I am still processing that I’ve been in Singapore for little over a week now! I remember quite clearly when I stepped out of Changi Airport, the humidity hitting me face with a force. I thought to myself, this heat is no joke. On the ride to NUS( National University of Singapore) I rolled the down the window and absorbed all the scenery! Green. Everywhere was so tropical green! I guess it helped that the taxi driver was also blasting hits from 2009! It was beginning to feel like home away from home.
When I arrived, I was able to connect with other exchangers from UW-Madison. Little did I know that the business school had also sent students, so there is a good number of UW Madison representing in Singapore! The number of exchanger students here really surprised me. During the orientation, the hall was crowded with exchange students filling every inch of the room. I was able to meet students from UK, Canada, Sweden, Hong Kong, and other students from the states. There were a few from LA. I was super excited to meet and get to know them. The university held a series of welcome events for exchange students. I was able to participate in the Buddy program, in which groups of exchange students were led by local students to explore Singapore. My group decided to visit Chinatown. I was so taken aback by how big it was. So many shops and cheap food vendors. In the midst of walking my group lost our local student leader, so we went on exploring by ourselves! We tried some local food. I tried red bean ice cream. It was mixture of vanilla ice cream, red bean, shaved ice, honey, local jelly. Now I know what you are thinking. At first glance, it’s not the most appetizing combo, but it was quite delicious! By far one of my favorite dishes I had thus far.After exploring Chinatown, we decided to visit Gardens by the Bay. It’s a huge botanic garden that’s quite famous in Singapore. It was quite beautiful at night. Adjacent to the gardens was an enormous mall, filled with every designer brand you can think of. There was even a mini lake route, in which you can take a boat throughout the mall. Coming from LA, I’ve seen my share of big malls but nothing to this magnitude. I was quite shook walking through the mall. Outside of the mall, they host an hourly water show called Spectra. The water show told a story through music while propelling water high in the sky.
That day is probably one of my most memorable days since I’ve been here. It was first time actually getting to know other exchangers, traveling throughout the city by train, and trying new dishes. I guess you can say that it was a day full of first!
Later in the week I was able to finally meet my roommates and finalized my classes. The process to apply to classes were quite extensive. There was a one day period to add modules( classes). You can only select to add classes one time. Then you have to wait for specific departments to approve your added module. The only class I wanted to add was Chinese. As the week progressed, the class was still pending and I was getting worried that I would not be able to take it. So I made the decision to actually go directly to department to see if the class was still available. To my luck, I was able to secure a spot! I’m taking a total of three classes this semester, Southeast Asian Politics, Global Issues, and Fourth Semester Chinese. I’m satisfied with my selection and looking forward to see what these classes have in store. I did not meet my 5 other roommates until Saturday. They are all locals and super sweet. One of my roommates Jen, showed me around the residents and introduced me to other students living on our floor. They were all extremely welcoming and made sure I feel right at home. I can sum up my first week in Singapore in two words: Adventurous and insightful. Every day I find myself learning something new , whether it’s finding my way around campus, or learning about subtle cultural things such as placing tissue on a table means that table is occupied. I know I have a lot to learn, so I’m just taking my journey in strides and excited to see what else is in store as I settle in Singapore.