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Kathie May 23rd, 2004 08:03 AM

Neil, I would certainly agree that having a college diploma is no guarantee of competence. But if you're just looking at probabilities, a person who has an earned degree is more likely to have competencies in their area than someone who does not.

Most of the "degrees" sold are KSR are not actually college diplomas, but are certificates for teaching English as a foreign language.

My reaction was to orgy's suggestion that Marc just buy a degree and could then get a job. (Marc said he didn't like the idea, above) There are reputable places that will hire people without degrees or certificates to teach English. Their only requirement is that someone be a native English speaker. Of course, most of those posts are in rural areas of China and would not fulfill Marc's dream of living in Singapore. I admit that I am reactive to the notion that it's ok to get a job with fake credentials because the people looking at your credentials may be wowed by a fancy certificate.

Cicerone May 24th, 2004 03:42 AM

A university degree will definitely make you more employable, and will get you a better paying job, but I would not give up hope entirely. I lived in Singapore for 5 years and knew several people (mostly from the UK and New Zealand) without university degrees who were able to obtain jobs and work in Singapore. A lot depends on how willing your employer is to sponsor you, and whether he can make the case that your skills are specialized enough that a Singaporean could not fulfil them. Generally, without a university degree, this argument is harder to make, but not impossible.

If you are willing to take a local pay package, you would be somewhat attractive to an employer.
However, remember that Singapore is quite expensive to live in in terms of housing expenses, and you would also need to determine your tax status, health insurance status and social security status. You would not qualify for public housing in Singapore, and may find it difficult to live on a local salary. It is virtually impossible to work illegally or off the books in Singapore, although there are other countries where this is possible (see below).

As you are a Canadian citizen, this may make a big difference in your ability to live and work in Singapore. Canada and Singapore are both members of the Commonwealth of nations, made up almost entirely of former British colonies. For member nations, the rules regarding tourist visas are sometimes eliminated or greatly reduced. In addition, some Commonwealth nations offer citizens of their fellow member nations the right to work with reduced requirements regarding work permits. You would need to check what Singapore's requirements would be for Commonwealth citizens who want to live or work there

As a Commonwealth citizen, there are a number of other countries which may be easily accessible to you for employment, many of which are warm and sunny. Australia and New Zealand leap to mind, as do the British Virgin Islands. All three are English-speaking. It would be somewhat easy for you to obtain work in any of thee three, as you can get casual labour in the tourist industry and/or work "off the books", esp. in Australia and New Zealand. I even know US citizens who have worked off the books in Australia.

I would think that living and working in Commonwealth countries would be a pretty hot topic among your friends, at least it always was for my UK, New Zealand and Australian friends when I was younger. Ask around, and you will probably hear experiences form other Canadians who have spent a few years living or working in other Commonwealth nations. I am guessing that there are even books written on the subject, try a web search or your local bookstore. Several places to start your research would be:

1. Commonwealth of Nations -

2. Embassy of Singapore in Canada:

3. Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs -

4. Australian Embassy in Canada:

I agree with the above posters that going back to school is a good idea. However, I would not consider going in Singapore itself, as it would be quite expensive. NUS (the National University of Singapore) and the other universities are very difficult to get into, many Singaporeans themselves are not accepted (they go to school in Canada instead!) I would stick to a good school in Canada. (Just to clarify a point, INSEAD mentioned above, is a graduate business school, and does not offer programs to undergraduates.)

If you are interested in hotel school, Singapore does have a well-regarded school, called SHATEC (Singapore Hotel Association Training and Education Centre). However entry is quite competitive and Singaporeans would probably be given preference. Take a look at or

Take a look at Overseas Digest ( which has a section on teaching overseas. The site has lots of information, links and contacts about teaching and living overseas.

There are many websites that have information and tips on expat life. Try the following titles for searches:

You could also consider volunteer work in various SE Asia countries. Places to start would be:

United Nations Volunteer Program at
Oxfam International at
Habitat for Humanity

marc_rich May 24th, 2004 11:40 AM

Cicerone - thanks so much for the input, haven't had an opportunity to log in recently, but that's some great information there which I will certainly look into. Thanks to all other members too who contributed with their input.

Neil_Oz May 24th, 2004 02:16 PM

Kathie, I think we're in violent agreement, and I agree with your balance-of-probabilities argument. But marc_rich may not like the idea of working in China anyway. It's certainly more challenging than some of Cicerone's options.

There are definitely large numbers of backpackers working in Australia "off the books", mostly in casual and lower-paid positions such as waiting and telemarketing. As a rule and up to a point I don't think the Immigration Department pursues them too vigorously, as they're a handy resource for the tourist industry in some places.

May not be relevant to marc_rich, but there used to be a thing called an "ancestry visa" which allowed a Commonwealth citizen with a British-born parent or grandparent to work in Britain under less stringent conditions than usually apply (firm travel plans and some money in the bank are required). Someone told me that this privilege had been withdrawn, but I'm not sure if that's the case or not. Britain though doesn't meet the warm-weather test.

marc_rich May 24th, 2004 03:42 PM

Britain - nice country, but in many ways exactly what I am trying to get away from. I was actually looking for the "Asian experience" - I really like the people in general and the region just attracts me, that's all.

Australia is like Canada, just warmer, but there's no place like East/SE Asia.

Also, I don't have any British ancestors - they are all from Eastern Europe!!

dsgtc0408 May 25th, 2004 11:57 PM

I asked you the question about what your nationality is because it would make a difference to the sorts of college/university you might end up choosing. So some questions that come to mind:

a) Coming from Canada, if you chose to come to Singapore to continue your degree, presumably attending an American or Canadian university that holds classes here would make the most sense - however take note that many of the universities that operate here through agents are either Australian or British. So a question is what an employer in Canada would find acceptable? To my knowledge there are no Canadian universities represented here; there are some American universities that are second tier; the best I can think of is University of Buffalo (former SUNY Buffalo) with a Bachelors in Business Adminstration. (Perhaps the Canadian High Comm here in Singapore knows more?)

b) Cost: I think that most of the foreign universities represented here charge fairly high tuition. You need to see if the budget permits.

c) Would one of the universities operating here accept any of your prior University/college classes for transfer credit?

For further info on what Sing Government wants, there is a Singapore Consulate in Vancouver (oddly enough, no Sing High Commission in Ottawa).

I'm starting to think it might not be easy to go to University here, but keep plugging!

Cicerone May 26th, 2004 03:40 AM

Marc, with all due respect to Canada, if you think Australia is just like Canada, you need to make another trip to Australia! IMO, Australia is what California would be like if Californians did not take themselves so seriously. . . .much as I loved living in Singapore and Hong Kong, if I could get a good job in Sydney I would be on the next plane.

marc_rich May 26th, 2004 12:14 PM

dsgtc0408: thanks for the info - I have it some thought - but in fiscal terms, university seemed expensive enough here home, let alone abroad. I wouldn't be able to afford tuition in Singapore, there's simply no way.

Cicerone - sorry if I sounded a bit ignorant, but that was just my impression of Australia. Have you even been to Canada? Both countries are big enough to be continents, have five-six cities where 80%+ of the population lives, both are British bastards with HM still in charge (strictly as a symbol) and both seem to be remote. Finally, both are English-speaking and were built by immigrants from all over the world.

A simplistic view, but that was just my impression. I would welcome an opportunity to go to Australia and prove myself wrong.

orgy7 May 26th, 2004 09:02 PM

Look man, Im a late late twenty year old guy. and I can sence you got the itch too get OUT. My advice is do it. take a leave of absence or quit that job, come on over for as long as you can. and scratch that itch.... Hopefully you'll get some thinking done and return home ready too start you life on sure footing.

Everyone will think your nuts. but ignore them. why live a miserable unsure life.. When your on this side of the globe you'll meet plenty of like minded people who will understand exactly what your going threw.
thats enough for the pasotive stuff. depending on where you choose too stay life may be too expensive like SINgapore hong kong... or it may be a bit hard core. like Manila and Bangkok... Money does make life more confortable and the old looney gets you more in BKK, KL, and other cities.

marc_rich May 27th, 2004 04:54 AM

Orgy7: Amen.

You pretty much nailed it. I just want to have enough funds so I am comfortable enough and can survive for a certain period of time.

marc_rich May 27th, 2004 10:56 AM

Orgy7: you're in BKK, aren't you?

bonesaz May 27th, 2004 03:51 PM

Tons of foreigners work in SG without benefit of a college degree. They just happen to be dirt poor Filipinas and Indonesians working as hotel maids and household servants. Maybe try and hook up with a few people on some of the aforementioned ex-pat websites and ask people how they got their jobs. Good luck.

orgy7 May 27th, 2004 05:51 PM

Marc. yep im in bkk. and I can help you with some questions if you choose bkk. for instance it is possible too find apartments for $50 dollars a month but you get just a bed a maybe a squat toilet.

of course many forigners who are short on cash. tend too move down too Pattaya..

Many guys I know. work three too 6 months a year and retturn too thailand for the remaining part of the year..

But like a said Kuala lampore is a good place. and Manila may be easy too live since it is very Americanized in terms of language..

Many of those Filapino ladies you see milling around Orchard street malls are actually part of the murchendize... I guess what ever money they get doing housework is just not enought too live in Singapore and send money back home.

marc_rich May 27th, 2004 07:03 PM

Orgy7: I might have a few questions - is there an e-mail so that I don't clog the travel forum?

Much thanks,


marc_rich May 27th, 2004 07:19 PM

orgy7: my e-mail is [email protected] in case you don't feel very comfortable disclosing your e-mail out in the open, so you contact me at that e-mail and let me know your e-mail; there are a few things I want to discuss privately.


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