The acquired, passed-down and accepted social norm of reserving tables using anything from tissue paper to other random belongings may seem normal to Singaporeans but actually posed as a culture shock to one German exchange student.
He retreated to social media to get some answers and luckily was not preyed on by Singaporeans even though he called the whole thing “really selfish” and Singaporeans to be “cold and unfriendly”.
Posted in NUSWhispers’ Facebook page, a profile dedicated to giving every NUS student an opportunity to air out their “weals and woes”, the National University of Singapore exchange student made his confession. He says, “I am an exchange student from Germany. I always thought I would make some Singapore friends while I am here, but everyone seems so cold and unfriendly. Reserving seats using your bags and laptops at the eateries in school is a culture shock for me. My friends and I asked our mentors if this was some kind of NUS culture or just a Singaporean culture, and they told us this is Singaporean, and we find this really selfish. And for the study tables, students leave their bags, papers, laptops on tables and spread them out to look like the tables have been occupied by many people. But to our surprise, we found out that these students went for their lunch and 1 student take up the whole study that could be meant for 4 people. It’s really a culture shock in my second week in Singapore, and I don’t know what to expect later.”
Singapore gently answers
As succinctly summarized by Kelsey Wang, chope culture is real and justifiable. For a detailed explanation, read Kelvin Ng and Clement Low’s explanations below.
Jeffrey Lim also suggested some ways that the exchange student could meet friendly Singaporeans.
Angelina Wee has also given him an insider tip and told him to run faster so he can chope successfully.
Or, according to Lachlan Shanks, the exchange student can opt to just move the stuff and reconquer the choped table. He also adds that he experienced the same thing initially but has met a lot of friendly Singaporeans along the way.
Meanwhile, Chua Chong Kiat makes an inside joke and proves the friendliness of Singaporeans in relation to the recent water issues between Singapore and Malaysia.