By Emma Phillips, Singapore Management University, Singapore
I have been in Singapore for just over a month now and time truly has flown. August and the start of September have brought many opportunities. Here is what I’ve done, how I met people and my highlights of Southeast Asia so far.
For many of us on exchange at SMU, accommodation has been the biggest challenge. I would recommend you start looking as soon as possible as it is expensive and hard to come by. The first couple of days settling into my accommodation was a rollercoaster. I arrived in a tiny room (which I would be sharing) and a kitchen with no hobs. In the end, it has turned out fine. As a result of the large Hawker culture in Singapore, some may argue that eating out is cheaper than buying groceries. The food tastes a lot better than what I would cook too! This is a reminder that others will be in the same position, and everything happens for a reason.
The rest of my week was spent laying by the pool, going to the beach, and sorting out admin with the university. On Singapore’s National day I watched the fireworks. This was a beautiful way to end my first week.
Despite the fact that my first seven days had gone pretty smoothly, the only other exchange students I had met were all English. So, the next day I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go for dinner with a group of people I had never met before. After dinner we watched the light show and explored the city.
One of the girls invited me to do the tree-top walk the next day. I was hesitant due to the early start however, I tried to maintain the mindset ‘you only regret the things you do not do’. This spontaneous decision turned out to be one of the best days in Singapore so far. On the walk I met so many people from all over the world and I saw lots of monkeys! After the walk we went for some lunch and then to the beach. The warm weather and beaches are two of my favourite things about Singapore.
A couple of days later the university work started. The teaching style is very different from Manchester. Firstly, there are no lectures, only seminars made up of around 40 students. There are lots of group presentations. These are beneficial as they really consolidate your learning and they have allowed me to meet more of the local students. The negatives regarding university in Singapore are that classes are three hours long and class participation is assessed. Sometimes I find it hard to stay focused.
During the third and fourth weeks I further immersed myself into the culture via visiting China Town and Little India. There are temples you can visit and lots of food from all over Asia.
I also travelled to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and a couple of islands in Indonesia. Singapore is the perfect study abroad destination if you would like easier access to countries which are thousands of kilometres away from Manchester. Get ready for some travel blogs!