Greetings from Singapore!
My journey to this wonderful island has been one full of different feelings and emotions of excitement, of apprehension, should I really continue? This is the first time I have left Europe, and it was all on my own! Scary business.
I departed on Saturday at 8:35pm UK time with Singapore Airlines, perhaps the best flights company ever. My experience whilst flying was phenomenal, the staff were ever so friendly and efficient (which are some of the stereotypes of Singaporean’s). This was my first long distance flight, and it was awesome! It was the first time I experienced proper turbulence, which was thrilling, even though at one point the plane just dropped…but that was as exciting as it was scary. I made two friends on this flight, one was from Australia, and the other was from the UK but born in Vietnam. I was surprised at how long we were in conversation for; I never had to take out an electronic device, or use the facilities supplied by Singapore Airlines for entertainment, because we were locked in conversation for most of the 13 hours, except when we were ‘sleeping’. (An impossible thing to do when upright and flying). I landed two days ago at 4pm (Singapore time) and I was overwhelmed at how amazing Changi Airport is. I have never seen a system that is so efficient (a word I am probably going to use A LOT). Immigration was so simple (hahahaha as if I properly believed that). I walked out of the Immigration point and picked up my case as I approached the conveyer belt – seriously, if Singapore can do it so fast, why can’t the rest of the world?! The arrangement Changi Airport had with Taxi’s also surprised me: there is a continuous flow of taxi’s, and one of the airport staff directs each person in the queue to one of the many taxi’s (a service that is incredibly simple, but so effective, and isn’t a free for all). After some difficulty finding out the address of my destination the Taxi driver gave me some very interesting information about Singapore and its architecture.
Once I arrived onto campus, or at least University Town (UTown), I met up with one of the most helpful and lovely people I have met in Singapore so far, Xing Yi Ngiam, or Ngiam for short. He has helped me with everything, from checking in, to learning about various foods and from really useful information to buying a bottle of water for me when a rather rude lady wouldn’t serve me…
I have met lots of great people and I hope to build up fantastic relationships with them all! Being part of an international programme is such a fantastic privilege because it provides no end of contacts, which is crucial for networking later in life, and it is also wonderful to have the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the globe. I have made friends with people from Canada, the USA, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Southeast Asia, Poland, as well as my own country the UK. Some of the Non-UK people have told me that I’m incredibly British…but I think most British people would laugh at that.
The food here is very weird and wonderful, I have tried a reasonable amount thus far, and will continue to try as much as possible, if not everything by the time I leave! I just need to give my stomach time to get used to these new foods. The price of food and drink is so eclectic, at the university dining hall it’s possible to get a delightful meal and a drink for about $4SGD, whereas somewhere else would cost no less than $10SGD. The first two evenings were spent at the UTown dining hall, and last night we went to a place in Clementi and that was lovely! Tonight I spent some time exploring on my own so had a bit of a nibble to keep me going! The one thing I’ve noticed is that because the food is so new, it fills me up really quickly, and then because it’s so hot, I don’t want to eat that much! So I haven’t eaten much since arriving but I’m sure that will change the more I get used to the food. (I am drinking water like a fish though…)
The programme I am on is Southeast Asia in Context, and there is another module called Southeast Asia’s Cultural Mosaic, and part of that is a field-trip to Thailand and Cambodia which I am really looking forward to.
The ironic thing is, I have no knowledge WHAT SO EVER on these subjects. I decided to do the summer course to learn about Gamelan, but the module for that was removed, which left a module on areas of which I have never even read about. I am hoping I will be able to write an essay on a religious subject, because I actually know stuff about that!
For the last few days there has been a haze (that rhymes!). This happens when neighbouring countries (in particular Indonesia) burn trees, and wow, does it sting my eyes!
Today I spent 3 hours in the ICA Building, to get my student pass, which is one of the most tedious and stressful things I have done so far! ARGHGHGHHG TO PAPERWORK.
Pictures will start to arrive soon, I just haven’t really had the time to even get my camera out! Now that all of the paperwork is out of the way, and the course is actually about to begin there is going to be a lot more time to explore. So please tune in for more blogs!