Singapore Welcome Guide

Useful Tips For Your Internship

Welcome to Singapore!

Your internship experience is one of the most important pieces of the foundation you are laying down for a successful career.

Since the professional world can be very different from the university life, it’s important that you have an understanding of some of the differences.

Use These Tips To Help You Make The Most Of Your Internship.

  1. Clarify expectations about the internship, both the employers and yours. It’s a good idea to agree upon your job responsibilities in writing.

  2. Take advantage of the transition time at the beginning of your internship and ask a lot of questions. 

  3. Meet regularly with your supervisor to ensure that both of your expectations are being met. 

  4. First impressions are very important, as is maintaining good ones. It’s important for you to dress, speak, write, and generally behave like a professional.

  5. Be observant and ask questions about appropriate behavior at the work place. Different organizations have different expectations regarding employee behavior.

  6. Focus on your communication skills, both written and verbal. Proofread your written work carefully. When communicating wit your co-workers choose respectful, tactful, and professional language at all times.

  7. Be punctual and show up to work on time. If you’re going to be late or sick, be sure to call your supervisor to inform them. Choose your sick days with care and try not to miss too many days at work.

  8. Establish good relationships with your co-workers. Be friendly, polite, helpful, and sensitive. Also be careful about bringing personal business to work.

  9. Be easy to work with. Accept assignments without complaint, ask for more work when assignments are completed, and turn out good quality work.

  10. When you complete your internship, be sure to ask your supervisor for a letter of recommendation and keep in touch so that you can call upon him/her later when you are in need of a reference.

If you're looking to experience Singapore from the tourist's perspective, check out The Most Useful Singapore Travel Guide for 2017.

Emergency Information

In case of any emergencies, here are important phone numbers to have on hand.

singapore hotline

It is also good to have your local embassy’s phone number saved in case of emergencies.

Singapore’s country code is +65 and should be added for in-bound calls for anyone looking to contact you. For outbound calls, don’t forget to add the country code in front of the numbers going outside Singapore.

Money and Tender

Local Currency

The currency used in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar, or also called the ‘Sing Dollar’.

There are a variety of coins and banknotes available in Singapore’s currency, though some are more common than others.

The coins are typically used for Singaporean cents, ranging from 1 cent and up to 1 SGD

Values are as follows: S¢1, S¢5, S¢10, S¢20, S¢50, $1. Banknotes come in a large variety of sizes, like so: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $25, $50, $100, $1000, $10000

sgd

The current smallest and largest valued currency in Singapore the 1 cent coin and 10,000 dollar note are no longer being produced. They are still currently forms of legal tender in circulation, but extremely rare.

Thanks to an agreement made in 1967 that remains to this day, Brunei Dollars are considered customary tender and can be exchanged at a 1:1 rate without charge.

Exchange and Withdrawal

Though you can easily exchange money at the airport, hotel or bank, the best deals for exchange are found at money changing hubs in the city.

They are The Arcade in Raffles Place, Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road, Mustafa Centre in Little India, People’s Park Complex in Chinatown, and Parkway Parade in Marine Parade.

They are close to many tourist attractions and you can bargain to get better exchange rates.

ATM

credit card

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can be found all over Singapore, especially at banks, train stations and shopping centers. Most machines allow Visa and Mastercard withdrawals.

If the machine has a Plus or Cirrus sign, you can withdraw money directly from your account. Keep in mind that withdrawals will likely incur a fee.

If you plan on using your credit card frequently, it is a good idea to sure to inform your bank of your travel plans beforehand to prevent the chance of your account being frozen.

Worried about money? Find out How to Get Funding For Your Internship.

SIM Cards In Singapore

Singaporean SIM cards are compatible with GSM phones. as long as they are not locked.

Telecommunication firms in Singapore are very competitive, so they offer relatively similar packages.

You can choose between SingTel, Mobile One (M1) or StarHub.

mobile phone

We recommend SingTel, as it seems to have the best connection in or out of Singapore. However you should choose whichever company offers you the best deal.

SIM card purchases will require a passport, so make sure to have yours with you.

You can buy a SIM card or top up card at convenience stores, supermarkets, customer service outlets of telecom companies, post offices and airport.

Pre-paid cards come with stored value that is valid for a short period of time, usually 2 to 6 months.

Getting a post-paid SIM card is more difficult and will require proof of address and employment.

Useful Singlish Phrases

Singlish is an English based creole language that includes a mix of Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi.

Singaporeans use Singlish in less formal settings for efficiency.

It’s recommended you pick up some Singlish during your stay here. It will help you get closer to the locals and they will appreciate your effort!

Here is some common Singlish vocabulary and phrases for you:

PhraseMeaning
Act blurFeign ignorance
Agak-agakAn estimate
Ah then?Of course, duh
AlamakOh my god
Bo jioNever invite
Come I clap for youSarcastic praise
Lah!Exclamation
Pang sehSomeone who doesn't show
ShiokAmazing
SiaoCrazy
SianBoredom
Talk cockTalk nonsense

For more phrases, consult a Singlish dictionary or friendly co-worker.

Places to Visit (Change photos)

Marina Bay

gardens by the bay

Aside from being home to Singapore's mascot, the Merlion, Marina Bay hosts a variety of attractions.

Gardens by the Bay: A total of three different gardens, all built on 101 hectares of reclaimed land adjacent to Marina Reservoir. Outdoor gardens are free.

Marina Barrage: Doubling not only as a water reservoir and recreational area, Marina Barrage is also home to Sustainable Singapore gallery.

Marina Bay Sands: Iconic architecture of this building holds more than a hotel, it is also host to many events. Not to mention, at night you can enjoy the free Three Lights Show.

Singapore Flyer: One of the world's largest Giant Observation Wheel, Singapore Flyer offers breath-taking views thanks to its height of 165 meters.

Esplanade Theatre: With over 3,000 performances, workshops and activities annually, you can either watch music, dance and theatre productions or partake in the programmes available.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

orchids

More than 150 years old, this well-maintained and lush garden has more than just a wonderful plant collection.

National Orchid Garden one of the many features, with over 1,000 species on display.

The Gardens are also a place of research and study of things botanical.

China Town

market

A bustling mix of traditional shops with modern stores, you can explore the Chinese part of Singapore’s heritage.

If you're looking to see some Buddhist temples, this is definitely the place to be!

You can also explore the street markets and museums, including Red Dot Design Museum and Singapore Coins and Notes Museum.

Little India

sim lim square

From vibrant colours to culture, Little India has delicious food and a 24 hour shopping mall Mustafa Centre.

It is also home to Sim Lim Square, the go-to place for IT and mobile products.

If the shopping malls aren't your style, Sungei Road Thieves' Market also features flea markets that is always bustling with activity.

Arab Quarter

mosque

Soak in the ambiance of the Middle East, as well as enjoy the halal food and handicrafts sold by the locals.

Traditional goods from crafts, carpets and clothes are also sold here.

Sultan Mosque is also a magnificent sight to see, whether it is illuminated by the sun or the lights they turn on at night.

Sentosa

singapore beach

Though entry into Sentosa is not free, you can enjoy the sights and beach sunsets once you are on the island.

There are also a variety of attractions available that will make your journey here worthwhile.

S. E. A. Aquarium: Home to more than 100,000 marine animals big and small, you can discover their different habitats as you journey through the exhibits.

Universal Studios: Theme park that features rides, shows and attractions based on your favourite films and television series.

Transportation

Trains

The trains are a reliable form of transportation in and around Singapore. Ticket prices are affordable and can be obtained at a kiosk or a machine.

We recommend buying an Ez-Link Card to save you the trouble of buying a ticket every trip, plus it can be used elsewhere too.

Below you can find the system map of Singapore’s MRT and LRT trains.

train map

CLICK TO ENLARGE MAP

Taxis

Taxis can be cheap or expensive, depending on surcharge and additional fees that may increase your fare.

Factors that affect surcharge include peak hours, past midnight and city areas.

An easy method of getting a taxi is via a taxi stand especially around hotels and malls.

Alternatively, you can try to hail a cab or call one to pick you up. City Cab, Comfort Taxi and SMRT all accept bookings.

grab uber

Taxi services like Grab and UBER are available in Singapore and have mobile applications you can download on your smartphone.

Below is an illustration of each mode of transportation with the price level, duration of travel time, experience, and other notes.

train LRT and MRT Trains

Price: $ $
Time: 🕐
Experience: 😊 😊
Other: Easy and fast access

 

City Buses

Price: $ $
Time: 🕐 🕐 🕐
Experience: 😊
Other: No change for cash payments

Metered Taxis

Price: $ $ $
Time: 🕐 🕐
Experience: 😊 😊 😊
Other: Surcharge can inflate prices

 

Cable Cars

Price: $ $ $ $
Time: 🕐 🕐 🕐
Experience: 😊 😊 😊 😊
Other: Touristy mode of transportation

Food: Where and What to Eat

For food that is affordable and doesn’t compromise on taste, hawker stalls are the best choice. Most dishes will cost only 3 to 10 Singaporean dollars.

Lau Pa Sat is a well-known hawker centre in the financial district that offers everything from Singaporean classics to Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and some Western dishes as well.

Other notable hawker locations are Maxwell Hawker Centre and Food Street in Chinatown and Tekka Centre in Little India.

Old Airport Road Food Centre looks a little less fancy and located in a less popular area, but is considered by many locals to be the best in terms of taste and price.

Malls will also often have foot courts which offer meals at affordable prices, though it may range depending on location.

singaporean food

Of course, Singapore also has a wide array of the more traditional types of restaurants and cafés available as well.

Recommendations can be found in abundance online if you’re stuck on what to eat.

Here are some must try Singaporean dishes:

Dos and Don'ts

dos and don'ts

Medical Facilities

Most foreigners living in Singapore use private healthcare facilities, but it can be very expensive.

You can use public healthcare facilities, but you are not entitled to government healthcare subsidies.

Hence, it is useful to have a fully covered insurance policy that will cover you abroad as well.

This is possibly already included in your travel insurance. With serious medical issues, contact the embassy and your insurance company.

For common and non-serious ailments like colds there are three options available for you:

  • Pharmacies: Guardian and Watsons are some of the drugstore chains that sell beauty and wellness products in general, as well as general medicine.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine: From herbal remedies to acupuncture, these forms of traditional medicines remain very popular in Singapore.
  • Family Clinics/General Practitioners: Small private clinics are available around neighborhoods and you can find the closest one near you with a Google search. Seek help here for minor problems.

Immunizations You May Need

The CDC and WHO recommend these vaccinations for Singapore:

  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella
  • Influenza
  • Yellow Fever*

*Not recommended for the most part, but will be a necessary requirement if you are coming from a country where yellow fever is endemic. Proof of immunization may be needed to enter the country.

Singaporean Culture

Kiasu

singlish

A Singlish word with Hokkien origins, it means “fear of losing out”.

It is a world that encapsulates Singaporeans with life and work, engrained since birth. Singaporeans are competitive and fear failure.

While this has many positive traits, such as punctuality, efficiency and ambition, it can also make someone more selfish, overly-competitive and cautious.

Being kiasu has driven Singapore to economic success, but also a cause of stress in their society.

Names and Greetings

Titles should always be used before the name, such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr.

For the most part, it is family names or surnames are preferred when addressing individuals, especially if they are Chinese.

Handshaking is the most common form of greeting in Singapore, but there are also many intricacies surrounding it.

Avoid using only your left hand when greeting someone. Men will always shake hands with other men, but not always the case with the opposite sex.

Formalities can be dropped amongst friends or with permission.

When in doubt, allow the other person to introduce themselves and do as they do.

Hierarchy

Business structures are more hierarchical in Singapore.

Decisions are made at the top by senior management and trickle down.

As Singapore is driven by many Confucian values, age is respected and people in higher management are rarely young.

Managers expect respect from their juniors and subordinates. In return seniors are expected to take care of their people and guide them.

Dealing with Disagreements

Relationships in Singapore become difficult when people lose “face”, due to embarrassment.

Disagreements should be handled with care and in private.

It is important to be open, but also to choose with care when and where you have a debate.

Undermining your superior's authority in front of an audience will cause a strain in your relationship.

Face can also apply to groups of people, not just individuals. For this reason, Singaporeans don't enjoy having their government criticized by who they consider 'outsiders'.

Interesting Facts

lion city

How Singapore Earned the Nickname 'The Lion City'

Singapore’s heavily represented by a lion and the origin of the name comes from ‘Singapura’ which means Lion City in Sanskrit.

Which raises the question of why a country that possesses no lions would be so strongly associated with them.

The answer to that takes us back to 1299, when a prince from the Srivijayan Empire by the name of Sang Nila Utama decided to take a break from his sea voyage at an island.

While hunting, he saw what he thought was a lion and thus named the island after his discovery.

Though it seems more likely that the prince saw a Tiger, the Lion motif has stuck with Singapore and is here to stay.

One of the Three Remaining City-States in the World

There are only three city-states left in the world. Singapore is one of them, along with Monaco and the Vatican City.

City-states do not have capital cities, since they are simultaneously a country and state.

The Fastest Walkers on the Planet are Singaporean

Singaporeans have the fastest walking speed in the world, according to research done by the British Council.

On average, they will walk 18 meters in only 10.55 seconds. So, in one hour a Singaporean will cover approximately 6.15 kilometers an hour.

Singapore is Pretty Green for a 'City'-State

Despite being a small island nation, Singapore possesses a surprising amount of biodiversity thanks to the well-maintained wildlife and nature preserves.

More than half of Singapore is covered in green! Bukit Timah Nature Reserve alone contains more than 840 flowering plants and 240 species of vertebrates, excluding butterflies and insects.

Singaporeans Can Vote in the British Elections

As Singaporeans are Commonwealth citizens, they have the right to vote in national elections under the British law.

They can stand for elections in the British House of Commons and campaign to be an MP of a British constituency as well.

However, you do have to be a resident in the UK.

Enjoy Your Stay in Singapore!

Asia Internship Program hopes you got the most out of your time in Singapore during your internship.

By applying these tips and recommendations, we’re positive that it will make your lifestyle in the Lion City to be smooth sailing.

Share this guide with any interested friends looking to travel to Singapore!

Also, for those of you still in your home country and are interested in doing an internship in Singapore, click the “Learn More” button below for more info.

About Mariya

Born and raised in Thailand, Mariya embraces multiculturalism thanks to her upbringing and international education. Currently based in Bangkok, Mariya is an avid reader who is working her dream job as a writer in Asia Internship Program.

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