Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas on a Foreign Island – Singapore, part 2

By Julian Abraham Chua, Diploma in Business Management Graduate
Ho Ho Ho! It’s Christmas time in Singapore. We may celebrate it by partying or spending time with family. But ever wondered how our exchange students spend their holidays and Christmas in Singapore? Let’s find out! This week, we interview Ann-Christin Hallfahrt from Germany.
Ann-Christin at Raffles Place, Singapore

Julian Abraham Chua is an NYP graduate from School of Business Management (SBM). His passion for writing was ignited when he completed an overseas UK writing course and started contributing to the portal while he was still a student on the campus. He has since written for various magazines and publications including Straits Times, SG Entrepreneurs, Spin Asia, TimeOut Singapore, NTUC lifestyle, Campus magazine and SPCA newsletter. Besides writing, he adores soccer, has his own online business Stationaire and performs with his metal band Grottesca around town.  

Full name: Ann-Christin Hallfahrt
Country/state/hometown: Germany / Niedersachen / Gifhorn
Age: 23  
University: Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences
Course major: Business Administration
How do you find Singapore and the people?      
I really like Singapore so far. The best things I experienced are the weather, the food and getting to know new people. I think a lot of people here are very open-minded and curious about my country. I like how us exchange students are integrated in tutorial classes, as well as outside school.
List your top 3 most memorable experiences in Singapore
1)      Travelling around the city to try different varieties of food and see new things
2)      Visiting Sentosa
3)      Going to Zoukout festival               
What do you like about Singapore?
I like it that you are really in the heart of Asia, and you have the opportunity to visit neighbouring countries and experience new cultures. In Singapore I appreciate the harmonious mix of cultures. It is really nice to travel by MRT and visit new places such as Little India, Chinatown, Marina Bay, Arab street…etc, which are very different from each other!
Ann-Christin at Orchard Road, Singapore
 How do you celebrate Christmas back in your country?
In Germany Christmas is a really big festival. We even start celebrating 4 weeks before Christmas with each of the 4 Sundays before Christmas being "advent-Sunday". We have an advent wreath at home. On the first Sunday, we light one candle and add another one each following Sunday, so that on Christmas eve we have all 4 candles burning. Nearly every city has a Christmas market, where you can eat a lot and drink the famous "Glühwein", which is a warm wine with spice like cinnamon and cloves.
Christmas is celebrated on the 24th December. The 25th & 26th are also considered Christmas public holidays. It is common to have a Christmas tree in every house, which you decorate with candles and Christmas balls.
Another important thing we have is the "Advent calendar" which is a box-like structure with mini drawers. Every child usually gets 1 or 2 advent calendars. You can open one door of the calendar every day from the 1st to the 24th of December, and get a little present each day (mostly sweets). This prepares you for Christmas and makes the days leading up to Christmas more exciting.
An Advent Calendar. Photo Credit: Paperladyinvites
Who do you celebrate Christmas with?
Usually I celebrate Christmas with my parents, siblings and grandparents. When we finished our festivities, I will meet my boyfriend and other friends to go out. The next two days, we will meet the rest of the family to have lunch or dinner together.
 Also what activities do you do and what food do you eat during Christmas?
The famous Christmas dish in Germany is the Christmas goose. My family eats this on Christmas day itself, which is accompanied by red cabbage, potatoes, potato dumplings and sauce. For my family on Christmas eve, we usually cook a 4-course menu with food and dishes we like to eat. Sometimes we have fondue or Raclette.
Christmas Goose. Photo Credit: Mexicanwave
Also, during Christmas eve, some of us go to church in the afternoon or early evening and have dinner and open presents afterwards. When I was younger the presents were the most important things to me, but now the highlight of Christmas is to have a great time together with my family.
I love to watch children's films in the afternoon on Christmas eve, which I have been doing since I was a child. Traditionally they show the same films every year. At about 2pm my grandparents normally arrive at our house, we will have some coffee together and then watch the movies. We start dinner at around 6pm and exchange presents later. Everybody puts their presents under the Christmas tree. In our family we always start the present exchange with a game of dice. Everyone gets to roll a dice, and if you get the number six, you pick your present first. Afterwards, we’ll have some drinks together and go to bed.
Do you plan to celebrate Xmas here? If yes, how do you plan to celebrate?
This is my first tropical Christmas. I will celebrate it with my family and my boyfriend in Singapore. My parents will arrive on 16th Dec, and my brother and boyfriend on 22nd. I think we will go to a restaurant and spend a nice evening together. We don't plan on exchanging presents this year, for me, the best present is to have my family here.
Also, we plan to have Christmas in our apartment with the exchange students. We are planning a potluck meal where everyone will cook a dish native to his /her home country.
What are the 5 most important things to do before Xmas in your personal opinion?
1. Buy presents
2. Go to Christmas markets
3. Decorate the house with Christmas things
4. Bake cookies (I really would like to have an oven in my apartment)
5. Get an Advent calendar
 What is your ideal Xmas experience that you wish to have?
I love Christmas in Germany. But the most important thing is to be together with people I love. So I am really looking forward to experiencing Christmas in Singapore for the first time.
What was the best Xmas present you ever received? Why?
Every year I get really nice things and I like them all. Nowadays, I am not so much into presents, I just want to have a really nice time, enjoy the atmosphere and of course have really nice food!

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