At Capital Placement, London and Singapore are the two most popular destinations for students to apply for an international internship. So, we’ve created a country comparison to help you understand what it means to intern in each location.
London, being the capital of England, is known to be one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world due to its friendly migration laws. Since 2004, the number of foreigners living in the UK has increased drastically, with a majority of them living in London. On the other hand, Singapore’s colonial history in the 40s and 50s makes it what it is today: a multi-ethnic country where the Malays, Chinese, and Indians make up the Singaporean citizen population.
Both cities are exciting in their own ways, rising to the top when it comes to business and tourism. Having done an internship in either city will definitely give you an edge in your career, trust us! Plus, pursuing an international internship in London and Singapore will definitely promise a rich, multicultural experience since you will be encountering people from so many different countries. In this article, we compare both cities and highlight the differences that you may want to consider when applying.
1. Cost of living
The first topic in our country comparison is the cost of living. As an intern living abroad, the reality is that you will not earn as much as a full-time employee, so we advise you to spend within your means and according to the cost of living. According to Numbeo, the general cost of living and doing an internship in London is higher than internship in Singapore, including transportation (taxi and trains), restaurant meals, and rent. But since free accommodation is provided for you through a Capital Placement summer internship, we can focus on how much food and travelling will cost. For our graduate internships, we help you find accommodation at a great price in your budget and near to your work – don’t worry, trust the locals!
Eating out is usually the fastest and easiest option; a meal in an inexpensive restaurant in London would cost £15, whereas in Singapore it would cost only £6.80. However, if you’re health-conscious and prefer to make your own meals at home, groceries are actually 14% cheaper in London than in Singapore. Of course, in either country, grocery shopping is always recommended to save money in the long run, especially if you’re cooking for a few people.
The train systems in both London and Singapore are well-built and can get you almost anywhere safely. However, it is cheaper to travel by train to Singapore than in London.
What kind of weather do you like? Are you someone who would worry about your makeup running off during the day? Are you someone who likes stacking on layers of clothing while sipping on hot coffee? Another important aspect to consider when doing a country comparison between an internship in London and Singapore is the climate.
Singapore, a tropical island, lies just beneath the equator and is warm all year round. Being surrounded by the ocean, it is also humid, especially in the daytime. Expect sweat to cover your back if you’re walking under the afternoon sun on a busy day on Orchard Road. But also, imagine how nice it would be to then take a dip in the pool!
London, on the other hand, is known for being cold for at least three-quarters of the year and doesn’t get much sun. You can expect to get cold and rainy weather in the winter months from December to February, and during the summer is the only time it can get as warm as Singapore. If you haven’t lived in a country where it rains consistently, London is definitely the right place for you as you realize the impact that climate has on commuting, the food you choose to eat, and your sleep.
Many of us don’t realize that our bodies have adapted to the climate we grew up in, and so migrating to a country with a different climate will trigger a different response from our bodies, bringing up allergies, lowering our immunity, and changing our complexion.
3. Geographical access
Probably one of the best things to consider whilst doing a country comparison is geographical access. Your time abroad is the most opportune time to travel to different countries in the same continent because quite literally, you will be just around the corner. Flights to nearby countries or cities will be cheaper and faster than if you were to travel from your home country for a once-a-year vacation. So, the question that arises is, what are the nearest vacation spots to London and Singapore? And how do you get there?
From London, there is an extensive system of regular and high-speed trains that can bring you to Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels in just 5 to 6 hours. Just imagine the views you’ll get outside your window while you write in your journal or plan the rest of your weekend trip. For countries that are slightly further, there are always wallet-friendly, low-cost carriers that you can take for surprisingly cheap return prices! Our interns love Ryanair.
On the other hand, Southeast Asian culture is within reach of Singapore. While the closest city you can possibly get to by bus is Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, there are also plenty of destinations you can get to with low-cost carriers in about 3 hours or so. Krabi, Bali, Hanoi, and Sabah are some of the places you can get to quickly if you need a peaceful getaway from the busy city life.
Since you will have weekends off, you know you can visit a different city or country every weekend. Think of it as a deconstructed backpacking trip.
Last, and certainly not least in our country comparison, culture is going to play a huge role in your time abroad. There’s unique ethnic culture, work culture, youth culture, and all kinds of other subcultures in both London and Singapore. We’re going to focus on ethnic makeup.
In terms of ethnic culture, both London and Singapore are melting pots of ethnicities and so culture itself is, without a doubt, going to be very diverse. You’ll have all types of food – Pakistani, Thai and British, for example – and you’re going to hear multiple languages on the trains. The dominant ethnic culture in London is Western, and Singapore, on the other hand, is predominantly Asian and conservative in its practices and norms. Take, for example, romantic culture. In London, it’s probably normal to be publicly affectionate, but the same behaviour may not be well accepted in Singapore.
In Singapore, people are less likely to talk to you on the street if you don’t know them, but in London, it can be quite common to simply make a new acquaintance without having to try very hard. Londoners tend to be a bit more vocal than Asians, who can be slightly more reserved.
With ethnic culture, we say, the further the better. If you’ve grown up your entire life living in a country clearly dominated by a particular ethnic culture, then go try something that’s on the other end of the spectrum! It is going to stretch you uncomfortably, but you are going to return with eyes bigger than ever before.
We’ve just illustrated some of the major differences for our country comparison between Singapore and London. There are also other aspects that you might want to compare, such as healthcare, taxes, or even your shopping options.
You may be wondering: aside from your expenses and lifestyle differences, which city would give you a better value in light of your industry and your career path? That’s a question we are always ready to answer. Workwise, both cities are definitely not short of internship opportunities in various industries, although it can get competitive. In today’s global market especially, there are always newer, technologically-driven demands to be met and your voice could be just what a company has always needed to keep up.
As a final thought for our country comparison, Singapore and London may have different inclinations towards dominant industries, but whichever city you choose, the bold move of deciding to go abroad is one that will reward you greatly! Speak to one of our Capital Placement professionals now to identify the best city for your career path.