10 Things You Should Know About Singapore Before Interning Abroad

by Anne-Fleur Vaartjes

International work experience is being valued more and more by employers and many students are now recognizing this. As a result, students are replacing their summer beach holidays with an internship in an often far-away country. There is currently a movement from West to East, by students looking for an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, with Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore among the most popular destinations. The latter cities have especially gained recognition as ideal locations for internship experience in recent years, whether because of their modern, clean image, multiculturalism, or reputation as commercial centres. 









The famous Merlion statue representing the Lion City

The famous Merlion statue representing the “Lion City”

However, when you consider all these aspects, Singapore clearly rises above the rest. But deciding to intern abroad in Singapore doesn’t only entail choosing your dream internship, because there is much more to interning abroad than your actual placement. Here are 10 things you should know about Singapore BEFORE interning abroad:

1. Singapore is also known as the “Lion City.”

This reference comes from its name change in the 14th century. When a prince came to the then Temasek’s shore with the intent of starting a new city, he saw an unfamiliar animal with an orange body and black head which looked like a lion. He then decided to rename the city Singapura, with singa meaning “lion” in Malay and pura meaning “city” in Sanskrit. In this way, the name Singapura translates to “Lion City” in English. The head of the renowned Merlion statue along the Singapore River signifies this “Lion City” nickname, while the fish body symbolizes the fishing village Singapore initially was.

2. Singapore is actually physically growing.

How is this possible? The fact that Singapore was the largest importer of sand in 2015 might give you an idea; Singapore is reclaiming land from the sea by filling it with sand. Since its independence in 1965, prior to which it was part of Malaysia, Singapore has expanded by 22 percent, from 58,000 hectares to 71,000 hectares. This expansion is playing a key role in its economic growth.









One of the most renowned buildings in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, with its impressive rooftop pool

One of the most renowned buildings in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands, with its impressive rooftop pool

3. No chewing gum, no littering, no smoking, no urinating in elevators.

There is a reason why Singapore is as clean as it is. Singapore has many laws that help uphold its reputation; the most surprising of which being its chewing gum ban. Under this law, gum is not allowed to be bought or sold within the nation-state. Also, the spitting out of gum on the street will result in a substantial fine of up to $1000. The improper disposal of chewing gum was a serious problem in Singapore previously, so proposed ban of this sticky substance was long suggested. However, the law wasn’t finally enforced until chewed gum was being stuck to the door sensors of the Mass Rapid Transit (MTR), causing malfunctions and disruptions of the public transportation services.

But Singapore’s laws go far beyond chewing gum. When you are interning in Singapore, be sure not to jaywalk, forget to the flush the toilet, or walk around your house naked, because you may all of sudden have to spend a lot more money than planned. Lastly, make sure you finish your food or drink before stepping onto the MTR, as drinking, eating, and taking pictures on this convenient and fast means of transportation are not strictly allowed.

4. From the moment you arrive, Singapore will be ready to impress. 

Singapore Changi Airport was recently named the “World’s Best Airport”, but it actually has kept this title for four consecutive years. Some of the unexpected features of the airport include a rooftop swimming pool, themed gardens, a 12-meter-high slide, free massage areas, movie theatres, and, in case you still want to leave the airport during your layover (if it is longer than five hours), you can enjoy a free tour of Singapore provided by Changi Airport. For once you might hope for a delay instead of cursing it!









Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool

Marina Bay Sands rooftop pool

5. Goodbye cold and hello year-long summer.

With an average temperature of 32 degrees Celsius and temperatures almost never dropping below 23 degrees, you can leave your jackets, scarves, and gloves at home. Sweaters may still be a necessity, however. Although the lowest temperature recorded in Singapore is 19.4 degrees Celsius, this does not take into consideration the often over-air-conditioned malls, restaurants, and office buildings. While interning in Singapore you may find yourself putting your sweater on when going inside and taking it off when going outside instead of the other way around.

6. Singapore doesn’t cut any corners.

Not only is Singapore one of the richest countries in the world, it also home to some of the most expensive buildings in the world. These world famous buildings include the Marina Bay Sands, an elevated surfboard with the clouds as its waves, the Esplanade concert hall, which looks like a durian fruit, and the ArtScience museum, which resembles a banana split. The most well-known of the latter three, Marina Bay Sands, accommodates the world’s largest and highest rooftop pool, offering a breath-taking view over the city paired with the perfect heat escape.









A street view of Singapore 

A street view of Singapore 

7. Singapore is one of the three remaining city-states in the world...

...at least the three over which there is general consensus about, because there are others whose recognition as a city-state remain highly debated. Singapore stands alongside Vatican City and Monaco in this unique geographical and political grouping. However, Singapore is sometimes referred to as the world’s only fully-functioning city-state, setting it apart from the latter two. A city-state refers to a state holding its own sovereignty that is comprised of a city and its dependent territories. Therefore, Singapore is, in fact, the second most populated country in the world, after its fellow city-state Monaco, with 5.2 million people living on just 700 square kilometres of land.

8. Singaporeans are said to be the fastest walkers on the planet.

According to the British Council, with an average speed of 6.15 kilometres an hour, Singaporeans can out-power walk the best of us. So should you want to blend in with the locals, you may want to start working on that pace before arrival.

9. There are architectural limits, despite the seemingly endless shapes and sizes.

Although the skyscrapers may seem endless, both in number and in height, buildings in Singapore can actually not be higher than 280 meters. The reason for this is the proximity of any point on the island to the Changi Airport. There are only three buildings in the Lion City that actually reach this height: OUB Center, OUB Plaza, and Republic Plaza.









The magical Gardens by the Bay 

The magical Gardens by the Bay 

10. English isn’t the national language.

Despite almost everyone in Singapore speaking English, Malay is Singapore’s national language. Singapore was originally a Malay settlement, so this part of is its history is still being honoured; its national anthem is also still in Malay. Nevertheless, in addition to Malay, English, Mandarin, and Tamil are all recognized as official languages of Singapore. Singaporeans have also created their own colloquial slang, known as Singlish, which is a mixture of its many languages and dialects.

With Singapore being named one of the safest countries in the world and often referred to as the “best place to do business” as well as “most liveable city in Asia”, it is definitely trending as a top-pick destination for international internships for good reason. Singapore is a diverse place in every way, from the people that call it home to the type of food it offers to the architectural contracts between its many skyscrapers and gardens. The list above will provide you with some essential insight into this truly unique place, however, rest assured that Singapore has many more surprises and extraordinary features in store for you during your internship.

Step on board, choose the best internship in Singapore for you, and get ready to be amazed!

This article was contributed by Absolute Internship, an internship program provider established in 2009 which offers placements across Europe and Asia.