PRC student: Why it is a bad decision to study in Singapore instead of going straight to U.S.
Posted by temasektimes on August 28, 2012
When I was in the process of transferring to the US for further studies, I obtained much needed guidance from the people on this forum and would like to firstly, thank these kind people.
I studied in Singapore for 9 years, from Primary 1 to complete (a diploma in )poly. When I managed to transfer to the US, I realised the trap that was Singapore. I should have gone straight to the US to study instead of spending all that money in Singapore, as the returns (from the US) would have been much greater.
In 2001, like many others from my homeland who pursued the popular option of studying abroad, I came to the supposedly cleanest country in the world -Singapore.
Back then, gambling was prohibited in Singapore, chicken rice cost S$2.50, a comic book cost S$0.50, EZlink cards could not buy anything and S$900 could get you a month’s rent in a 3-room flat in Ang Mo Kio. S$1500 /mth could get you a 3-room condo in Bishan Park.
Most of the time, everyone saw Singapore as a transit point, as we were afraid of the great distances of Europe & the US, and disencouraged by the different cultures there that we may not have been accustomed to. Singapore was also seen as a predominantly Chinese country, which seemed more suitable.
What the Singapore government portrayed to the world about Singapore was also rather impressive. However, the standard of living in Singapore was that of a newly developed country, and it was very stratified, such that only a small proportion of the population was in control of the majority of the nation’s wealth. Ordinary citizens would have found it difficult to have broken out of their original social classes.
The hearts of Singaporeans are as small as their island, and it is difficult to foster deep friendships. They are calculative and even take note of the borrowing of S$0.20 for a meal. Of late, they have developed a better understanding of the increasing wealth of the mainland Chinese and like mercenaries, have reached out to take advantage of newly arrived mainland Chinese, hoping to profit from them. This is what I learnt in my 2nd year here. I was deceived more than 3 times in the process of procuring home rental, and was cheated of approximately S$10,000. Two of the offending charlatans were ethnic Chinese, the other was Malay. The most hilarious thing was that all 3 locals said the same thing when I threatened to call the police, [verbatim] “You call police lar, you think what, here not China, Singapore police help Singaporeans!’ And it was indeed the case when the police told me I could sue them but they (the police) could not do much. I was only 15, 16 then.
Many people assume that a Chinese majority in Singapore equates to having family abroad but when you treat the local Chinese like family, they treat you like sh*t. In fact, the local Chinese are most guilty of discriminating against mainland Chinese. They think themselves superior, especially those from the older generation, but most have not been highly-educated. It is tragic that they descended from farmers/labourers and had to flee to Nanyang (Singapore/Malaysia) due to the war, and now look down on others.
Regarding education, the system in Singapore in undoubtedly not bad compared to the rest of Asia. If you are systematic and obedient, Singapore suits you as there is no need for creative thinking here. The system grooms mechanistic workhorses with some knowledge, with most of the working popularion having little clue about what they are really doing. If you are rather opinionated then please don’t come here, for you will find it torturous. When I was in Sec 3 I had a Chinese form teacher (from mainland China) who brought me to join a Chinese oratorical contest. It was after the contest that I realised I had been changed by this oppressive society, and had lost my opinions. My Chinese teacher also said something in passing that sparked an ephiphany, “Someone like you should have never come to a place like Singapore.”
Now, why is it that mainland Chinese students in Singapore usually top their class?
This may sound rude, but it is the brutal truth. Singaporeans are really daft. Asking a simple question elicits a bunch of puzzled looks from them, that I felt like smashing them with a book. Also, they do not see the good in others. When a mainland Chinese student gets excellent grades, they get mostly sour grape sentiments, such as the unfairness of the mainland Chinese students being older than them by a few years, etc. I may be older than my peers by a year. If I trumped them in Chinese or Maths, I would not have much to comment on, but if even someone like me can repeatedly obtain As for English, what rights do these assh*les [verbatim] have in criticising others?
More infuriatingly, when news of mainland streetwalkers rounded up by the local police hit the headlines, my sister’s teacher had the audacity to warn my sister in class to study hard and not end up like the arrested mainland streetwalkers. How dare the teacher tell a 9-year old such a patronising thing! Especially when my sister trounced the majority of Singaporeans in her studies. Many Singaporean students speak like frogs in the well when they think of Singapore as the heaven that poor Chinese escape to. Little do they know that Singaporeans themselves are even poorer than they could imagine. Yes, although many people from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen acknowledge that Singapore is prosperous, I do not distinguish between the various cities in China, but am only stating a fact.
Singapore’s food. Despite it being a food paradise (everyone in the world self-claims to be a food paradise anyway) all the food there is bland, with lashings of soy sauce, chicken stock, bits of lard and fried into something ‘Singaporean-style’. The markets and food courts sell almost the same dishes – chicken rice, kuey teow, pork mince noodles, Hokkien noodles, Loh mee, mixed vegetables rice, etc. All this is nothing compared to the snacks of China.
I personally like chicken rice best, although I feel like vomitting after having eaten 8 years of it.
Next, an analysis with an economic perspective.
It was only after coming to the US that I realised what it really meant to be a developed country. A room cost S$700 per month in Singapore, a tiny room which does not have an ensuite toilet. For the same price in the US, you can rent a 50 sq m masterbed room. Carpeted with your own bathtub and walk-in wardrobe. Some rooms in Singapore are in fact about the same size as walk-in wardrobes in the US (Los Angele). US$1300 can get a 200+ sq m mansion with a pool in Las Vegas or Arizona.
Eating out in the US costs more (US$10/meal average). However the amount of food per serving in the US is twice that of the mixed vegetable meal you can get in Singapore. The food stall uncles in Singapore also tend to give very little meat and are very stingy about it. In contrast, in the US, they stuff the plate full with food.
I worked very hard in a 5* hotel in Singapore to earn some money part-time for a measly S$7/hour. In LA, the minimum wage is US$8/hour and tipping is compulsory (10-20% of the bill). This is entirely given to the service staff and nobody in the US declines tipping us. An 8-hour day gets you about US$64. In contrast, some restaurants in Singapore do not even allow their staff to keep the hard-earned tips they have earned.
Education costs more in the US, with most university housing costs US$50,000 a year (without a scholarship). US universities are very generous in their scholarships; you can google it to find out more. I have not applied for one so I am not sure. However, as long as I maintain a GPA of 3.6 (easily achieved in the US) application should not be an issue.
To save money, consider state colleges such as SANTA MONICA COLLEGE， PASADENA COMMUNITY COLLEGE etc， living costs start from US$25,000/year. The first 2 years of foundation courses are the same as any other colleges. You can then seek a transfer to a better college from your 3rd year onwards. This is a worthwhile investment, as the US certificate is much more valued. If you compare a certificate from University California Berkeley & National University of Singapore, which do you think will get you a better-paying job? Especially in a society such as Singapore’s, which values foreign certificates more.
You will be spending the same amount of money, working the same types of part-time jobs, so why choose Singapore? Please think carefully my dear comrades!
Some mainland Chinese overestimate the difficulties of studying in Europe and the US and see Singapore as the easy option. This is wrong. Visa application may seem complicated but you will not be rejected. The situation has improved from years ago. Europe and the US are looking to Chinese students to boost their flailing economy. If there are any (Chinese) students from Singapore wishing to transfer to the US, please look for me. I have been to the US for 2 years and can try my best to answer some of your questions.
* The above was first posted in Mandarin in a Chinese forum and translated by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.