On the evening of the 5th of May 2011, we had the privilege of being invited to a reception at the residence of the Norwegian Ambassador, Ms. Janne Julsrud. The evening began with a mixer, where students from SMU mingled with Norwegian students on exchange in Singapore, and a number of distinguished Norwegians living in Singapore.
Our hosts also discussed some of the factors that make Singapore an attractive place to conduct business activities with Norway. Among these factors, is the strong geographical position and shipping industry in Singapore. Singapore’s small size also makes it easy to integrate the different services, such as the finance, legal, docking and ship-repair industries, all in the same place. Additionally, Singapore’s relatively stable government encourages shipping activities, and reduces political uncertainty in the area. Shipping is also strongly affiliated with the offshore oil refining and storage industries; Norway is one of the key oil exporters in the world.
Aside from the shipping industry, the technology sector is also growing in Singapore, as can be seen from the increasing number of technological parks here. Also, Singapore is well positioned to be a springboard into the rest of South-East Asia, which is also developing technologically, be it in innovation or component manufacturing.
As the evening progressed, we were treated to a variety of Norwegian snacks, including the famous Norwegian cheese, which was served with waffles and jam. Personally, I felt that Norwegian foods tend to be treated, to preserve the quality of the meat, be it smoked salmon, cured meat, or even cheese, which is curdled milk, and this gives Norwegian foods a unique taste which combines the taste of the meat with various spices and herbs. The mood was relaxed, and students from both countries began chatting again, about various topics, ranging from must-see items in Norway, to the political and cultural differences between our two countries.
All in all, it was an enriching experience, as culture is one of the areas that one cannot simply read about, but must interact and experience for oneself. The opportunity to interact with actual Norwegians in itself is invaluable, and we greatly appreciate this opportunity to experience a slice of Norwegian culture before our visit to Norway itself.
– Ho Bao Yuan