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Naturally, young Singaporeans grew up aspiring to travel abroad to outside of Southeast Asia to pursue advancement in careers," said Mr Ong, who is currently an Ambassador-at-large and the executive deputy chairman of Nanyang Technological University's NTU S Rajaratnam School of International Studies. For Mr Cheong Jin Hao, general manager of homegrown mobile-phone distributor Raduga, finding Singaporeans to work in its Myanmar office when the company expanded there in was a challenge. The country's erratic weather and hygiene issues did not help to make its recruitment drive any easier.

Xiao Ban Soya Singapore employs two Singaporean trainers, who travel to its Southeast Asian stores to train the locally hired workers there. Co-founder Max Yeow said that the trainers would initially complain about issues such as Internet connectivity, traffic, cleanliness and quality of life. Eventually, however, they grew to like those experiences, he added. As the company has contacts or partners in the countries they expanded to, which include the Philippines and Vietnam, the Singaporean employees were able to get "the really local experience" and start appreciating their surroundings.

Some students and employees, who had worked for extended periods of time in such countries, said that while there are more rural and undeveloped areas where they worked, compared to Singapore, the infrastructure in big cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta is not to be sniffed at.

Ms Lynette Lau, who completed a six-month-long internship with ride-hailing firm Grab Indonesia last year, said that the infrastructure in Jakarta "mirrors that of a developed city", only that "it's not that clean and the traffic is crazy". Traffic in central Jakarta. Offices are like that of those in the Central Business District.

But if you travel more to the outskirts then there are fewer high-rise buildings. When it comes to safety, a key concern for some young Singaporeans, Ms Lau said that her own worries turned out to be unfounded. As part of her work in expansion analytics and operations, she travelled to 10 cities such as Bandung, Lombok and Medan — several times on her own.

A lot of my juniors in Ngee Ann Polytechnic were worried about going to Indonesia because of safety, cleanliness, this kind of things.

Mentality and Thought

But when I went there, I was surprised myself. I went to very undeveloped cities where there is only one mall in the whole city and the airport is so small, and you think it's really dangerous, but I travelled alone to these places … no harm came to me," she added. Safety issues aside, undergraduate Isaac Ng, 21, also cited the language barrier as one reason why he would prefer to work in a Western city rather than a Southeast Asian one. The perception that our neighbours are different means "young Singaporeans are more concerned with things that go on in the 'developed' world", the year-old added.

Another 25 took the course as a minor.

Cardinal Directions Song

This makes up a fraction of the approximately 1, undergraduates who enter the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences every year. At the graduate level, about 15 to 20 graduate students took the Masters and PhD courses each year. Yale-NUS College graduation ceremony. Photo: Yale-NUS.

Associate Professor Itty Abraham, head of the department of Southeast Asian Studies at NUS, said that students "who come to Southeast Asia-focused classes are often amazed to find out how little they know about the region, compared to their knowledge of Europe and the US". Experts and businesses emphasised the importance of ASEAN, which has developed rapidly over the past two decades and now presents vast opportunities.

Professor Liu Hong, chair of NTU's School of Social Sciences, said that it is necessary for young Singaporeans to come to grips with the rapid economic development, emergence of the middle class and improvement of living standards in Southeast Asia. At Republic Polytechnic RP , for example, almost half of the students who had interned overseas did so in Southeast Asian countries. Such internships equip students with regional perspectives, which "challenge them to adapt professionally in an intercultural work environment", said Dr Terence Chong, director of RP's office of international relations.

Republic Polytechnic was founded in He added:. This exposure in the classroom and the field provides a very useful counterpoint to the everyday lives they live in Singapore — a world that is safe, comfortable, and clean — by making them newly aware of how hard it was to achieve what they have always taken for granted and bringing to them a new sense of responsibility and value in helping others in the region achieve similar outcomes.

Mr Ong noted that Singaporeans have a "comparative advantage" over others in the region when it comes to managerial positions in the tourism sector, as English is the common working language here. Young Singaporeans can look forward to touring the region more widely with better established tourism facilities, and also starting up tour agencies or taking up good positions in the tourism sector in these Southeast Asian countries," he said.

From a practical point of view, Raduga's Mr Cheong said that the time differences in the region and Singapore's proximity make it more convenient to work in Southeast Asia. It is easier to fly back and forth from Bangkok, for example, than from London, he noted. On the business front, Mr Terence Yow, managing director of Enviably Me, said that smaller Singapore businesses like his own have a better competitive edge in developing economies, including those in Southeast Asia. The sole distributor of Brazilian brand Melissa shoes in Singapore and Malaysia expanded its business to India just this year.

Mr Ong noted that as ASEAN countries develop and open up, the demand and need for infrastructure development will increase. Singapore companies could then seize these opportunities to establish offices there, he added. For homegrown ride-hailing firm Grab, focusing its attention on Southeast Asia eventually allowed it to usurp giant rival Uber in the region. Earlier this year, Uber bowed out of the regional market, in a deal that saw the American company receiving a In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month, Grab co-founder Tan Hooi Ling explained the company's stance:.

There's more greenfield than in any other region in the world, because technology hasn't been able to truly shape the lives of the Southeast Asian region yet. Businesses which tap into the region will be able to tap into youths' passion and optimism," he said. This, he said, makes us think that time is 'stuff' that can be saved, wasted, or lost. The Hopi, he said, don't talk about time in those terms, and so they think about it differently; for them it is a continuous cycle.

But this doesn't necessarily mean that our language has forced a certain view of time on us; it could also be that our view of time is reflected in our language, or that the way we deal with time in our culture is reflected in both our language and our thoughts. It seems likely that language, thought, and culture form three strands of a braid, with each one affecting the others. Much of the time, yes. But not always. You can easily conjure up mental images and sensations that would be hard to describe in words.

You can think about the sound of a symphony, the shape of a pear, or the smell of garlic bread. None of these thoughts require language. Take colors, for example. There are an infinite number of different colors, and they don't all have their own names. If you have a can of red paint and slowly add blue to it, drop by drop, it will very slowly change to a reddish purple, then purple, then bluish purple. Each drop will change the color very slightly, but there is no one moment when it will stop being red and become purple.

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The color spectrum is continuous. Our language, however, isn't continuous. Our language makes us break the color spectrum up into 'red', 'purple', and so on. The Dani of New Guinea have only two basic color terms in their language, one for 'dark' colors including blue and green and one for 'light' colors including yellow and red. Their language breaks up the color spectrum differently from ours.

But that doesn't mean they can't see the difference between yellow and red; studies have shown that they can see different colors just as English speakers can.

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In Russian, there are two different words for light blue and dark blue. Does this mean that Russian speakers think of these as 'different' colors, while having one word blue causes English speakers to think of them as the same? Do you think of red and pink as different colors? If so, you may be under the influence of your language; after all, pink is really just light red.

So our language doesn't force us to see only what it gives us words for, but it can affect how we put things into groups.


One of the jobs of a child learning language is to figure out which things are called by the same word. After learning that the family's St.

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Or the child may not realize that the neighbor's chihuahua also counts as a dog. The child has to learn what range of objects is covered by the word dog.

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  5. We learn to group things that are similar and give them the same label, but what counts as being similar enough to fall under a single label may vary from language to language. In other words, the influence of language isn't so much on what we can think about, or even what we do think about, but rather on how we break up reality into categories and label them.