19,122 km, or about half a world away, friends and family back home are celebrating national day! It's my third year running that I'm out of the country during national day (in 2012, I was in the Philippines, 2013, South Africa, 2014, Peru), but that national pride hasn't died. In fact, the more I travel, and the more people I meet, the more national identity I feel.
One of the things I really enjoy about travelling (especially when alone) is meeting people and chatting with them, and when they're interested, telling them all about Singapore. How we're a tiny country/city (about the size of NYC), how English is kinda our first language (tho I never thought about it that way previously) tho we all still learn our mother tongue, how life is like in Singapore, our laws and cost of living and educational system and wildlife and especially food and Singlish! :) basically everything I think is quintessential to being Singaporean. Or how I identify myself and fellow compatriots.
And when you're travelling in a place as far from Singapore as South America, which is not only geographically far but also a continent that far fewer Singaporeans travel to, as compared to North America and Europe, hearing that familiar accent is always comforting. In the month and a half or so that I've been here, I've met just 3 Singaporeans, a guy travelling solo through S. Am whom I met in the Galapagos and a couple who was also hiking the Salkantay trek though with a different group.
I found it interesting how you can usually tell when meeting Singaporeans overseas whether they studied overseas or locally. Cos for example when I talk to non-Singaporeans (and Malaysians), I usually end up speaking with a weird 'international school' (or chapalang) accent, which I've been told sounds North American/British and is some mix of both. It's incredibly difficult for me to talk to them in a Singaporean accent, cos for the most part they don't get what I'm saying anw. But Singaporeans who study locally don't have this issue, tho to be fair I have friends who still always speak in Singaporean English.
It seems to me that there are various kinda of Singaporeans that you might meet overseas. On one end, you get those who hate everything Singaporean and went overseas to get away from it and try to avoid their roots (I personally haven't met any, tho that girl who became briefly famous/infamous for some of her non-nationalistic remarks after her kpop contest thing seems to fall in this category). Then I guess on the other end you get those who think singapore is the best at everything and don't appear to embrace local culture and try and understand and appreciate it (also haven't really met someone like this haha). And in between, I suppose most people, like me, fall in this category, you get those who enjoy learning about and appreciating new and foreign cultures, but at the same time feel proud of my own heritage and distinct culture. I never tire of sharing what Singapore and being Singaporean is like, and there's nothing more satisfying than knowing that you made a good impression of Singapore on others and they would love to come visit. And I only wish they could see my Facebook feed and realise how awesome our wildlife is despite Singapore being highly urbanised.
It's almost the end of the day in Singapore now, tho it's kinda just starting here in Peru. I'm off to look for tadpoles and frogs in the forest here, but I'll be thinking of our little patch of rainforest and our reefs and seagrass meadows, and wishing I were home celebrating with family and friends, especially the annual National Day cleanup run by international coastal cleanup singapore!
Happy national day! Photo taken and sent to me by my dad :)