Prior to moving to Singapore for the year, I had never even travelled beyond Europe. What lay ahead of me was a mystery, aside from the wild assumptions strangers told me and the random bits of information I got off google…
If I could go back to a year ago today, this is what I would tell 2019 Poppy.
Firstly, you will not have to live on a omnivorous diet. I was told time and time again that vegetarianism let alone veganism was not well catered for in Singapore and other parts of Asia. I don’t know where these people got their facts from, because they are wrong. I did a whole other blog post on eating vegan in Singapore so, if that’s of interest to you, you can click here.
2. Everything in Singapore is pretty much technology based. So no, you don’t need heaps of cash hidden under your bed just in case. I got myself a Monzo debit card, and it was the most useful thing. I definitely recommend using Monzo as your main mode of cash payment. Moreover, it’s widely accepted globally so I was able to use it in every country I visited too (that included Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan and Australia).
3. It doesn’t matter how far out you live from the city centre so long as you as in close proximity to an MRT station. The MRT is a cross between a train and a shuttle and they put the 147 bus efficiency to shame. With the MRT, you can get almost anyway in the country with ease as there are dozens of stops dotted all over. Plus, the MRT is around 8p for a one way trip (if you’re paying with your Monzo). I was initially extremely worried about being far out of the city centre, however it actually worked out better as properties are much better priced the further out you go and is of little detriment to your social life.
4. It’s hot. I mean really hot. To really imagine this level of heat and humidity, you need to go to a zoo and walk into a reptile house. The feeling of the air almost choking you with it’s density – yep that’s what I felt when I first left the airport. The heat was so bad I broke out in hives. Yes, my body was allergic to the heat. Alas give it a month or so and you become accustomed to sweat patches being an outfit accessory.
5. Singapore is so safe. As much as I love Manchester, I am actually slightly nervous to return after living in a security haven for the past 8 months. In Singapore it is beyond acceptable to meander the streets at 2am post night out alone. You can wear your backpack on your back and not have to fear for the slight nudge of a stranger and that such a nudge may mean that you have just had your laptop stolen. You can leave your phone on a table, walk away to get food and then come back to find your phone still there – yes, I’m serious.
6. You will be able to travel on the weekends, however this is very much dependant on your timetable. There’s no doubt that Singapore is in a prime location to travel cheaply and quickly to nearby countries, so why shouldn’t you make the most of this. Plus, at SMU when you select your timetable, you are able to see what days each class is on – and if you’re lucky, get Fridays and/or Mondays off to allow for more travel time. If the only days you get off are the weekend, I’m sorry to break it to you but you’re really going to struggle to visit anywhere in that amount of time.
7. I already mentioned that it’s hot, but give it a month or so and you will have acclimatised to start wearing jeans (yes, jeans in 30 degree heat) and jumpers to university given the Singaporean love for AC. For my first semester, I had packed a lot of summer clothes given what I was told about the weather. However this would mean I spent a lot of my time in the classroom during 3 hour seminars absolutely freezing. It’s imperative that you pack for a range of weather – including rain! During wet season it would thunderstorm every day (whilst maintaining 30 degree heat… at least you couldn’t tell the sweat from the rain water).
8. Dengue fever is a thing. It’s actually quite a prominent thing that infects thousands of people a year and can be fatal. There is no vaccination for it so the only way to prevent it is to apply mosquito repellent regularly. You can buy some prior to going from the airport, and they also sell it in all pharmacies in Singapore. My was hospitalised for 3 months of his 4 month term because he got bitten by a dengue infected mosquito – it is not a myth and is definitely not spoken about enough!
Lastly, no matter how many stories you hear or how many facts you get off google, you’re never going to be able to actually imagine the amazing experience that is living in Singapore. It is what you make it – so take every opportunity and have the best time you can!