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'I was told I was overdoing it': Malaysian laments drop in her productivity after moving back from Singapore

'I was told I was overdoing it': Malaysian laments drop in her productivity after moving back from Singapore
PHOTO: Screengrab/TikTok/Harrisk158

Karen Harris left Sabah in 2001 to continue her studies in Nanyang Polytechnic.

After graduating, she began her working life in Singapore as a sales advisor at cosmetics company The Body Shop.

It is expected that such a life-changing move, from living in Malaysia to Singapore, would include a period of adaptation.

But what many did not warn Karen about was the supposed need to adapt again should she ever choose to return home.

In a TikTok slideshow shared last Tuesday (Jan 9), Karen opened up about how she navigated the difficulties of having to adjust her efficiency levels to match that of her environment.

In her eyes, the difference in efficiency levels between Singaporeans and Malaysians is stark.

The 40-year-old told AsiaOne she noticed early on just how committed Singaporeans were to their schedules.

She associated characteristics such as competitiveness and efficiency with being Singaporean.

And Karen felt like she needed to change in order to be "on par" with her Singaporean peers. 

Admittedly, the early days were a struggle but having such a challenging environment helped Karen up her game, she said.

She had a fear of lagging behind, and being industrious was a given, be it in school or at work.

"I was always reporting one hour earlier for work. If it's required to put in 100 per cent, [I] would be doing 120 to 150 per cent," she wrote.

This meant clocking in workdays of more than 12 hours in exchange for "above average wages".

And after a decade of living in Singapore, Karen had the opportunity to relocate to Johor.

What she did not realise was just how much she's changed during her stint in Singapore.

"I was told I'm too uptight, too detailed, too particular," she revealed.

As a response, Karen chose to lower her efficiency levels to, in her words, "live less like a Singaporean".

An issue that could be settled in minutes here in Singapore might take weeks in Johor, she lamented.

Re-adjusting back home

Karen returned to her hometown of Sabah five years ago and, unfortunately, it did not seem to be the sweetest of homecomings.

She discovered that there were even more adjustments for her to make.

"I was told I was overdoing it," Karen said, as accusations of her stepping on the toes of others came her way.

"How can we work on efficiency when the environment and culture don't let us?" she asked rhetorically.

In the comments section, netizens (presumably Malaysians) echoed her sentiments, suggesting that they face similar struggles.

However, there were others who believed that working in Singapore may not be all that great either.

"The effort, overtime, expectations are way too high. Even Europeans are laid back compared to us here in Singapore," one TikTok user commented. 

ALSO READ: Malaysian regrets coming to Singapore for work, cites toxic work environment

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