An American in Singapore

One part of Singapore's cityscape.

by Charles Thor

I am still amazed at how quickly my two years in Singapore went and how familiar Asia felt after those two years. I learned a lot professionally and personally about doing business, about customs and language, food, and celebrations.

I'll be talking in much more depth about my expat assignment at "Eat, Play, Live" on February 16, but below are a few excerpts of some things I learned.

In Singapore:

* You never need a sweater, jacket, or long pants … unless of course you go to the office, where the ambient temperature is between sub-arctic and arctic.

* Celebrating Chinese/Lunar New Year is essential. I love the food traditions, the bright and innocent decorations, and of course the gatherings with friends and family.

* Street food in Asia, especially Singapore, is AWESOME. BBQ chicken wings sound simple, but are complex and exquisite when done street-food style.

* Karaoke isn't just a spectator sport, it is serious business. Bad singing is an indispensable way to interact with bosses, clients and colleagues.

* Asking about age, weight, marital status and even salary is OK at work in Asia. Just don't bring that habit back to the U.S.

To hear more about my expat adventures — as well as tales from other Americans who have gone East — come to Asia Society’s Young Professionals Group event, Eat, Play, Live: Stories from Expats in Asia on Thursday, February 16, in San Francisco. Wine, food and conversation will be flowing. We look forward to seeing you there!

Charles Thor is a corporate client relationship manager for HSBC Bank in San Francisco. For two years through October 2011, Charles was living in Singapore, where he worked for The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi-UFJ. He was sent there to head Bank of Tokyo's expansion and reach to U.S. multinational companies throughout Asia. He has traveled and worked extensively throughout Southeast Asia and China.