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Republic Polytechnic, Singapore’s scientific, technical alternative demonstrated the extent of the nation’s education system and its inherent flexibility. Undeniably, the institute spares no expenditures to provide a positive alternative to typical education. Tour guides and students were enthused to establish constructive relationships with the student and staff of La Trobe and assisted the overall characterisation of the establishment. Interestingly, contrary to the Victorian education system, Republic Polytechnic is exorbitantly funded and embraces unorthodox schooling environments. The community encourages a multitude of learning dispositions and is essentially a ‘limbo’ education between secondary and tertiary studies. Ideally, a similar implementation would influence Australian youth towards the sciences by promoting a practical work environment. The flexibility of Singapore’s evolving education system is a testament to the progressive, expanding economic and scientific landscape of the country.

Following the tour, a group excursion to Sentosa Island’s Aquarium with a NUS Biodiversity exchange students existed as a propagation of the country’s concerted tourism efforts. The second largest aquarium in the world was a aesthetic playground to build relations with foreign students – all of which shared the unified goal for the benefit of the scientific community. Tour guides in the aquarium were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and purveyed the engineering behind the function of the aquarium – the experience holistically broadened perspective applications of nanoscience and material functions. Communications with the biodiversity students reinforced the growing influence on my interactions with internationals and the concepts of globalism and the wider global community. Prospectively this strengthens my belief in the future of both industry, community and society and propels me to utilise possible advancements in materials science for the benefit of the community. 


– Trey Guest


Sore Feet and High Hopes

As a ramification of the tour’s intensity, as well as a hardened pair of shiny, new leather shoes, I was unable to join the collective in their visit to NUS and the science demo lab. Instead, I was committed to a day laden with study, reflection and a well-earned rest. Rather than burdening you with the negligible exploits of my day, I have instead decided to give a scant overview of my expectations for the remainder of the trip.

In the past week, my outlook on Singapore’s cultural and economic climate has rapidly shifted and I have been gifted with a greater sense of globalism. The countries financial and scientific exploits have allowed me insight into the future of nanotechnology and subsequently my occupational horizons. Ideally, the remainder of the trip will ignite a specific passion, goal or method of achieving what I want by offering a specific direction. Potentially, this could come in the form of a project, mentor or like-minded students with the same motives in the industry. Personally I would appreciate speaking to those within the industry with honest motives that regard the propagation of the science and the improvement of the human condition. Although these expectations are exorbitant I believe they are achievable, given the rapidity that my outlook on global communities has been altered.

– Trey Guest 

Political Caricatures and the High Commision

The formality of the venture to the Australian High Commission in Singapore confirmed a number of political archetypes and painted caricatures of the governmental personality of our global neighbours. The English embassy fronted two sharply dressed guards and a scarcely fenced greenery – comically mirroring the countries border leniency. Inversely, the engraved marble façade of the American consult was perched on a hill above the walkway, as if purposely built at an advantage to its neighbours. Appropriately, signs forbidding photography accompanied the gated, picketed boundaries – each of these ironically followed by an array of lifeless security cameras. Finally, the Australian High Commission and obviously the only I was allowed entry to gifted subtle reminders of home – a friendly smile, a stash of Tim-Tams and of course a fridge full of beer.

Predictably, the concept of national identity was frequented in the talks that followed; more surprisingly however, were the relayed anecdotes of Singapore’s governmental powers. Comparison was drawn between the countries’ democracy and their relative youth and most impressively the Colombo Plan, the predecessor to the very purpose of my travels, was outlined. The initial endeavour regarded education relationships between Singaporean students and Australian universities. Celebrated members of the community, parliament and the nation’s President were products of the scheme, giving credence to the current emphasis on the relationship of the governments and vindicating the significance of this opportunity for my future.

The visit to the Australian embassy clarified the significance of our relationship with Singapore and highlighted similarities that I would have other wised overlooked. Ultimately, it is apparent that our nations can find economic prosperity within collaboration and understanding between one another. Pre-existing intimacies between Lee Hsien Loong and Australia as a nation, alongside the New Colombo Plan are undoubtedly strong starting points for this endeavour. 

Singapore’s focus on research and development and their distribution of wealth to the sciences were elucidated in a visit to Institute for Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE). A brief presentation with Australian native Dr. Sean O’Shea highlighted the opportunities in research and development presented to both Singaporeans and international postgraduates – particularly in the study of materials at the nanoscale. A-Star, IMRE’s governing body, offers a multitude of scholarships and internship programs to elite students of the trade globally. The significance of this is prevalent in the avant-garde facilities and instrumentation that are supported by funding from the Singaporean government – instrumentation that may be otherwise unobtainable in Australia.  

A rushed tour of the institute denoted the scientific diversity and across IMRE and multi-disciplinary nature of their research. The opportunities offered at the clinic mirrored the core learning objectives of our own nanotechnology program and reinforced the relevance and potential academic prosperity that the opportunity holds. The attitude of the Singaporean government, as well as its commercial sectors towards nano-scaled sciences was refreshing and was a physical incarnate of the future of my peers, the industry and myself. The tour of IMRE and presentations regarding the promising future of A-Star and the institute reinforce my own concessions on the future of Nanotechnology whilst laying rest to industrial and occupational insecurities.

– Trey Guest

Worshipping Nature

The first official day of the tour involved us meeting at 10am. After we meet at Starbucks, we were assaulted by an equatorial thunderstorm. The severity and the speed of the thunderstorm surprised everyone except the local, Dong Chen. The first thing on the agenda was heading to marina bay sands and walking down by the riverfront. Lunch was had at the marina bay sands food court and after everyone was gathered we headed to the biospheres. The biospheres were split up into two sections; Flowering plants and the Cloud biosphere. The Flowering biosphere had an abundance of plants from around the world and featured Australia, South Africa, USA and South America.The cloud biospheres featured a central tower with a waterfall and several levels of observation.The main attraction was the plants that were attached onto the outside of the main tower which varied and beautiful, it was obvious a large amount of time had been spent arranging and collecting these plants.So far in this trip i have the impression that the culture of Singapore is to respect plants.

Singapore so far has given me and impression that they have valued having a large amount of plants incorporated in the city however the amount of time, money and effort that has been spent creating the sanctuary of plants that is the biospheres and surrounding areas reminds me more of a temple. Singapore in a way have created a temple that displays the sanctity and respect that they hold towards nature. The Cloud Biosphere in particular reminds me of the ancient legends of the hanging garden of Babylon and like the fabled garden there are many people who travel around the world and ensure they see this wondrous enclosure. This again can be compared to the main place of worship in a country ie. Mecca, Vatican City. The people of Singapore don’t only respect nature, they give me the impression that they worship it and their scared place is the biospheres. It was definitely worth going and grasping a better understanding of the culture.

Marina Bay and Singaporean Extravagence

Holistically, Marina Bay Sands and the greater Marina Bay area is a true manifestation of the ideals of Singaporean government. In its entirety, the area is a bold, excessive yet utterly spectacular concession of the countries growing prosperity and foreshadows the countries future. In stark contrast to Little India and the country’s more socioeconomically unstable territories Marina Bay is lavish and inherently affluent. Gardens by the Bay in Marina City Park are comprised of two extraordinary observatories, which in conjunction with the surrounding greeneries advertise the flora of global ecosystems. Other than the undeniable revenue created from tourism and the extravagance of the structures, no practical assumption can be made as to why the Singaporean government built the observatories other than “because they can”.


This underlines my view of the city as a whole, and is prevalent in the expenditures and architectural brilliance around each of the city’s corners – albeit these corners are separated by 5-lane, one-way roads. The state executes both public and private transport in style – an impeccably timed MRT system softens the impact of journeys in the seemingly perilous. Privately the consistency of wealth across the population is evident in the quality of their cars. Typically, it is not uncommon to see an array of Mercedes-Benz followed by an Aston Martin, Maserati, Lamborghini or Ferrari. This theme permeates the Marina Bay Sands shopping complex in which the brands of highest quality, and price for that matter, fill the center. 

As an observer, the profligacy of the city’s corporate and commercial architecture and the manner in which the general public approaches it is a testament to the financial status of the nation. It seems, despite the apparent and ubiquitous control and monitoring of the government on the community the nation exists in a state of ever-growing wealth –prompting the assumption that the current parliament are successful in their endeavours. 



– Trey Guest

Arrival and Revelations

Admittedly, landing in Singapore I was forced to concede all that I had previously thought of the country and all I anticipated for my travels. The seamlessness and friendliness as to which I was directed from customs to transport, and successively my hostel reinforced all that I had been told to expect. However the state posses a liveliness that I was unable to foresee. A brief drive through the city was analogous for the large-scale business culture that the country stands for, however I developed the greatest sense of the countries personalities in the parts of the city not widely broadcasted.

Residing in Little India, what seems to be a financially unstable climate, an underbelly to the country is evident and typically human endeavours seem find ways around the control of the state. Although government is focussed on the economic prospects of the state, it is evident that the locals are immersed in their day-to-day life. Surprisingly, the country is culturally diverse with strong Indian influences – particularly in my current place of residence. If I were not to venture from the area I am currently in, I could be easily convinced that I had not been in Singapore at all. Rather than cleanliness and structure, I have witnessed a chaotic yet ordered environment saturated with merchants and labourers. Despite the anachronism of the community to the greater Singaporean experience, Little India demonstrates the significance of the human experience in the city’s lifestyle.


The hostel that I am staying at has given me insight into the true sense of humanism in global communities. It is apparent that language and racial barriers are simply overcome by the conveyance of the message that we all wish for the same experience – to have fun and experience the greater communities of the world. Currently, I am excited as to what my experiences in the wealthier parts of the city will bring however I could ask nothing more of my time in Little India and the understanding it has given me on the ubiquity of the human spirit.


–  Trey Guest

The day before the flight

The day before the flight was a mad rush to get prepared. I had physics exam, today on the 24th and the flight was tomorrow at 9:45 am. This was leading to feelings of anticipation mixed with dread because study for physics had eaten up any time I had the previous week. I was therefore forced to postpone any Singapore preparation until the day before i left. However as i finally have packed all my clothes and take some time to sit and start looking forward and anticipating what i might encounter in Singapore, I am left feeling completely unprepared for the journey i am about to undertake. there are so many things that i do not know about; the cultural norms, the food, and the possible places to visit. I will hopefully use all tonight to search about the thing is expect to encounter.

I have however talked to a few people who have already visited Singapore. These people have told me that i should expect a clean urbanised country that has extremely cheap food. They have also told me that the the public transport is extremely efficient. Due to these initial opinions, i have a mental picture of a country that is not dissimilar to Melbourne central although I expect that Singapore will be much more spread and the island will be almost completely covered by tall buildings. I have started to form an idea what i believe singapore would be like, it will be interesting how this changes when i get there.