On being the token Yank, an introduction

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Image from americasolidarity.org though apparently the website got hacked.

(Holy crap that eagle is scary. Don’t mess with America or he’ll eat your soul! Seriously though, I’m a nice American, not a scary one)

My Husband: So I just got offered a position in Singapore. What do you think?

Me: Um…is that by China somewhere?

No, no it is not. Well, I mean kind of it is, I guess. Relatively speaking….

Anyway, many steps later, we’re living in the tiny island nation of Singapore (see map below). A few quick boring demographic notes about Singapore: 74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian. There is also a sizable population of Westerners here as well, mostly brought in by companies to do specific jobs, and a large number of foreign domestic workers and foreign workers here to do construction jobs. Most people speak English (mostly the British variety, but mixed with American vocab) or Singlish (a mix of a variety of dialects including English, Hokkien, Tamil, Malay, and Cantonese).

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Over here in Singapore I just don’t know many Americans, even though I’m sure there are plenty. I hang out mostly with English, Scottish, Australians and a few locals who also speak the British variety of English. Weird, right? Travel to the other side of the world to hang out with people from a different side of the world. It’s amazing how similar we seem when surrounded by Asians haha.

Anyway, being surrounded by people who are NOT Americans has taught me quite a lot about the United States. I was over here during the government shutdown. Try explaining that fiasco! Um, no actually President Obama can’t just restart the government…  It’s also helped with my writing tremendously. Stay tuned for all my random musings and observations on the topic. It.is.fascinating!

Next post topic: Things my British friends say that I wish I could

Have you ever experienced being the token______? What were some of the things that really struck you?

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36 comments

  1. seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

    Great post, Sarah! As you know, I am often the token Canadian in “your” country! *LOL* The other day I said to someone waiting with me at a bus stop, “It seems to be spitting out!” She looked at me with complete confusion. In Canada if it is raining a tiny bit, we say, “spitting”; apparently that is not how they roll here! 🙂 Cher xo

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    • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

      Lol yeah I haven’t heard that one, token Canadian 😉 I’ll have a lot to share! Thx for stopping by, my expat friend!

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        And I cannot wait to hear more! Isn’t it funny, Sarah, how we all take for granted the ‘slang’ and expressions we use, thinking nothing of it when we say it. However, now I know to be careful about my spitting comments! Hee!

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      • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

        I’ve suspended calling a bubbler a bubbler……. Calling it a drinking fountain while in sg 😦

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        What about your ‘drip coffee’? *grin* Oh, we call it a drinking fountain! Do you call it a bubbler? I love that! I’ve never heard of that before!

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      • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

        Haha drip coffee I love you. Yeah bubbler is a Wisconsin thing or a part of Wisconsin thing. :):)

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        Ah, that must be it! I think bubbler is awesome! I am surprised they don’t say it here, since Wisconsin is next door! *LOL*

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      • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

        Haha you’re just not cool enough, surprised it wasn’t stolen by all the summer invaders on their way to the Dells haha

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        Yeah, no doubt! *LOL* And you are right, we are not cool enough here! *biggest grin* HEE!

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      • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

        Hahaaaaa Illinois…. You’re okay. Except for all your tolls. That’s not so much okay.

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        *LOL* Yeah, that’s not cool, is it?

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      • sjoycarlson · May 15, 2014

        Not so much no. And tge perpetual road construction on I90…. But really… We’ll take your money 😛

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      • seaangel4444 · May 15, 2014

        Hahaha! Yes, I know that to be true! And by the way, is it true they call you, “Cheeseheads”? *grin* I happen to LOVE cheese, so that would suit me fine! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Oh, yes it’s true. Cuz of the foam hats at Packer’s games. And cuz we make A LOT of awesome cheese:P. Do you know what we call people from Illinois, particularly when they are being generally terrible drivers on our lovely roads that are in much better condition that Illinois? ….actually, if you don’t know I don’t think I should tell you….

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      • seaangel4444 · May 16, 2014

        Ah yes, I’ve seen those hats! And I sure know Wisconsin makes the best cheese in the country! Oh yes, please do tell! Since I have literally told people back home many, many times the drivers here are the worst I’ve seen anywhere, I’d LOVE it if you’d tell me!!! *LOL*

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Okay…. Canucks in Illinois are excluded, obviously, as you, by nature, are none of these things. eek, I don’t usually swear on my blog, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks 😉 F***ing Illinois B**tards, or FIBs for short 😛 For the record, I did NOT make that up haha so no offense to any native Illini out there.

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      • seaangel4444 · May 16, 2014

        That is awesome! *LOL* I have never heard this before, but I can TOTALLY understand! Wait until I tell my American hubby! *LOL* This is great! You learn something new every day. In my case, today it’s a Yank in Singapore telling a Canuck in the US! 🙂

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Hahahaaaaa Glad to enlighten. Of course, us Wisconsinites, we’d only say it behind Illini’s backs or shout it at them when they cut us off in traffic without signalling. My brother-in-law, from the greater Chicagoland area, thinks it’s hilarious and true, too 🙂

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      • seaangel4444 · May 16, 2014

        I have literally had to change my way of thinking not only in a car here, but as a pedestrian. I’ve never, ever experienced drivers taking the ‘right of way’ when clearly a pedestrian has the ‘walk’ signal. I’ve had drivers literally go right in front of me when I’m crossing the at a walk sign. Unreal. Your brother-in-law is correct!!! Oh signalling? You mean the option to flash a little light for 0.000002 seconds? Ah, yes, I’ve heard of it here, but haven’t really seen it! 😉

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Hahahaaaaa! I’m sure it’s not so bad outside Chi-town, but I sometimes forget that there’s actually other parts of Illinois. Sorry, state of Illinois.

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      • seaangel4444 · May 16, 2014

        I know, I feel the same! I have visited the capital (Springfield) and I think they feel that Chicago is the big, bad city that they try and not associate with) 🙂 🙂

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  2. pipergustafson · May 16, 2014

    I’m the token Arizona-born, warm-weather-raised child living in freezing Cleveland. I get a lot of questions in the winter about the probability of my survival given the temperatures. I’m proud to say, I’ve now made it through two!

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    • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

      Haha! Oh, come on winter’s not so bad, right? 😛 That means you’re a survivor 🙂

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  3. JP McLean · May 16, 2014

    Your post has lit some memories for me. I lived in Mexico for a year and learned that you don’t buy your eggs by the dozen, but by weight. My Spanish was not very good and the woman selling me eggs thought I was nuts. But she was polite. She carefully placed 12 eggs in the centre of a square that held 24, put another paper square on top and tied the whole bundle with string. I felt like an idiot carrying my 12 eggs around the market. Most locals bought 2-3 flats of eggs not 12.

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    • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

      Haha they sell them in massive flats here, too! It’s all the little things 🙂 There’s more to come so stay tuned and feel free to keep sharing all those memories with me!

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  4. Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

    Many of my friends have worked in Singapore it seems to be a popular place for Aussies. When I lived in England, so not to offend, They would say “Are you Antipodean?” They thought I’d be offend if they called me New Zealander. I guess it’s like calling a Canadian, American.

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    • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

      Yeah, there are ALOT of Aussies here. What is an Antipodean? I’ve never heard that. Yeah, and it’s my understanding that like American:Canadian as Australian:New Zealanders. Apparently Aussies and Americans are just loud, rude, overly-patriotic tourists. Whereas everyone loves Canadians and New Zealanders. Though I WILL say this, living in SE Asia, where there aren’t as many Americans as other nationalities…. To me it seems like most nationalities are obnoxious when in a large group: British, German, French, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Aussies. Hmmmm this could be another post! I suppose it would be possibly offensive to call a Canadian American lol, they are such a kind and polite people (unless hockey gets involved….).

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      • Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

        Antipodean means opposite side of the globe, basically down under. i really did notice the Americans when I was in Europe very loud and I would cringe whenever I heard a loud Australian (loud and proud haha) In America though, I didn’t notice, I thought they were polite, helpful and genuine -maybe i was in Canada (joking).

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Hahahaaaaa. Glad we’re not annoying in our natural habitat 😛 I usually walk around with my America-dar on in Singapore, like do we dress a certain way or look a certain way, and I can’t find Americans unless they talk. But really, I rarely see them or hear them as tourists or residents. Now Aussies on the other hand…. 😛 But we’re waaaay closer to Australia though, so it’s not a fair comparison. Singaporeans often ask if I’m Australian, even after I talk. What does that say about me?? I think just that I wear flipflops and shorts haha and also I don’t look British or something… Who knows. It’s all very amusing.

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      • Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

        It is funny we should write a post solely on this topic. Australians have a very wicked sense of humour so if you’re getting along with the Aussies in Singapore and not getting offended, then you’ve probably become an honorary Aussie.

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  5. sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

    Hahaaaaa yes!! My English friends have promoted me to practically British and my mom’s Canadian so I’ve got most of the native English-speaking western world covered haha. We should write a post haha!

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    • Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

      Haha you are covered. I practically go back to the first fleet, convict and all. 🙂

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Nice! Haha. Badge of honor that!

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      • Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

        Yes, she was convicted to seven years here. I argued with the British embassy that because she never went back that they should give me a visa i could go in her place. They didn’t agree.

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      • sjoycarlson · May 16, 2014

        Haha you actually did that?? That’s awesome! Guess she liked sunny Australia better!

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      • Bookgirl · May 16, 2014

        Yep I did, they laughed. Have a great day 🙂

        Like

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