CommunityCerita Exclusive

I’m A 26yo M’sian Who Found A Great Job In Singapore. But I Hope To Return One Day As It’s Where My Home Is

"I feel that people here are missing their smiles."
George Ting is a 26-year-old Malaysian who has been working in the hectic city of Singapore for a year, where his job as a civil engineer involves overlooking construction site projects.

Although he considers himself lucky to have a good-paying job and a place to stay, he always had this nagging feeling that something was missing.

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I feel that people here are missing their smiles, and many are always on the brink of an emotional outburst.

“For me, the one thing that is truly missing is the sense of home,” he shared.

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George on a singapore mrt
Photo courtesy of George

The start of his story

George, who hails from Sibu, Sarawak, describes himself as one who has an “adventurous soul”, where he would seek out every chance to explore new experiences and cities.

As such, it was of no surprise that during his university years studying Civil Engineering at Nottingham University, he chose to spend his last two years of university in Nottingham, England.

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“The moment I knew there was such an option, it became my goal to partake in it,” he added.

George gradution from nottingham
Photo courtesy of George

Living the England experience

George’s time in Nottingham wasn’t just about rainbows and sunshine. On the contrary, he spent most of his time working as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.

“On weekdays, we would head over to the restaurant after class and start working from 5:30 pm until 11 pm.

The weekends were crazier. We would work a 12-hour shift from 11am to 11pm.”

George added that while it was actually illegal to work such long shifts, he and his friend soldiered on as they were trying to earn as much as they could.

“Despite having to work longer shifts in the UK, I still felt it was more stress-free compared to Singapore.”

Three different work-life

After he came back from the UK, he then spent two years working in Sarawak, Malaysia.

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In retrospect, George thinks that people prefer to work in teams more on projects here in Malaysia and often have longer deadlines compared to Singapore.

“We are always involved in each other’s progress and help each other. Whereas in Singapore, it is all about efficiency. People only check on your progress from time to time.”

Putting it into a ranking according to stress, George thinks Singapore is the most stressful, while the UK is the more laid-back one.

George in singapore
Photo courtesy of George

“They respect people’s private time and would stop everyone when working hours are off in the UK.”

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“Whereas here in Singapore, we are expected to finish our tasks on time, and often need to do overtime without extra pay.”

Living & working with stress

After returning from the UK, George spent two years working in Sibu in the construction industry as a civil engineer before moving to Singapore to work after he responded to a job opening.

Today, he’s part of a team that’s in charge of building the government apartments for the Housing and Development Board.

“It took me six months to completely get used to life here, adapt, to the working environment and build my own social circle.
George found his social circle
Photo courtesy of George

“I would say my workplace is a pleasant one and I blend in easily as many other Malaysians are working here,” he said.

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George shared that some of his friends working in Singapore experience toxic office politics while others work under very “oppressive” companies.

I consider myself quite lucky to have found this workplace. And I’ve met a lot of friends through church and also playing badminton.

“However, I still think that overall, the Singaporean lifestyle is very fast-paced and full of stress.”

George after work activity is gym
Photo courtesy of George

To further back up this point, George shared about the times when strangers threw tantrums at him out of the blue.

“I always hear people shouting at each other over some minor mistakes. It’s as if many of them are always on the brink of an emotional outburst.”

“I can even feel everyone’s stress boil over when walking down the street or taking public transportation. But I suppose this is a common feature of life in a big city life rather than solely being a Singaporean issue,” he said.

Future plans

George shared that he is currently content with his job and is not planning to leave anytime soon.

George with his new company
Photo courtesy of George

However, he admitted that he constantly senses a calling for him to return to Malaysia but is unsure when that will come to pass.

“Once I’m able to complete this chapter in Singapore, I might go back and start a small business in Malaysia.

Call me old-fashioned but I still see Malaysia as my home country and as the place where I would like to end my story.”

When asked to give a piece of advice to Malaysians who wish to come to work in Singapore, he said that the key is knowing what one’s goals are.

“You need to know what your goal is and make it clear. That way, you will find motivation and keep working towards it,” he said.

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