Taiwan in a Weekend

Singapore -> Taipei

One of the great things about living in Singapore is the travel opportunities, and getting to go away on weekends. Last term me and my friends went to watch the lantern festival in Pingxi and spent the weekend in Taiwan, here’s how we did it.

Day 1: Taipei

So the flight to Taiwan takes around 4 hours, depending on which flight you get, so after arriving we made our way to our hostel. To get to the hostel we took the MRT, in the airport you can buy both phone sims and travel cards. The Taiwan metro card is also a key chain, and they’re very cute, for example mine is a Snoopy key chain! The first thing we noticed was the change in temperature, as we visited in February the temperature was around 16 degrees Celsius, which is quite a change from the 33 degrees we had gotten used to. We spent the afternoon going around the old town in Taipei and visiting some of its beautiful temples. This was all free and the photos were beautiful! We made our way to the walking street for dinner and shopping. The main thing worth noting is looking up, most shops and restaurants are upstairs rather than at street level. There’s lots of cool and quirky bars and restaurants for example, ours was underwater themed and had swings!

Day 2: The Festival

The festival is held in Pingxi / Shifen which is not in Taipei. Instead we decided to first visit Jiufen and then go to Shifen. To get there we were able to take a bus direct from Taipei. Jiufen is an old town in the mountains, with great views of the coastline and lots of market stalls and things to buy. If you have time it’s definitely worth staying for lunch and watching the view. From here we went to The Lantern Festival. The transport to the festival is fairly organised, as you’re able to get a bus or a train. Once you get there you can buy dinner and drinks from the stalls and have a look around. It gets busy very quickly, and the transport back does end before midnight – so it’s worth checking times and giving yourself enough time to be there (for reference we spent just over two hours at the festival). You also have the option of buying a lantern with your friends, you can decorate it and set it off with the others. Whilst there we got very lucky as a local resident offered us tickets to set off a lantern inside the venue which is where the main lantern releases happen. This was just by pure chance what we were able to do this but if you get the chance I would really recommend it, as it was a very special experience.

Day 3: Taipei

On our final day we spent time going around Taipei some more. We visited the Chiang Kai – Shek memorial which was beautiful, there is also a changing of the guards ceremony which is very elaborate and cool to watch. Whilst it was the start of cherry blossom season we didn’t have time to get out of the city to find any, but the people who did really recommended it! Another recommended activity is Taipei 101, however because of the time of year we were not able to go outside to see the view. An alternative to paying for the view is to climb Elephant Mountain, which is beautiful for sunrise and sunset.

We only spent three days in Taiwan, but it’s definitely somewhere I would go back to! It’s a great mix of city life and culture.

Moving to Singapore: Helpful extra info that’s useful to know!

Ellie Thompson, NUS, Singapore

Let’s be honest, moving to the Singapore is stressful, from trying to get your bag to match cabin weight, to saying goodbye to all your home friends. It’s overwhelming and more than a little bit manic. So, to help with this stress, here’s a small break down of information that should make the transition a little bit easier!

Money

In Singapore card and cash are used frequently, so it is very rare to come across places that do not accept both. That being said I would really recommend bringing cash with you when you first arrive. Food for both UTown and PGP are in Hawker -Type Centres, and whilst you can pay on card some find it easier to pay in cash. Equally you’ll probably be getting a taxi from the airport, which again is made easier with cash. If you were to use card, I would really recommend Monzo. The useful thing about Monzo is that you can use it in airports, so if you have a stop over you can still buy water and snacks without worrying about having left over money. You can also pay with Grab. Grab is the Singapore version of Uber with an extra section called Grab Pay, here it works like a normal debit card but you pay through the app. Finally, there is also the EZ-Link card. This is a metro card that also works to pay for; printing, washing, transport, and other groceries. It is a widely accepted form of payment and can be bought across Singapore but specifically from convenience stores on campus or at 7/11.

Transport

The EZ -Link card works for the bus and MRT. The transport system itself is very extensive across Singapore and cheap, as you only pay for the number of stops rather than a flat rate. The closest MRT station to campus is Kent Ridge and you can get there for free by NUS bus. NUS have a free bus system to take you around campus, which is extremely useful as the campus is huge. To navigate this, I recommend you download the NUSNext Bus app which is the campus bus timetable and bus routes. The only negative to this is that the campus bus system stops running at 11pm and is reduced service on the weekend. As I mentioned Grab is the same as Uber and is very popular, particularly for the first few days Grab is a really useful way of getting around Singapore. Finally, I would recommend downloading the Citymapper app, not only does this work in the UK, but can also be used for the MRT system and buses.

Plugs

My final piece of advice is to bring plug adaptors. Whilst Singapore has UK plug sockets, some items from IKEA are the European plug system! Also, if you plan to travel you will need some adaptors for the surrounding countries!

Hopefully this should provide some logistical help with moving to Singapore!

Semester Two as a Year long exchange student

By Chloe Coradetti, Mechanical Engineering, The National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore

Hellooo Manchester,

After having the time of my life travelling during 6 weeks over Christmas Break, it is time to go back to Uni!
The majority of exchangers stay only for one semester. Therefore, the National University of Singapore was expecting a whole new batch of fresh new exchange students. I was excited to meet some new people and be one of the “ancient” … basically a local Lah (singlish exclamation mark).
Additionally, the deeper bonds created during Christmas while travelling with my UK exchanger friends is going to be greatly valuable as they were almost all staying in NUS for a year as well.
Singapore never felt more like home than when you start off fresh a new semester in a familiar environment with your friend-family! What an awesome feeling to be back!!

Penang pic
Study break mid semester 2 in Penang; it’s all about the banter with friends in the tropical jungle, the arty streets and the deliiiicious food! Last trip … No more travelling money! You’ve gotta be jealous of the new exchangers with an untouched travel fortune to spend 

Continue reading “Semester Two as a Year long exchange student”

Christmas Holidays

By Chloe Coradetti, Mechanical Engineering, The National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore

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Stumbled upon a free art/music festival in Tokyo: We ❤ Japan

Hello Manchester,
I hope that you had a lovely Christmas holiday, I sure did!
Here is a formatted report of my adventures in chronological order.

Continue reading “Christmas Holidays”

First Few Weeks in Hong Kong – Initial Reflections

Anthony Bladen – The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour
Victoria Harbour from Kowloon

I have been at CUHK for almost three weeks now and while everyone at Manchester has just finished exam season, here at CUHK we only have one more week of classes until the Chinese New Year break – meaning I have a lot to talk about!

Room View
Room View

Continue reading “First Few Weeks in Hong Kong – Initial Reflections”

Where has the year gone?!

By Alex Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

“Hong Kong is a city of paradoxes, where bamboo coexists with concrete, and temples are neighbours with Gucci” – Hong Kong Coconuts.

I read an article about a foreign photographer, Kyra Campbell who really captures the true essence of Hong Kong. The article has already initiated my reminiscence of Hong Kong, and I haven’t even left yet! I really will miss the diversity of this culture. Superimposing the ‘old’ and ‘new’ juxtaposed features of Hong Kong together in one photo is really representative of life here. Below is one of my favourite photographs of hers, merging skyscrapers with dried fish – a Hong Kong favourite.

https://www.facebook.com/kyra.campbell.photography/photos/pb.355840581247937.-2207520000.1428839958./430982560400405/?type=3&theater
Kyra Campbell

https://www.facebook.com/kyra.campbell.photography/photos/pb.355840581247937.-2207520000.1428839958./430982560400405/?type=3&theater

With the semester rapidly drawing to a close, I am becoming increasing saddened that I have a mere few weeks left in HK. This has been such a life-changing experience and I already know that it has moulded me as a person in many ways; I feel I am far more self-motivated and sufficient. I am ensuring that I cram as much as I can into the next few weeks to complete my Hong Kong bucket list alongside working toward my final exams and deadlines.

Since I last posted I took a weekend trip to Taiwan, which was just beautiful and was a well-needed study break! A strange mix of Chinese, Japanese and Aboriginal cultures make up Taiwan based upon its rocky history. There was so much to pack in here, we definitely needed more time to see Taiwan in all its glory, but whilst there we went to hot springs, temples, mountains, night markets and tea plantations to name a few. I really want to head back to Taiwan at some point!

Taiwanna go back!
Taiwanna go back!

Elephant Mountain
Elephant Mountain

Juifen
Juifen

Last week I had the pleasure of having my mum and little brother visit me for a week, and have loved being able to show them a little snippet of what my life has been like for the past eight months. Like me, this was their first time in Asia, so they were really dazzled by what Hong Kong has to offer. Hikes, temples, islands, introducing them to my friends and Asian cuisines were some things we got up to. I’m so glad they were able to visit me, and it really has completed my Asian adventure! I now have a busy week of exams and deadlines to get through before the final exam period and before I am able to travel a little around Asia before returning back to reality in the UK. Hong Kong, it really has been a blast!

Lion Rock Hike with the family
Lion Rock Hike with the family

Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau Island

Yesterday's Boat Party
Yesterday’s Boat Party

Chinese New Year – Gong Hey Fat Choy!

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

I cannot believe that February is drawing to a close, now the Chinese New Year festivities are over and mid-terms are around the corner, I need to get my head down (I’m writing this post first though, as it’s much more fun!).

Spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong has been amazing; many exchange students took the week off as an opportunity to travel. I was intending to travel to Borneo, but had so many issues with booking flights that I couldn’t go. This has been somewhat a blessing in disguise as I’ve been able to experience the CNY festivities in Hong Kong, meet a bunch of new people and had some spare time to catch up on school work and apply for internships (I’m desperate to prolong my time here!).

The festivities for Chinese New Year last well over a week. In the lead up to New Year, locals head to flower markets which are teeming with beautiful flowers; namely orchids, blossom trees, lilies and this tree with odd looking oranges on it. Other merchandise is also sold here; in amongst the busy crowd, toy sheep are shoved in your face by sellers, “Missy Missy, sheep also comes in pink!”, and there are other beautiful traditional gifts. I bought a lovely hand-made wind chime from the loveliest elderly ladies.

Orchids on Orchids
Orchids on orchids

Orange, Lemon, Peach, Apricot?
Orange, lemon, peach, apricot

You want a pink one, Missy?

The main Chinese New Year celebrations take place during the first three days of the lunar New Year. On the first day there was a fabulous parade in the evening with Chinese dragons, big floats, the biggest sheep you’ve ever seen and dancers from around the world. The second day consisted of a huge spectacular fireworks show, and on the third day there was a full day of horse racing at the famous Sha Tin racecourse.

All of which were so great – the atmosphere at each of these events was just unbeatable. Chinese New Year is the biggest and most celebrated festival in Hong Kong, and there are still other New Year traditions I wish to partake in before they’re over. I particularly want to visit a ‘Wishing Tree’ in the New Territories, which is an age-old tradition here in Hong Kong. Locals write their wishes down and tie them to traditional fruits then throw them onto the lucky tree in hope that they come true. The faith and religious nature of Asia is so lovely; if wishes come true I believe they return to where they made the wish to give thanks to the gods for granting it.

New Year Parade
New Year parade

Just a little sheep
Just a little sheep

Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Gong Hey Fat Choy!

It is year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram this year – the Chinese don’t seem to be quite sure which animal it is. “Gong Hey Fat Choy!” is how you wish people a Happy Lunar New Year in Cantonese, but it translates as wishing you happiness and good fortune.

A gentle reminder

By Callum Campbell (National University of Singapore, Singapore)

With all the travelling and the constant tropical climate it has been really easy to forget the real reason why I am in Singapore – to study. The upcoming exams, however, have acted as a gentle reminder of this aspect.

Managed to find time to watch David Beckham turn on the Christmas lights
Managed to find time to watch David Beckham turn on the Christmas lights

With only a couple of days now until I finish and travel back to England, it would be easy to lose track of revision, but it is important that I maintain my determination and motivation over this last stretch. What does not make this easier is the fact the majority of other exchange students have finished and left to travel around the region to relaxing beaches and beautiful countries while I am stuck revising.

Just a few more days...
Just a few more days…

With four exams I am doing the same workload as I would have been doing in Manchester, however, each of my modules range from different subject backgrounds to academic years. This means that the studying has been very diverse and at times more complex.

The largest and most notable difference with exams in Singapore compared to those in England is that the marking is done on a bell curve, meaning that a small proportion of the class can achieve the top grade and the largest amount will achieve middle marks, while a small number will obtain the lowest. This system comes with its positives and negatives as although some members of the class will fail, the bell curve makes it hard to do so. However, this also means that it is actually harder to achieve the highest grade and therefore has the potential to make fellow classmates slightly more competitive with one another, but thankfully this is not something I have experienced.

 

An illustration as to how the bell curve system works
An illustration as to how the bell curve system works

As an exchange student though, my grades from NUS will be taken and converted into Manchester results based on a number of factors, meaning when I am told my results in the first instance, I am likely to have little idea of what they mean in terms of English grades.

Just as unpredictable as my results for the first semester is the current dramatic and drastic change of weather, ranging between beaming sunlight and monsoon storms within a matter of hours. One of the strangest things to comprehend out here is the fact that the weather is still above 20oC, yet it’s December… Christmas is less than a month away and I’m still wearing shorts and flip-flops?

P1050686

Speaking of Christmas, I recently found out the news that I will be notified by NUS regarding my grades a couple of days before Christmas, meaning there is the potential to either make or break the festive period. Thankfully, I am feeling confident of what I have achieved during my time in Singapore and feel assured it will be a time to celebrate on all fronts.

 

A second home

Living on the doorstep of South East Asia

By Callum Campbell (National University of Singapore, Singapore)

It’s been four months since I arrived in Singapore, and life here has become the norm. However, a quick glance at the calendar and I realised that, not only is Christmas next month, but I will be heading home in less than five weeks. Time has literally flown by and it still feels like yesterday when I was even considering applying for this opportunity, a decision I will never regret.

A second home?

Since my last blog there has been SO much going on. I’ve met countless amazing people from all over the world, travelled the beautiful region of Southeast Asia, seen some amazing events and sights in Singapore and (the real reason I’m here) knuckled down with university work. With so much going on, I thought I would attempt to highlight just a few stand-out moments of my adventure so far.

Although registration for the student visa and the enrolment of classes was a tedious process, I was soon able to settle into a routine and adapt to my new lifestyle in Singapore. The city is a very safe and clean place, which means travelling around late a night on the metro doesn’t involve constantly worrying about who’s around. The NUS campus itself is also really good ,with a number of high quality facilities and study areas, including a 24-hour Starbucks.

Being located in the centre of Southeast Asia, I have been able to travel to some of the most beautiful countries in the world ‘on the cheap’. My very first trip was to the island of Bintan in Indonesia, which is only a ferry ride away from Singapore. A group of us, made up of English, Irish, American and French students, stayed in wooden huts on stilts above the sea, which typified the relaxing experience of a place that is relatively untouched by tourism. The accommodation became even more bizarre when we realised that the owner had a fully grown shark as a pet…

Our accommodation, Bintan Style
Our accommodation in Bintan

A few weeks later, back in Singapore, the world renowned Formula 1 arrived and literally took over the city, with the racetrack built on the streets used by everyday traffic. I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the race, and being within metres of the track and seeing some of the world’s best racing drivers provided an exciting adrenaline rush.

This was after many attempts
This was after many attempts

Reading week soon came around, and this meant it was time for another trip. A collection of us travelled to Bali and the Gili Islands in Indonesia. Bali, a popular tourist destination, was beautiful especially with its dominating volcanos; however, the sight of hotels and the impact of globalisation was obvious as I travelled around the island. In comparison, the Gili Islands was a place that was literally paradise. Out of the three islands I visited Gili Trawangan, which has a population of around 500 people, and horse and carts are used as transport because no cars are allowed. The golden beaches and crystal clear water also presented us with a perfect opportunity snorkel and dive.

A volcano in Bali
A volcano in Bali

Para, Para, Paradi
Para-, Para-, Paradise!

After a refreshing week away, it was soon time to get back into study mode and attempt to forget about the lush beaches. Thankfully, the warm climate of Singapore made this transition much easier. While remaining on top of my studies at NUS, I was also able to explore more of the city that I now call home, with visits to the Botanical gardens, Little India and Marina Bay Sands, to name a few. A group of us also visited the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo, where we were able to see a number of unique animals in a completely different setting.

Little India
Little India

There are actually two elephants there
There are actually two elephants there.

However, once a few deadlines were met, it was time for my next adventure. This time I travelled through Malaysia with a Danish and an American student. We first flew to Penang, an old British colonial town, where we rode Asia’s steepest train, captured some of the most breathtaking views and got lost in the jungle. In the latter part of the trip we travelled by bus through the Malaysian countryside before arriving in the capital, Kuala Lumpur. It was nice to experience a city that was raw and vibrant compared to the well planned, orderly Singapore.

The steepest train in Asia, Penang
Penang

The iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur
The iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

And it was not long after arriving back from Malaysia that I was already off on my final trip (for now) to Bangkok, Thailand. Having previously visited the city last year, it was nice to go back and experience it with a different group of friends and explore the city in greater depth. The welcoming Thai people and the amazingly rich culture really makes Bangkok such a fantastic place.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok
The Grand Palace in Bangkok

It may be hard to believe, but amongst all the travelling I have in fact been studying too. Having started lectures in August while friends were still enjoying the lengthy summer holiday, I have taken the opportunity to test my academic ability in a completely different country and culture. Just a few highlights of studying at NUS so far have included working in groups with Singaporean and international students while also learning about Singapore and Asia in greater depth. As the last few deadlines come to an end and with the exams fast approaching, the feeling that the semester abroad is coming to an end is beginning to kick in.

Of course it is going to be so nice to get back to the UK and see friends and family, but there are so many aspects of this adventure that I don’t want to end. It’s also going to be interesting arriving back in England in the peak of winter having adapted to the tropical climate of Singapore.

Time really does fly when you're having fun
Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

I look forward to updating you again soon, which will be my final blog entry while in Singapore.

Academic Differences – UK to HK

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

  • SUBJECT CHOICES
    Despite choosing and finalising subjects before arriving in Hong Kong by utilising the online subject choice information for PolyU, which was both informative and useful, I still ended up changing a few modules in the Add/Drop period. Unlike Manchester, you can choose any subjects from an inbound exchange list and change your subjects in the Add/Drop period, which is the first two weeks of the semester. I attended my scheduled classes and additional subjects that I thought I might be interested in, in case I did not like or find the modules I had already chosen to be suitable. I would recommend doing so because I rearranged as I ended up changing some modules because they turned out to be quite different to what I was expecting, so I selected more appropriate classes. I also rearranged my timetable so that I had Friday as my day off so I have the freedom to take weekend trips away. At PolyU I take five subjects as opposed to three in Manchester. Five subjects is the recommended credit weighting for PolyU, which means a more packed weekly schedule than Manchester.
  • RESOURCES
    PolyU use Blackboard like Manchester, so you can access lecture slides and view grades and so on. PolyU connect is a separate website, similar to MyManchester, which is home to other resources like library information, exam timetables etc. Unlike Manchester, some lecturers print out handouts of the lecture slides for students.
  • PROFESSORS
    Before arriving, I was advised to address lecturers by their formal name i.e. Dr. or Professor, however all of my lecturers prefer to be addressed by their first name. I suggest to address the lecturers by how they introduce themselves.
  • ASSESSMENT WEIGHTING
    Assessment weighting varies with subject choices: most are 100% coursework based or 50% exam, 50% coursework for Fashion subjects. The Textiles co-ordinator here advised the exchange students to take 100% coursework modules so we can make the most of travelling whilst here once the semester ends, however I have two modules that have end of semester exams which finish early on in the exam period so I still have time to travel, so don’t let the fact that a module has an exam weighting deter you from choosing it.
    In addition to this, most exchange students are graded on a Pass/Fail basis, but for Materials students our year abroad is graded and counts towards our final grade.
  • WORKLOAD
    Due to the fact that I take five modules here, I find that I have a larger workload compared to at Manchester. Although there are many more assignments, they are smaller projects, with less weighting towards your final grade compared to Manchesters’ usual few but weighty essays and end of semester exam in the Materials department. Most of my group presentations, reports and midterms count for only 10-20% of my final grade. Therefore, to keep on top of my work I quite often utilise my time in between classes to keep on top of assignments.
  • ASSESSMENTS
    Unlike what I am used to in the Textiles department at Manchester, there are midterm exams and a big focus on group assignments here. For each assignment you need to submit a hard copy and a CD copy, I have not yet handed in assignments through Blackboard so assume this is not utilised at PolyU. The majority of my assessments so far at PolyU have been group presentations and reports which I am not used to as I find there is a heightened focus on individual work at Manchester. It is not difficult to communicate and work with the local students at all, I find the group work enjoyable and worthwhile, however, often groups are large and are sometimes impossible to co-ordinate.
  • EXTENDED LEARNING
    Similarly to Manchester, there are field trip opportunities and careers talks that you can attend to which you sign up for online or in person. Factory visits to China are also usually organised here, however, the University have been denied this year as the factories haven’t the time which is disappointing, but there are many other great resources here in Hong Kong to learn from first hand.
    I have chosen to study Mandarin as one of my modules whilst here which I would really recommend as I’m thoroughly enjoying it and it is acknowledged on your academic transcript when you graduate.
  • GRADING
    You can find PolyU’s grading system on their Inbound Exchange FAQ page here, but they only grade in terms of A, B, C etc. and on an unfamiliar scale of 0 to 4.5.  I am not entirely sure how to translate these marks into percentages, however one of my local friends has told me that 80% or above is roughly a B to A grade, so this would equate to a first or high 2:1 at Manchester. It is difficult to say specifically how the grades translate to the UK, especially as for each assignment results are usually curved/changed in comparison to the standard of work produced. A C grade is a pass here, which I think is roughly 60%, so overall the percentages you should expect to get are roughly 20% higher than what you would receive in Manchester.

Settling into life in HK

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

So Hong Kong has been my new home for two weeks already, I have no idea where the time’s gone!

It feels like so long since my departure from the UK and I’m surprised at how easily I’ve settled in and how welcoming the country is as a whole. There is perfect marriage of East-meets-West here which I think has made the transition of moving here so easy! I really cannot stress enough how amazing and intriguing I am finding Hong Kong is, I absolutely love it and can’t wait to really start immersing myself in the culture. The locals are super friendly and really go out of their way to help you with directions and generally show you how things are done over here; I thought there would be more of a language barrier but there really isn’t!

Upon my arrival in HK late at night, I took a taxi to halls which I was slightly worried about as the taxi driver didn’t speak much English, but luckily I had screen-shotted the address in Cantonese on my phone. PolyU has a buddy scheme where exchange students are paired with a local student to help them with settling in and getting to know Hong Kong, so many exchange students’ buddies met them at the airport to help them navigate to the university halls, which is so helpful. My buddy was travelling around Europe when I arrived but I have met him since and he has been such a help and opened my eyes to many aspects of Hong Kong that I would not have otherwise discovered.

Over the first few days in Hong Kong, I spent time getting to know other students, the university campus and sorting out the bare essentials for setting up my new life here. On the first day, a few local students gave myself and other exchange students a mini tour of campus and took us to Ikea so we could make our rooms a little more homely!

In terms of travel, an Octopus card is used to get around Hong Kong by all means of transport (MTR, trains, trams, buses) and also at supermarkets, to top up your phone bills, print work at uni, you name it! (Take note the rest of the world!) You can pick up an Octopus card from any MTR station and then apply for a student one with half price rates which takes about 2 weeks to process. Phone-wise, I got a SIM from China Mobile which is on a really good plan. I paid 80 HK dollars initially and then my pay as you go plan costs me 30 HK dollars every 10 days (about £2.50) which gives me unlimited calls and texts to Hong Kong numbers and unlimited 3G which is so handy with group messaging and organising events. I have decided not to get a bank account here as my cashcard works well and a previous student told me that she never used the Hong Kong bank account that she opened but if you decide you want to open one there is a bank on campus.

The university could not have been more helpful so far with orientation processes, adding and dropping subjects, setting up events and so on, I doubt you will experience any trouble with academic issues as the university is so informative and the International Affairs Office is so friendly and accessible. I cannot stress enough how much I would encourage students to take the study abroad experience as it is quickly becoming the best decision I have ever made!

My Hong Kong bucket list is also taking shape! I’ve ticked off meeting people from around the world, making an incense wish at a temple and getting my fortune told. Learning Mandarin is also in progress. I’ve attached a few pictures of what I’ve been up to so far, I am surprised at how much exploring I’ve managed to fit in already amongst attending uni, but I can’t wait to continue exploring Hong Kong and experiencing everything it has to offer!

If you have any questions about Hong Kong or PolyU don’t hesitate to contact me on alexandra.ure@student.manchester.ac.uk.

harbour and shipharbour at night

The Harbour Day and Night

harbour groupthe harbour

Harbour at Night

wong tai sinflower market

Wong Tai Sin Temple and Flower Market

harbourthe harbour daytime

The Harbour and Avenue of Stars

repulse bay

St Stephen’s Beach

laantern festivallantern fe

Yesterday’s Mid-Autumn Festival / Lantern Festival

Shek O Beachshek o

 

Shek O Beach

My First Week in Singapore

Kyran Clarke (National University of Singapore, Singapore)

I’m all settled in now after my first week in Singapore. It has been a very hectic but enjoyable week. When I arrived I was met by my National University of Singapore (NUS) buddy. They stayed with me for half a day and were incredibly helpful. Not only did they help me get to my accommodation but they showed me around campus, pointing out all the major places which saved me a lot of time and made getting around a lot easier. They also helped me get an EZ-link card (allows you to get on public transport) and a Singaporean phone card which really helped.

On the second day I went on a tour of the city for exchange students which helped with getting to grips with the MRT (trains). There is an MRT station only 5 minutes’ walk away which has made exploring the city quick and easy. The tour started at 9am and finished at 5pm at the Marina bay so we were all pretty tired, but when we got to the bay they were setting up for a rehearsal of the Singapore Day Show so we stayed to see the jets, boat and fireworks which were all very impressive. On the next day, I went to Senatosa Beach which is at the end of the same MRT line that the university is on. The Beach was wonderful but slightly unnatural with lots of buildings and boats around.

The next few days were spent registering for the university, applying for my student pass (like a visa) and applying for modules. This was a bit of a long process for everyone involved but it was done all in one go so was relatively painless. The positive to this though is that your student card you get allows you free entry into all the gyms and sport facilities around campus, which is a welcome change.

One interesting place was Bukit Timah Nature Reserve where you can see the monkeys. Once you get of the city in Singapore there is lots of rich wildlife and rainforest. One of the more interesting sights was watching monkeys trying to get into someone’s house through a window!

20140805_142726
Monkeys climbing into a house

20140805_135924
A flying lemur!

 

Everyone here is very helpful and friendly and it seems such a safe city. An example of this is a bridge in Clarke Quay where people sit and chat to each other.

20140806_205301
Night time at Clarke Quay

There have been loads of other trips that I’ve done and am planning to do, but with lectures fast approaching it may be time to get my head down (whilst still having fun!).