rules.
or when interacting with other
members of society, so that we can
all understand one another better.
Bilingualism is also emphasised in
Singapore’s education system. This
allows us to keep our cultures and
traditions alive. Singaporean students
are encouraged to speak both English
and their Mother Tongue, or the
language spoken by their family and
ethnic group. The most common
Mother Tongues for Singaporeans
are Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
As with other aspects of its society,
Singapore’s education system is based
RESPECT HOSTEL PROPERTY AND FACILITIES
Treat hostel facilities such as
washing and vending machines, kitchens, and other common spaces with care. This allows other residents to use these facilities, too.
KEEP THE NOISE DOWN
Other hostelites may want to catch up on sleep or revise for a test the next morning. Respect their needs by keeping the noise down.
Although we may wish to be comfortable, we should be mindful of
the sensitivities of our fellow
hostelites and avoid dressing inappropriately as it could be
distracting and giving inaccurate impression.
Many hostels encourage active participation in sports and hall activities to foster cohesion among residents. Participate actively in such activities, to connect with the fellow residents.
on meritocracy and transparency.
Achievement in school is measured
not just in terms of good academic
grades, but also includes other factors
as well. Our active participation
in co-curricular activities, our
behaviour and character, and other
criteria are also taken into account.
Committing plagiarism or cheating
in examinations are deemed serious
offences, and can result in expulsion.
Students in primary, secondary schools
and junior colleges in Singapore are
required to wear a uniform and badge to
foster discipline and school identity. Male
students should keep their hair short,
while female students should follow the
rules set by the school on hairstyle, in
order to keep their appearance neat.
Each school day starts as students stand
to attention for the singing of the National
Anthem and school song, and recite
the National Pledge with their right fist
placed over the left side of their chests
as a gesture to symbolise loyalty to the
nation. At public tertiary institutions,
this may take place at special occasions,
such as National Day celebrations.
GETTING SETTLED IN
Here are some useful tips on
accommodation and travelling around
Singapore for international students:
• Finding a place to stay: Students in
Singapore have a variety of options for
accommodation. You can stay in oncampus halls of residence or hostels,
or opt to stay in a private hostel. Older
students may rent a private apartment
or HDB flat. (www.contactsingapore.
• Healthcare: There is a wide range
of medical services available to
students. These include private
clinics, polyclinics as well as oncampus clinics at universities.
• Transportation: Students are entitled
to concessionary travel on buses, MRT
and LRT trains. Full-time matriculated
undergraduates/diploma students from
a government or government-aided
tertiary institution can apply for monthly
concession passes, starting from $45.
More information on types and rates of
passes is at www.transitlink.com.sg
MAKING NEW FRIENDS
A great way to get immersed in student
life and interact with Singaporean
students is to join one of the many
school-based uniformed groups,
societies and interest groups catering
to all kinds of activities from sports
such as football and tae kwan do; to
chess and photography clubs as well
as acting and debating societies.
Singapore’s education system encourages
the holistic development of students,
including being responsible to family,
community and country. There are many
volunteerism opportunities available
to students, who can use their time
and energy to help others and give
back to society and the less fortunate.
Besides volunteer projects organised
by schools, the National Youth Council
also has many initiatives such as Young
Changemakers and the Youth Expedition
php/key-initiatives). Alternatively, you
can visit the SG Cares portal (www.
sgcares.org.sg), which provides many
opportunities to volunteer and contribute
to local as well as regional causes.
WORKING WHILE STUDYING
Other than student work placement and
internship programmes that are part of
the requirements of academic courses,
it is important to know the rules when
it comes to working while studying
in Singapore. Full time matriculated
students at Singapore’s universities are
allowed to work during vacation time
without a work permit. During term time,
students may only work up to 16 hours
a week. It is an offence for international
students to work without the proper
authorisation. For other categories of
students and for more information about
the criteria and work pass requirements
for working while studying, please
visit the Ministry of Manpower’s web
page at www.mom.gov.sg/foreignmanpower/working-in-singapore/Pages/
LOCATION: SHOPHOUSE 5-FOOT-WAY, NARROW PEDESTRIAN PATH
On a pedestrian walkway, escalator or five-foot way outside shophouses,
keep to the left and walk in single file if in a group. The same goes when
we are on a path that is shared between pedestrians, joggers and cyclists,
for example, in a public park. This lets others pass us safely.
Exploring our city is a great way to
get to know us. Being gracious will help
make it an even more pleasant stay.
In this section, we highlight many
typical situations we may encounter
throughout the day, and suggest
appropriate responses for
us to consider.
LOCATION: ATM/BUS STOP/SERVICE COUNTER
We should queue for our turn, whether we are
waiting to enter a restaurant, using the ATM or
boarding a bus or MRT train. Do not push, or form
two queues where there is only one.
RESPECT PERSONAL SPACE
LOCATION: PUBLIC SPACES/OFFICES/ATM
Stand a short distance apart when speaking to others in public, or when in a
meeting, or even when queuing to use a public facility such as the ATM machines.
KEEP IT DOWN
MAKE SPACE FOR OTHERS
LOCATION: BUS/TRAIN/PUBLIC LIBRARY
LOCATION: PARKS/SHOPPING MALLS/LOBBIES/BUS STOPS
Speak softly when using the phone or talking with friends. Keep our voices
low in places such as hospital wards and public libraries and aboard
public transport such as buses and trains.
When sitting on seats or benches in public areas, place shopping bags, books and other
items on your lap or on the ground so that others can sit down, too.
LOCATION: MRT STATION ESCALATOR/SHOPPING MALL ESCALATOR
Keep left when standing on an escalator. This gives way
to people who need to walk past us on our right.
SHARE A TABLE
When eating at hawker centres and
food courts during peak hours, consider
sharing your table with others. It’s a
great way to make new friends too!
SAY “THANK YOU”
Don’t forget to say, “Thank you” to show
our appreciation. Here’s how to say it in
Singapore’s other official languages:
Mandarin: xièxiè, 谢谢,
pronounced “syeah syeah”
Malay: Tamil: 22
Terima kasih, pronounced
It is easy to be gracious. All we need
to do is take a few simple steps each day
to show that we are thinking of others.
These are simple ways that we can
make someone’s day and have a great
Admit mistakes (we are all human)
– and apologise when wrong.
Don’t forget to say “thank you”!
Life is so much happier when we
appreciate the people around us.
Be courteous on the roads
Give way to other cars that are
signaling – and don’t hog the
Be generous with our greetings
Schedule sensibly and don’t keep
To those of other cultures and
Put yourself in the other person’s
shoes – think of how you would like
to be treated in a similar situation.
Be welcoming and make the first
move to get to know others.
Listen & don’t interrupt
Be slow to speak – give others
a chance to express themselves
Greet others with a smile –
it brightens up our own day.
To those in need – offer help
proactively in everyday situations.
There’s always time to make
Adapted from the Singapore Kindness Movement (kindness.sg)
DIFFERENT FACES, ONE SPIRIT
In Singapore, the people living next door to us may be of different
races and faiths and have different customs. We encourage
tolerance, respect and acceptance between communities, and
this helps make Singapore special.
In this section, discover the many different groups of Singaporeans
and learn about their customs, food, and cultural practices. Find
out what to do when visiting their homes, for example, for a party
SINGAPOREAN CHINESE CULTURE
WHAT TO DO/EXPECT
WHEN VISITING A
Singaporean Chinese are mostly
descended from immigrants from the
southern Chinese provinces of Fujian
and Guangdong. Like other groups in
Singapore, the Chinese have contributed
much to Singapore’s politics, education
and social development. Well-known
Singaporean Chinese include Lee Kuan
Yew, the country’s first Prime Minister;
pioneering educator Gan Eng Seng who
set up the Gan Eng Seng School and Thong
Chai Medical Institution; and philanthropist
Tan Tock Seng, who donated money to build
the Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
• Leave your shoes at the door.
• Avoid wearing black when visiting a home during the Chinese New Year.
• Respect for elders is valued. We should greet the older members of the family with a friendly “Hello uncle!” or “Hello auntie!”.
• Avoid giving knives, clocks or watches as gifts, as these are said to bring ill fortune.
Local Chinese practise a multitude of
religions such as Buddhism, Taoism
Besides Mandarin, most Singaporean
Chinese also speak English, and may use
dialects when speaking to their family and
elders. The most common dialects heard
in Singapore are Hokkien and Teochew,
while many also speak Cantonese, Hakka,
Hainanese and other regional dialects.
Over time, the Singaporean Chinese have
developed unique meanings and usages
for some Chinese words. The same
Chinese word used in the Singapore
context may have a different meaning
in China or elsewhere.
• The hosts may invite us to stay for a meal. It is nice to bring simple gifts, such as fruits.
• We usually greet our hosts with a simple handshake and smile.
A New Year tradition that is unique to
the Chinese in Singapore and Malaysia
is yusheng, lo hei, or Prosperity Toss.
We may be invited to join in the tossing
of this colourful raw fish salad that
has vegetables, peanuts, crackers and
other condiments signifying prosperity
and luck. Auspicious words will be
uttered as the ingredients are added
and the salad is tossed.
The Chinese New Year is an important
celebration. Singaporean Chinese homes
are lit with lanterns, and decorated with
auspicious words. Families come together
for reunion dinners, and areas such as
Chinatown are full of people shopping
for New Year goodies such as traditional
biscuits and barbequed pork, as well
as enjoying the festive atmosphere. It is
customary for older, married persons
to give their parents, children and single
relatives hongbao, or red packets containing
money symbolising luck. Other festivals
include Qing Ming, where ancestors are
remembered; Duanwu Festival, or Dragon
Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival,
when people exchange mooncakes and hold
Singaporean Chinese have a variety of
customs for different aspects of life such
as festivals, weddings and funerals. For
example, many Singaporean Chinese
families will not sweep their homes on
the first day of the Chinese New Year
SINGAPOREAN MALAY CULTURE
The Malays have lived in Singapore since
before colonial times, and their ancestors
migrated to Singapore from many parts
of the Malay and Indonesian archipelago.
Malay contributions to Singapore are
evident in our national and cultural
heritage. Well-known Malays in Singapore
include Yusof bin Ishak, Singapore’s
first President; Zubir Said, musician and
composer of our National Anthem and
Iskandar Jalil, Cultural Medallion
recipient and renowned potter.
Malays in Singapore are guided by their
faith in Islam. Children are taught to read
the Quran, and learn to pray from an early
because it is seen as sweeping good luck
and fortune away. It is customary to give
Mandarin oranges, a symbol of prosperity,
to signify New Year well-wishes. The
oranges are presented in pairs, and must
be given and received with both hands.
age. It is an obligation for male Muslims
to perform the congregational Friday
afternoon prayers at the mosques. During
the Islamic month of Ramadhan, Muslims
observe fasting and abstinence from dawn
to dusk for one month.
Most Singaporean Malays speak English
and Bahasa Melayu, one of the four official
languages in Singapore.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri marks the end of the
Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan. On
this day, younger members of the family
will visit and seek forgiveness from their
elders. In the weeks before Hari Raya
Aidilfitri, many people go to Geylang
Serai, an area traditionally associated
with the Malays. There, people shop for
all their preparations for the festival.
Wearing colourful traditional clothes and
serving traditional Malay cuisine are part
of the celebration. Men wear the Baju
Melayu, a shirt for a top, a sarong, worn
over a pair of trousers, complete with a
cap or songkok. Women wear elegant
baju kurung or long dresses to mark the
occasion. Other key Islamic events include
Hari Raya Haji, which marks the end of
the haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca; and the
Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
Singaporean Malays have many customs
associated with their daily lives. For
example, Malay weddings can last for
more than a day, ending in the actual
wedding or bersanding (enthronement).
If we live in a public housing estate and
have Singaporean Malay neighbours, we
may be fortunate enough to experience
a traditional wedding held at a void deck.
A feast will be organised, and the couple
will arrive escorted by musicians beating
the kompang – a traditional percussion
instrument. The kompang is an expression
of joy and celebration used to welcome
important people/guests. Music, food and
festivities follow, as guests take turns to
bring their well-wishes to the couple who
are seated on a dais.
Many Singaporean Indians are Hindus,
while others may practise Islam,
Buddhism and Christianity. Other
representative faiths include Sikhism
and Jainism, among others.
WHAT TO DO/EXPECT WHEN
VISITING A SINGAPOREAN
• We should leave our shoes at the door as we enter.
• As we are entering a Muslim home, we should not bring food and drinks that are non-halal. ‘Halal’ is an Arabic word which means lawful or allowable. According to Islam, any food or drink
which falls under this category is permitted for consumption by Muslims. Those which cannot be consumed by Muslims are said to be non-halal, such as the meat
of animals that have not been slaughtered according to Islamic rites, flesh of swine including pork, intoxicating drugs and alcoholic
• A good way to identify food that is suitable to be shared with our Muslim neighbours and friends is to look for the halal certification or logo on the packaging.
Tamil is recognised as one of the four
official languages of Singapore. Other
languages that are spoken by Singaporean
Indians include Punjabi, Malayalam, Hindi
• During the Muslim fasting month, our Malay neighbours will be fasting.
Avoid bringing gifts of food and drink, and do not eat when in their home, out of respect.
Deepavali is the most important festival in
the Hindu calendar. It falls in the month of
October or November. On this day, Hindus
celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
The celebrations begin weeks ahead in the
Indian quarter of Little India, which comes
alive with colourful lights and traditional
arches. Roadside stalls sell terracotta
lamps, flowers and other traditional
decorative items. Celebrations centre
around family reunions; most Indians will
draw beautiful rangoli, decorations made
of flour and rice, on the floor outside their
homes. Other festivals include Thaipusam,
where processions of participants carry
the kavadi as an act of penance; Pongal,
a harvest festival; and the Tamil New Year
Singaporean Indians are proud of their
heritage and often wear traditional
clothes. Women will sometimes wear
beautiful sari made of embroidered silk,
cotton and other materials for weddings
and religious festivals, while men may don
open-necked kurtas or long shirts and
trousers made of cotton.
You will sometimes see Singaporean
Indian women wearing a mark, pottu,
on their head. A red dot means that a
woman is married while single women
tend to wear pottu with different designs
• As with other ethnic groups, do show respect to older members
of the family.
• Generally, it is considered improper for men and women, not related by
family ties, to come into physical contact. Instead of a handshake, a simple nod of the head and smile will suffice when greeting our hosts of the opposite sex.
Indians have brought many different
cultural practices to Singapore. The
predominant group are the Tamils, who
hail from Southern India. Singaporean
Indians, like the other groups, centre their
lives around their families and community.
Indians in Singapore have been active in
all walks of life, from commerce and arts
to politics and education. Well-known
Singaporean Indians include S R Nathan,
our sixth President; Thamizhavel G.
Sarangapani, a Tamil writer and founder
of local Tamil newspaper, Tamil Murasu;
and V Sundramoorthy, local football hero.
SINGAPOREAN EURASIAN AND
WHAT TO DO/EXPECT WHEN
VISITING A SINGAPOREAN INDIAN HOME
Many other groups such as the Eurasians,
Armenians, Jews and Arab Muslims call
• As with other communities, we leave our shoes at the door when we enter.
The Eurasians are a unique community in
Singapore who trace their ancestry from
both Asian and European forefathers.
Eurasians are predominantly of the
Roman Catholic or Protestant faith,
and adopt Western dress and diet.
Singaporean Eurasians speak English,
but a small number continue to speak
Kristang, a patois of Portuguese and local
• Greet the older members of the
family. A handshake, nod or smile
is usually enough.
• Some Hindus do not eat beef. Hence, we should avoid offering food that contains beef or beef by-products to Indian friends if we are unsure of
their dietary restriction.
languages. Well-known Eurasians include
Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares, Singapore’s
second President; former Cabinet Minister
Edmund W. Barker; and Dean of the
S. Rajaratnam School of International
Studies (NTU) and former diplomat
Major Christian festivals such as Easter
and Christmas are key dates in the
Eurasian calendar, and families will go to
church, exchange gifts with one another
and serve traditional Eurasian dishes such
as Devil Curry, a fiery meat and vegetable
dish; feng, a pork and liver curry; and
• Some households may practise
strict vegetarianism. Vegetarian
food will be served, and we should
not offer gifts of meat.
COMMON HOLIDAY GREETINGS
There are 11 public holidays celebrated in Singapore every year, reflecting our diverse
national and ethnic heritage. Here are some of the more common ones, and the
greetings associated with each.
Chinese New Year
Varies with the Chinese
Mandarin: gōng xǐ fā cái,
Mandarin: xīn nián kuài lè,
English: “Happy New Year”
Varies with the Hindu calendar
Tamil: தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்தத
English: “Happy Deepavali”
Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Varies with the Islamic calendar
Malay: “Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri”
“Happy National Day”
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR NEIGHBOURS
There is much more to discover about the
culture, religion and customs of the many
people we meet in our neighbourhood, as
well as their contributions to Singapore.
Here are some ways we can learn more.
VISIT A MUSEUM OR CULTURAL EXHIBITION
There’s nothing like a visit to one of
Singapore’s museums to discover more
about our rich heritage:
• Singapore History Gallery of the
National Museum of Singapore
• Asian Civilisations Museum
• Peranakan Museum
• Learn about Singapore’s experience of World War II at the Battle Box at
The Malay term ‘peranakan’ means
‘locally born’ and refers to descendants
of the Chinese who settled in Malacca
and around the coastal areas of Java and
Sumatra, as early as the 14th century. In
the 19th century, the Peranakan Chinese
migrated to the busy ports of Penang
The Peranakan culture is considered
part of Singapore’s living heritage
today and the community is often
associated with the Katong area in
Singapore.They are famous for their
unique blend of Malay and Chinese
cultural practices, dress, marriage
customs and food.
TAKE A HERITAGE TRAIL OR VISIT A HERITAGE CENTRE
As you walk along these trails, learn about
the fascinating stories behind Singapore’s
different ethnic groups:
• Chinatown (www.chinatown.sg)
• Malay Heritage Centre
• Indian Heritage Centre
• Heritage Trails of the Civic Centre,
Kampong Glam, and Little India organised by the National Heritage Board (www.nhb.gov.sg)
Useful heritage and history websites to visit:
• Experience sights and sounds
of Singapore’s past at Yesterday.sg
• View online resources, books and
information about Singapore’s history
at the National Library Board
NO TOUTS ALLOWED
Touting is forbidden in Singapore’s public
hawker centres. Avoid them and order
food direct from the hawker you have
chosen and do not pay more than the
From neighbourhood hawker centres and food courts to roadside
open-air restaurants and coffee shops, there are many places to
eat out, and many different kinds of food to enjoy in Singapore.
Just like other places, there are norms we all should observe to
enjoy a pleasant meal.
Singapore is home to both Muslim and
non-Muslim communities. Islam
requires that Muslims consume halal
food, or food that does not contain
ingredients such as pork and alcohol,
and is prepared from meat slaughtered
the halal way. Muslims who want to
know where they can find halal food
in Singapore can visit the Halal Food
com). When eating at a hawker centre,
halal food is usually found at Malay,
Indian Muslim stalls and stalls that
carry the halal logo.
ORDERING COFFEE AND TEA
Peak periods at hawker centres and food
courts are during breakfast (7:30 to
8:30 am); lunch (12:30 to 1:30 pm); and
dinner (6:30 to 7:30 pm).
EXPECT TO QUEUE
We sometimes have to queue for our food.
While it may take some time to be served,
a rule of thumb is, the longer the queue,
the better the food we can expect to enjoy.
Remember, good things come to those
ORDERING YOUR FOOD
Food prices at public hawker centres and
food courts are fixed, so do not bargain
over the price of the food. Most hawker
stalls have their menus and pricing clearly
posted on signboards. Tipping is not
expected in Singapore.
During non-peak hours, stallholders
may often tell customers to find a seat
and their food will be served to them at
their table. During peak periods, or with
popular food stalls, customers may have
to collect their food at the stall.
There is nothing like ordering a hot cup of coffee or tea to start the day. Most
hawkers speak English, but Singaporeans have a colourful and wide variety of
ways of ordering their favourite morning cuppa. Often, we use the Malay words,
“kopi” and “teh” for “coffee” and “tea” respectively. Here is a quick guide to help
you. To order tea, we substitute “teh” for “kopi”.
KOPI SIEW DAI
Black coffee with sugar
Black coffee without
sugar and milk
Black coffee with
Coffee with condensed milk
but less sugar
Black coffee with
Iced coffee with
Two cups of coffee
EAT AND GO
Think of others when there are many
patrons at the hawker centre. We should
finish our meal and move on so that
others can have a chance to eat as well.
If we want to continue our mealtime
conversation over coffee or tea, head
on elsewhere and let other diners take
Don’t spit out bones or half-eaten food
onto the table or floor of the hawker
centre. This attracts pests and creates a
health hazard. Use tissues or the provided
crockery to dispose of food waste.
RETURN YOUR TRAYS
Although some hawker centres employ
attendants to clean tables and clear
food trays, it always makes it easier for
other diners if we help return the trays to
designated cleaning areas. It also helps
keep the environment clean.
KEEP THE TOILETS CLEAN
Most public hawker centres have toilets
where diners can wash their hands and
freshen up after a meal. Some charge a
small entry fee to help maintain them. Do
remember to keep the toilets clean and
dispose of tissue and other rubbish in
designated litter bins.
PLAY YOUR PART
Singapore’s unique multicultural harmony and stability are valued
by its people. The principles of the rule of law and fairness to all
are key pillars of our society. All of us can play our part to ensure
continued peace and stability by following laws that are designed
for individual and public safety.
CARING FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT
With no natural resources, Singapore
takes the cleanliness of its air, water
and greenery seriously. Actions which
pollute or endanger the environment
are frowned upon.
We are required to dispose of our waste
in dustbins that are located around our
neighbourhood, parks and on the city
streets. Litterbugs face fines and repeat
offenders may also be issued with a
Corrective Work Order (CWO). The CWO
requires litterbugs to spend a few hours
cleaning a public place, for example,
picking up litter in a park.
To keep our environment healthy for all,
there are many areas in Singapore where
smoking is not allowed, including airconditioned buildings, restaurants, pubs
and discotheques, except in designated
outdoor smoking areas. The ban also
applies to other public spaces, including
covered walkways, common areas of
residential buildings, pedestrian bridges,
and more. Cigarette butts should be
thrown in the ashtray of a dustbin.
Other behaviour such as spitting in
public and not flushing public toilets are
not accepted. We should be considerate
and keep this a pleasant environment
We should play our part to help protect
the environment. For example, if
someone is seen littering, ask the
person nicely to refrain from doing so,
and encourage him to pick up the litter
and bin it. Everyone can take ownership
of the environment and help keep it
clean, by speaking out against littering
whenever it happens.
In small and busy Singapore, it is important to be gracious to one another. Having good
relations with our neighbours make for more pleasant living in our compact society.
Adhering to common rules of social behaviour, respecting others’ property and space,
and practising gracious social behaviour can go a long way in making it a safe and
enjoyable place for all – visitors and Singaporeans alike.
FOLLOW ESTABLISHED PROCEDURES
Within the public and private sectors in
Singapore, there are well-established
procedures that ensure that transactions
proceed smoothly and that you are served.
Trying to secure services through offering
special favours will get one into trouble
with the law in Singapore.
Many laws are strict for a good reason.
Drug trafficking, kidnapping and murder
carry the death penalty, while other
serious offences such as armed robbery
carry long prison sentences. Other laws
protect the environment, maintain racial
and religious harmony and govern the
proper use of computers and the Internet.
All residents of Singapore must adhere to
our laws. Here are some aspects of our
laws to take note of.
RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
Posting of flyers or notices advertising
services or sales at places such as bus stops,
lift landings, void deck walls and pillars of
covered walkways is not allowed. Deliberately
destroying, damaging or defacing public
or private property such as walls, cars and
windows is considered vandalism. Stealing
plants, birds and animals from public
gardens, parks and nature reserves is a
crime. These offences carry fines, jail terms
and other penalties.
KEEP IT PRIVATE PLEASE
Public decency is valued in Singapore,
hence, public nudity is not allowed. All
who live in Singapore are also expected
to dress appropriately in public.
We should not get into fights with others,
nor use vulgarities or make obscene
gestures at someone else. These offences
are punishable by law.
RESPECTING RACE, RELIGION AND NATION
It is common to see people of different races and religions living, working, studying and
playing side-by-side in Singapore. Freedom of religion is protected by our Constitution.
Although we are of different backgrounds, we are able to achieve a harmonious society
because we value the importance of accepting and understanding one another.
It starts with respecting and appreciating one another’s culture, religious practices
As Singapore is a compact city, we need
to share many of our public spaces. It
is common for the practices of different
races and religions to exist side-by-side
in one locality. For example, public
housing void decks can be used for private
events such as weddings or community
functions such as block parties.
Find out more about the many different
cultural and religious practices in
Singapore in the section, GETTING TO
KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY.
We celebrate Racial Harmony Day on July
21 each year. Schoolchildren reflect on,
and participate, in various activities that
emphasise the importance of maintaining
harmony in our society.
Singapore’s turbulent racial history is a
constant reminder to those who live here
that all communities should show respect
to one another in word and deed, in our
private and public spaces.
The Sedition Act and Maintenance
of Religious Harmony Act preserves
harmony among the different races and
religious groups, by preventing individuals
from inciting ill-will, division or hatred
among different groups, or among those
from the same ethnic group.
One thing that must be observed in
Singapore is not to direct ethnic insults at
a person of a different race or religion.
We should also not insult or defame the
ethnic and religious practices of other
groups, our national symbols and other
In Singapore, discussion and mediation
are encouraged as ways to solve
differences and disputes.
Holding a public talk, assembly or
procession to support a cause or mark
any event requires a Police permit. Details
of the Police permit can be found at the
Singapore Police Force website. (www.spf.
RESPECTING OTHERS ONLINE
Besides talking face-to-face and over the phone, we may also use the Internet to
communicate with friends, or share our thoughts and opinions through social media
platforms such as blogs, discussion forums, Twitter and Facebook.
When communicating online, we are encouraged to be mindful of what we say and how
we say it. This helps keep cyberspace safe and accessible for all. Responsible online
behaviour is an important aspect of respecting one another.
KEEP OUR POSTS CLEAN
When expressing our thoughts online,
we should avoid offending the feelings of
other races, religions and nationalities.
Engaging in online discussions or making
insensitive racial or religious blog
postings that anger and offend others is
punishable by law. There have been cases
where individuals have been jailed under
the Sedition Act for making racist remarks
about other communities in online
discussion forums and blogs. We should
remember that everything that is posted
online is visible to others. For tips on using
the Internet and media responsibly, please
visit the Media Literacy Council’s guide
on being a smart digital citizen at www.
TIPS ON BEING A
Good neighbourliness is important and helps maintain a
pleasant living environment for everyone. All it takes is a little
thoughtfulness and acceptance. Here are some useful pointers:
GET TO KNOW OUR
• Take time out to talk to and greet
• Be open. Invite our neighbours over
during major festivals, or bring gifts
when we visit their home.
–Ensure that pets, such as dogs, do not make a disturbance, especially at night, and keep dogs on a leash when walking them. Note that cats are not allowed as pets in HDB flats.
Don’t hang out laundry to dry in stairwells,
landings or the playground. Use the
provided laundry hanging sockets or
drying racks in the home. Ensure that
laundry is not dripping wet so that it does
not wet clothes which are hung out to dry
by neighbours who live on lower floors.
Most high-rise apartments have rubbish
chutes within the apartment or in the
common area on each floor. Garbage is
cleared daily. Do not leave garbage along
the corridors and bag it before throwing
it. Chemicals and other substances that
can cause a fire should not be thrown
through the chute. Avoid forcing oversized
items into the chutes as they may cause a
blockage and become a fire hazard.
Dispose of bulky items at Bulky Items
Disposal bins at your void deck, or call
your Town Council.
Keep lifts clean for all to use.
• Think of our neighbours and be considerate by taking simple steps:
–Remember that as homes are close
to one another, we can often be heard even with our doors shut. Keep the television and radio volume down, especially at night. Speak at a lower volume when on the phone or with friends.
• Don’t store items along the common corridor – keep them at home. Besides blocking access, they are a fire hazard!
• Beware of killer litter! Never place
objects such as plant pots in a dangerous manner, such as on window
sills. Doing so risks a fine. Throwing objects from a window is a serious offence and carries a jail term and a fine. The Housing and Development Board (HDB) may repossess the
flat or terminate the tenancy, if it is
a rental flat.
• Check plants regularly for stagnant water. As Singapore is a tropical country, the threat of mosquito-borne dengue is real, and stagnant water can encourage mosquitoes to breed.
• Be open-minded and understanding of other cultural practices. For example, some neighbours may burn joss sticks or incense at home as part of a religious ritual. This is all part and parcel of living in a multi-cultural society.
• Be respectful of prayer items, religious symbols and shrines displayed by
neighbours at the entrance of their
homes. These include Christian crucifixes, Buddhist altars and sockets for burning joss sticks.
• Useful links for those staying in HDB estates:
AROUND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
Develop a sense of pride in our neighbourhood and help care for it through little
Void decks are common, shared spaces.
Not only do they provide seating and
shelter for residents to mingle, they
may also be used from time to time
for weddings or funerals, and even
grassroots functions such as Block
Parties and National Day celebrations.
Keep the gardens, paths and parks
in your estate clean and green for all.
Do not pluck fruit or flowers from
shrubs and trees, and bear in mind
notices reminding you to pick up pet
waste when walking them.
–Find out more about Town Councils
–Learn about the various services provided in your estate by the HDB at www.hdb.gov.sg
HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL
Every year, usually in August, many
Singaporean Chinese pay respects to
the dead during the Chinese seventh
lunar month. During the Hungry
Ghost Festival, as it is known, the city
and HDB neighbourhoods come alive
with a variety of activities. Believers
burn incense sticks and present their
offerings in the form of prayer, fruit,
meat, rice and cakes. Tentages may
be set up in open fields during this
period for live wayang (Chinese
opera) and getai (pop music
roadshows) performances. So as
to avoid creating inconvenience for
other neighbours as well as fire
hazards, designated incense burners
placed at different parts of the
neighbourhood should be used for
the burning of offerings and incense
during this and other cultural or
It can get lonely in a new country so it is good to look for ways to keep occupied and
meet new friends. There are many socialisation and recreational opportunities that
can be enjoyed, right in our neighbourhood. Here are some ideas to try:
FIND YOUR PASSION
To learn a new sport or art form,
take language classes, or just find
opportunities to network and bond with
neighbours and other members of the
community, a good first stop is the CCs
and Residents’ Committees (RCs)
under the People’s Association (PA)
The CCs and RCs organise many
community programmes, activities
and courses throughout the year in
neighbourhoods around Singapore.
There are also residents’ tours
and day-trips to places of interest
Visit the onePA portal (one.pa.gov.sg)
as well as PA’s mobile portal
(www.OurCommunity.sg) and iPhone
app, for more information.
Other than neighbourhood activities
and clubs, there are many national
associations and online platforms
that serve the interests of the youth in
Singapore. They offer opportunities for
learning, interaction, networking and
volunteering. Some examples include:
National Youth Council (NYC)
A division of the People’s Association,
the NYC comprises members from the
youth, media, arts, sports, corporate
and government sectors. It encourages
youths to become active and involved
in the community through funding,
research and a variety programmes
and activities, both in Singapore and
overseas. Flagship activities include the
SHINE Youth Festival, a showcase of
youth talent during Youth Month in July,
and Youth Expedition Project, a series
of service-learning projects that teach
youth leadership skills.
People’s Association Youth Movement
With 42 years of youth outreach
experience targeted at youths aged
12 to 35, the PAYM is a leading youth
organisation that is led by the youths
for the youths. A total of 101 dedicated
Youth Executive Committees (YECs)
drive programmes and events in the
Connexions International (CXi)
A non-profit organization, Connexions
International promotes interaction
between internationals students and
new residents to build relationships
with Singaporeans through cultural
orientation, exchanges and assistance,
language classes and other activities,
such as festive celebration, cultural
introduction, outings etc. Volunteering
opportunities are also available at CXi.
A youth charity organization, Heartware
Network engages youths between 14
and 35 years of age to think beyond
themselves, to be proactive in service,
and to champion the community in
what they want Singapore to be. Its
Youth Bank recruits youth volunteers to
connect with them and engage them in
meaningful community service.
The online portal for youths, Youth.
sg provides relevant youth-oriented
information on culture, lifestyle, events
and interests, and a comprehensive
directory of links to content and
resources for youths to browse.
HELPING YOU ADJUST
As locals, they are more familiar with life
here and can always give useful pointers.
There are also many public helplines to
call if help is needed urgently.
Troubled? Depressed? Need help? The
Samaritans of Singapore 24/7 hotline is
manned by volunteers who can listen
and help: 1800 – 221 4444
Settling into a new country and school
can be challenging, with new classmates,
places, sights, and food to get used to.
Help is always available to make it a little
easier to adjust.
The best way to adjust is to talk to a
Singaporean – it could be your fellow
classmate, a student leader, or a teacher.
Facing an emergency? Here are some key emergency numbers to keep handy:
• Police Emergencies Hotline: 999
• Police Hotline: 1800 255 0000
• Singapore Civil Defence Force emergency ambulance/fire brigade Hotline: 995
• Non-emergency ambulance services: 1777
Need more help beyond what this handbook can provide? Here are 9 useful links:
Visit the Ministry of Education (MOE)
website for information about Singapore’s
education system, admissions,
employment and other matters relating
to international students.
One.pa.gov.sg and www.pa.gov.sg
These People’s Association portals
promote social cohesion by providing
information on programmes and activities
that help with interaction and bonding
Get more details about the Tertiary
Student EZ-Link card, which is issued to
all eligible full time students.
The Immigration & Checkpoints
Authority website provides information
on immigration matters for Singapore
Citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents
Send your parcel or letter at any of
SingPost’s network of post offices and
Self-service Automated Machines
The Official Gateway to Singapore has
a wide variety of useful information
Find directions, explore maps and get
useful alerts with this interactive map.
The National Integration Council (NIC)
promotes and fosters social integration
among Singaporeans and newcomers.
The NIC encourages and supports
collaborative social integration efforts
among the public, private and people
sectors. Log on to the NIC website to find
out more about its initiatives and efforts.
We would like to thank the following agencies for their contributions
to this handbook:
Eurasian Association, Singapore
Housing and Development Board
Land Transport Authority
Ministry of Communications and Information
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
Ministry of Education
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore
National Heritage Board
Singapore Kindness Movement
Singapore Police Force