University of Wisconsin–Madison

Singapore Nostalgia

With less than two weeks left in Singapore (and only two finals to go!) I’m beginning to feel prematurely nostalgic about my time here. I have begun to reflect on my time instead of looking forward to the experiences to come. Of course, I am excited to return to the land of cheeseburgers, dairy (it’s not really a thing in Asia), good friends, and family, but I am also quite certain of many things I will miss.

I will miss living on the other side of the world and the feeling of continuously experiencing new and exciting things. I will miss the weather: feeling surrounded by a blanket of heat and being awed by powerful thunderstorms and rain. Humidity isn’t everyone’s friend, but when you’re on a tropical-island-turned-city, it’s natural, which is wonderful because it prevents chapped lips (this, I will definitely miss).

I will miss traveling in Asia and will never forget my awe upon truly seeing Singapore for the first time, as well as other Asian countries. I will miss the trees, the monkeys and other animals, the continuous greenery, and many of the tropical fruits and homemade juices, including mangosteens, and anything involving mangos or avocado.

I will miss the food and am doing everything I can to eat as much chicken rice, Indian food, curry puffs, and prata as possible before leaving this magically delicious place.  I will miss the culture: the addicting atmosphere of little India, the vibrancy of Arab Street, the authenticity of Chinatown, and the frequency at which I hear languages other than English (and Spanish, French, German, etc. for that matter).

Most importantly, I will miss the people I have met, from my assigned student buddy who became a good friend, to my roommates, to the other friends and classmates I have met, both Singaporean and those also on exchange, in my time here.

I will miss things I cannot realize I will miss, at present, because they have become so comfortable and normal.

Imagine the fastest a period of time has ever passed in your life. Multiply that by four or five and that is how fast these four months passed. Of course there were highs and lows as with any experience: an ATM ate my debit card, mail is difficult to receive, courses here are not easy, and communication is only really possible when you have Wi-Fi. All of my positive experiences completely outweigh these minor issues, though.

I reflect upon my first trip on a long tail boat and the jaw-dropping beauty of Thailand, the beauty of the Singapore skyline from high up in the sky, the efficiency of the Singapore MRT and the ease with which one can see the island, having breakfast with orangutans, seeing temples and truly feeling Hinduism and Buddhism for the first time, experiencing Rang de Holi and having green hair for weeks, spending countless evenings on the Clarke Quay bridge – meeting dozens of foreigners and Singaporeans, all eager to learn something new about an unfamiliar person, and discovering new passions and interests through travel and life on the other side of the world. I now have a mental image of the “east” we so often talk about in the “west” and I am so thankful for this.

I hope to appropriately balance studying and living abroad these last two weeks. I hope to leave Singapore without regrets involving what I wished I would have done and could have seen. I remind myself that I will certainly return to Asia, as there are many places I’ve yet to see, and that Singapore, my Asian home at this point, could be an easy and necessary stop in my travels. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy all Singapore has to offer as I look forward to a bittersweet return home.