You don't have to look far to find your own countrymen in Singapore.
Living in a foreign country can be daunting. The laws are different. The cultures are different, and adjusting to a new environment might take longer than you had imagined. Fret not. Singapore is a cultural melting pot where diverse cultures meet and interact, and meeting fellow countrymen is not that tall an order.
On the surface, Singapore is highly westernised, and it is very easy to adjust to life here as opposed to many other Asian countries. But dig deeper and you'd still find cultural obstacles that can be daunting for some foreigners to overcome.
To make the transition less stressful, many clubs and associations have been established to provide a trusted support network and act as a home away from home, serving the professional, business, cultural and social needs of the expatriate communities.
They also help expatriates fit into Singapore's culture at their own time and pace. Read on for more information, or better yet, visit the clubs to see which one best caters to your needs.
The American Association of Singapore (AAS)
10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573
Founded in 1917, the 91-year-old institution has helped many Americans bridge the gap between the expatriate and local community. It holds four events annually to celebrate American holidays and culture – the George Washington Ball, 4th of July Independence Day Celebration, Ambassador's Cup Golf Tournament and Music in the Park.
Networking sessions are held frequently, and they are open to anyone who wants to meet people. Weekly sporting activities such as golf, dragon boating and softball are also organised. If you are looking for a job, the AAS has a Career Resource Centre for Expatriates, a programme that is unique among the expatriate associations here.
Membership is open to all expatriates residing in Singapore, not just Americans, even though they do make up about 41% of the association. You can get more information by calling the AAS at (65) 6738 0371 or dropping by their office.
The Australian and New Zealand Association (ANZA)
19 Tanglin Road, #06-27 Tanglin Shopping centre, Singapore 247909
Officially established in Singapore in 1961, the ANZA has helped many newcomers find their feet in Singapore through well-established community events.
In the true spirit of Australians and New Zealanders, members can join various sporting groups such as Australian Rules Football and Cricket.
With the numerous clubs and events available, members will not have an excuse to feel bored. Australians and New Zealanders make up 80% of ANZA's membership, with the remaining members coming from Britain, the US, Holland, Germany, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. Join now by downloading the registration form from the association's website, or drop by the ANZA office to find out more.
British Association of Singapore (BAS)
470 North Bridge Road, #03-06A North Bridge Commercial Complex, Singapore 188735
Set up in 1956 to provide help and support to British expatriate families during their stay in Singapore, the BAS has played an important role in Singapore by helping to establish The British Club and Gleneagles Hospital.
BAS helps its members lead an enriching life by providing an extensive range of sporting and social activities. This non-profit organisation is run mainly by volunteers who also believe in giving back to the community, by regularly being involved in community work and donating to various charities every year.
Join BAS to get discounted household, travel and health insurance with AVIVA, a monthly magazine, and the use of The British Club's facilities at appointed times.
Kowloon Club (KC)
93 Toa Payoh Central, #05-02 Toa Payoh Central Community Building, Singapore 319194
The Kowloon Club was established in 1990 to provide a “helping hand' to Hong Kongers migrating to Singapore. The club assists its members to integrate into local culture by organising various cultural, recreational, educational and charitable activities. All these activities are self-supported by the club members, with some sponsorship from local organisations.
Regular activities include local tours or overseas tours, IT seminars, children balloon-sculpting and golf. To join, download the membership form from its website, fill it up and send it together with an enclosed cheque.
Japanese Association in Singapore (JAS)
120 Adam Road Singapore 289899
A premiere club set up to serve the Japanese community in Singapore, the JAS is a non-profit organisation that provides education in Japanese language for Japanese children residing in Singapore and neighbouring countries.
In addition, it is committed to promoting friendship, cooperation and welfare among its members. Besides managing and maintaining the club's social and recreational facilities, it also manages a clinic.
Cultural and social activities organised by the JAS include choir, nature walks, Chinese painting, flower arrangement, Bridge games, Shogi games, Japanese drums and tea ceremonies. Sporting activities such as Tai Chi, rugby, table tennis and volleyball are also highlights of JAS activities.
Friends of the Museum (FOM)
61 Stamford Road #02-06 Stamford Court, Singapore 178892
While not really an expatriate club or association, the Friends of the Museum (FOM) is a volunteer organisation that offers guiding services and financial support to the Museums of Singapore. It also delivers a broad range of programmes to enhance the knowledge of Asia's history, culture and art for members and the community at large.
FOM membership is open to all and they currently have over 1100 members from 42 different nationalities. The Americans and British currently make up the two largest membership groups. FOM is for anyone who is interested in participating in any of the programmes at FOM, such as the docent (museum guides) programme, book groups, writers group, textile enthusiasts group and trips around places of historical interest in Singapore.
For more information, check its website or drop in at the FOM office between 9am to 2pm (Tuesday to Friday).
Orchard PO Box 619 Singapore 912321
A member of the Singapore Council of Women's Organisations and The International Alliance for Women, PrimeTime was established in 1997 by Junita Woodward, an American with over 20 years of experience within the banking industry.
It is currently the only association in Singapore dedicated to serving the international community of business and professional women. Run entirely by member-volunteers, PrimeTime holds over 90 events on an annual basis with a membership concentration of women in the financial services, marketing/advertising and IT industry.
Women of all nationalities are welcome to join the association, which currently has a good representation of women from over 30 countries. Check its website to find out more.
There are many more expatriate associations than we have space to describe, so if you are looking for one that we have not mentioned, check out the table below: