Study exchange was always a top priority in my university experience, so when the paperwork was all finalised and approved; I prepared my mind and body for an exciting adventure. I was expecting Singapore to be a more Western version of Asia, but I was definitely proven wrong. It’s eclectic mix of Chinese, Malay, Western and Indian cultures have seamlessly melded to create a unique Singaporean culture of its own.
When I stepped out of the nicely air-conditioned Changi airport in Singapore, the humidity hit me like a heat wave. Coming from the chilly winter days in Sydney meant that it was a shock to the system. Nonetheless, I have adapted to the warm weather and have embraced tank tops and shorts for every occasion.
Luckily I was able to score cheap housing on campus in a decently sized shared room with an ensuite style bathroom. The first few days at Nanyang Technological University were filled with making new friends, shopping for supplies and exploring this new land that I would now call home for the next 4 months. Their MRT train system and buses are extremely easy to use and also convenient, with a train arriving every 2-3 minutes. I also happily discovered that the food on campus and at Hawker Centres outside were super cheap with meals ranging from $0.80-$7. My roommate did not arrive from Switzerland until a few days later but we instantly became great friends. Both locals and other international students are extremely friendly, and there are a whole lot of on-campus events and Facebook groups hosting trips and gatherings for exchange students.
The first weekend was the Golden Jubilee of Singapore’s independence which meant parties, celebrations and great shopping sales. The streets, shops, restaurants, trains and buses were covered in posters celebrating this momentous occasion. A whole group of us also got to experience the live fireworks and festivities along the beautiful and iconic Marina Bay. Overall, it was a great introduction and first impression of Singapore as we got a glimpse of their strong national pride.
As the weeks carried on, enrolment for subjects began and the workload started to slowly pile on. Determined to make the most of my experience, I decided to treat myself to some wine and cheese at the Epicurean Market, which was an annual food event hosted at Marina Bay. Let’s just say, there were no grumbly tummies that weekend.
As an exchange student from overseas, we were treated to a long weekend during the recent Singaporean election. I snapped up the opportunity and along with a few other Australian students, packed our bags and headed off to Hong Kong for 4 days. It was a fun-filled jam-packed adventure as we were immersed in the hustle and bustle of the busy Hong Kong city life complete with bright lights, shuffling crowds and delicious street food. One of the many perks of studying in South East Asia; especially Singapore, is that travelling to neighboring countries is inexpensive and well worth it. A whole new culture and atmosphere, just a short flight away.
It is currently 6 weeks into semester and I have made a whole load of local Singaporean and international friends from Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Japan and America. I’ve partied hard, studied hard, and am positive that this is only the beginning as I look forward to more great friends, great food and great memories.
EXCHANGE MOTTO: In Singapore, it’s never too early for ice-cream.