End of one adventure

When I began this adventure in January, this was not at all how I envisioned it ending. Coronavirus and government recall meant that I had to leave sunny Singapore very quickly. Whilst the government recall, the pain of getting a new plane ticket and, leaving all my new friends behind was not how I envisioned it ending, I can’t say it hasn’t been memorable.

My time abroad has not only allowed me the opportunity to travel and have amazing new adventures, but stretch and challenge myself. I will never forget the amazing views of sunrises in Surabaya, rainforests in Laos, and lanterns in Taiwan. However, for me it was the people who made my experience so amazing. I never thought I would make such important friendships so quickly, and yet we’ve already planned our New Years celebration together! People often joke that you “find yourself in Southeast Asia”, and I definitely found the best group of friends. People who I would quite literally jump off a cliff after, and people who immediately agreed to finish my checklist with me on my very sudden last days in Singapore. I feel extremely lucky to have shared amazing memories with these people, and I know this is the first of many adventures for us!

I also feel that Singapore has made a lasting impact on me. I am more spontaneous and willing to take risks, to plan a trip on Thursday night and leave Friday morning. It has broadened my horizons by allowing me to take risks and grow. I know I can travel alone and live on the other side of the world and it not end in mass disaster. Living abroad has made me more independent and self-sufficient. From organising my own VISA, to navigating boarder crossings at night, it’s safe to say that I definitely learnt a variety of life skills!

Whilst my time in Southeast Asia was cut short, I wouldn’t trade my experience, or the friendships I made! (And don’t worry I’ll be back there next summer for a new adventure!)

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!

Your stereotypical “My year aboard was the best experience of my life” speech from your returning friends

By Chloe Coradetti, Mechanical Engineering, The National University of Singapore, Singapore.

Hellooo Manchester, I’m back!

I’ve settled back to my Mancunian way of life since mid-September.
It all happened so quickly: moving out, grieving the Asian food, the beginning and the end of the blissful holidays with friends and family, packing and moving to my flat with my two lovely British roommates, starting Uni, seeing everyone you haven’t seen in a year like nothing changed, intense masters’ lectures, first coursework, graduate applications etc…

-Catching a Breath-

My usual Manchester way of life just smashed me right back in the face so hard and so fast that I ended up bamboozled lying on my bed looking at this elephant decoration I’ve brought back from Singapore thinking:
“Did this year abroad actually happened or did my brain tricked me to think so as a coping mechanism for the cold I’m experiencing right now?”– I pulled the blanket up, closed my eyes and softly went down the spiral of near-unbelievable memories of my past year, still doubting myself about the reality of it all, when my phone rings…

 

tales-of-burma
Tales of Burma – Photo Credit to Hannah Pezzack

 

Continue reading “Your stereotypical “My year aboard was the best experience of my life” speech from your returning friends”

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”

Exams and Goodbyes

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

Pic Nic
End of Semester/GoodBye Pic Nic outside Vivo City, one of the humongous mall of Singapore. Enjoying the sea view… and the company 🙂

Hellooo Manchester,

First, a little retrospective on my adventure so far which I wrote on my Facebook wall in December 2015:

The first semester is coming to an end,
I’ve been through a great range of difference experiences, beginning by meeting awesome, intellectual, hilarious, enriching people which I went on some adventures with, at boxing classes, skateboarding, partying, laughing, dragon boating, chatting philosophically or politically until 3AM…
Continue reading “Exams and Goodbyes”

The Exchanger life: midterms, recess week, panic and Fun!

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

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Marina Bay Sand (MBS) The most famous hotel in Singapore due to its architectural prowess.

Hellooo Manchester,

In this post I’m going to talk about the mid terms examination, my recess week holiday and life on campus in general.

Midterms – Mid September

Where to begin…
Stressful for sure, especially that we do not have them in Manchester and therefore I didn’t know what to expect.
Challenging, because as they count for only 10% to 20% of our final grade, the teachers take them as an opportunity to really test our problem solving skills by giving us impossible exercises… literally.

Continue reading “The Exchanger life: midterms, recess week, panic and Fun!”

Year Abroad: 25% browsed – Half semester 1 update

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

After a calm week of adaptation to my new environment in a pretty much empty campus, orientation week finally starts!

Dragonboating
Splashing is as important as rowing in Dragon Boating! So much fun 😀 Pink Team (aka my team) won the race!! (photo credit: NUS Peer Advising)

Continue reading “Year Abroad: 25% browsed – Half semester 1 update”

Back to reality and off to Singapore!

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

Here I am, realizing that it is real, it is happening… I am going to study abroad for an entire year at the National University of Singapore!!  YEEEEESSS!
My excitement is hardly containable, I keep telling everyone, with a big smile on my face “I’m going on an adventuuuuuure!”

Continue reading “Back to reality and off to Singapore!”

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?

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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.