Fusionopolis and the Zoo

Today we enjoyed the wonderful facilities at Fusionopolis which housed some of the cutting edge technology that the A-STAR institutes had created. This covered a wide variety of applications from using a laser to control a computer to hospital beds that can read vital signs. This was really interesting as most of the study tour so far had been about the research that creates the materials it was pleasant to be able to see the final product and the applications that they have. The next part of the day involved meeting up with the biodiversity group again to visit the zoo. This was a nice change in pace as it allowed some people to expand their horizons and meet new people from a different culture. The zoo was nice however the enclosures seemed a little too small and it looked like some animals were a little stressed about the heat.

Today was extremely enjoyable as it was a step down in pace and we had a day to enjoy the inventions that had come from ASTAR research. It was also exciting to go to the zoo and see some animals that we had not seen before. We also got a behind the scenes tour of the zoo which involved us making food for the animals, seeing how the animals where treated when ill and also seeing the food the lions and tiger enjoy. This was an experience that I had never had and I would certainly recommend this to anyone. The future applications of the learning that I did today could directly influence the pathway that I decide to follow in my education. I have started to see that some of the research that we have seen is not what I would like to do in the future and some research that is really interesting and I would love to participate in. One example is the bio mimicry study that we learnt about the other day and using nature to help design and research new things. It seems that through evolution there are some wonderful features that animals have that are many times better than the current technology.

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Reflective journal

The 2014 Singapore study tour has been an extremely valuable experience for me. I learnt various things related to nanotechnology while being given the opportunity to learn about a different culture. Since completing this study tour I have an altered perspective of how different countries can be from one another and the learning opportunities that they present. This tour has highlighted how different countries can be from one another that simply reading about a country cannot provide, even if they have a similar history such as being a former British colony. Through the tours of the science labs in Singapore I have gained a large amount of knowledge about possible projects that I would be interested in completing at some point in my future. I have learnt a great deal about the fields of research that are currently being undertaken which has given me an opportunity to discover where my personal interest lies.
Singapore has some things that any country should aim to integrate into their own community, such as scientific funding, growth of the society in a variety of ways (GDP, population and Infrastructure), and immigration.
There are also things that Singapore does that Australia cannot achieve; Australia is unable to create a public transport system to match Singapore’s as the land mass is far too expansive and Australia does not have the car owning tax to reduce the number of people able to purchase cars.
Opposing, there are many things that Australia does to a higher standard than Singapore. These include The incorporation of extensive welfare payments, the Australian working conditions are some of the best in the world and the minimum wage is also one of the best in the world.

Shiouk!!!

Singapore, the wealthy, southeast Asian, cultural amalgam has concurrently undermined and buttressed my pre-tour conceptions of the tropical, economically prosperous nation.

To view the country pessimistically would be to dissect its almost totalitarian governmental state and scrutinise its judicial system that often confronts and contrasts typically western ideas. Disturbingly evident across the city-state, Singapore’s social underclass yields an alien politeness that commonly approaches boundaries of submissiveness and permeates the nation’s developed business culture. A consequence of the city’s cesspool of private wealth, Singapore harbours underprivileged, financially malnourished and evidently ignored cultural hotspots that seem anachronistic to the PAP’s Singapore. The industrially deprived regions are at capacity and survive day-to-day under a labour based economy that is juxtaposed the current economic prosperity of the greater population. Consequently, they fulfil the social archetypes that propagated the racial animosity that is a lone stain on the country’s short history. Perhaps these are ramifications of the nation’s exponential growth since it’s federation and an acceptable social collateral. Regardless, it is antagonisingly obvious that the PAP has little interest in levelling the socio-economic playing field for the areas that are primarily supported by the work of foreign nationals.

Governmental personality has confirmed my initial perceptions o the island state, albeit shallow and unsubstantiated. Culturally, this has extended to the greater public, which although infinitely polite, are reserved and private. In comparison to the accepted Australian identity, conclusions can be drawn between governmental activity and the persona and behavioural tendencies of its people. In any case, the borderline social and cultural oppression of the Singaporean government resulted in the privacy and shyness of its populace.

However, to view the nation pessimistically would be to deny the beauty of its landscape and political aspirations. Primitively, Singapore’s history is the proverbial rags-to-riches narrative – from humble beginnings as a farming nation with little renewable resources, Singapore has blossomed, with rapidity, into a global financial superpower. Singapore’s incredibly ethical culture and attention to detail aside, the long jeopardy and success of the PAP has fostered an inherent trust and belief in the state’s future that cannot be rivalled universally. Subsequently, this has allowed governmental agencies to confidently plan and execute advancements in infrastructure, finance, as well as science and its technologies. With no significant opposition, Singapore evidently has a functioning government with no apparent requirement for an alternative. This, in comparison with the composition of governments globally, can be accredited to the ever-presence of science in Singapore’s parliamentary cabinet.

Undeniably, this has resulted in an apparent saturation of research, design and development opportunities and investments in technological advancements across the nation. The R&D landscape in its entirety is exclusively prosperous and offers a practically infinite financial well. Subsequently, Singapore is the most appropriate and supportive environment to pursue academic success.

Participation in the New Colombo plan and its collaborative efforts with La Trobe University’s has exacerbated the potential of Nano-based industries. Initially sceptical about the future of nanotechnology, its ethical direction and the dedication of its alumni, I have been forever ensured that the industry is inherently stable and expanding exponentially. Visits to A-Star institutes and insight into their operations and motivations have propelled me to pursue in a future in nanotechnology.

Ps.

Politics aside, Singapore in a nutshell: good food, transport and a bright future. Alcohol is too expensive and the humidity is at times unbearable! Shiouk! 

The Final day

The last day was filled with lab visits, demonstrations and presentations. The morning consisted of the tour group visiting the last ASTAR institution on our schedule, Institute of Molecular Biology. This was immediately interesting as it started with a presentation from an Australian born scientist Victor Nurcombe. He first detailed the history of Singapore followed by his own history and then moved us onto what he was currently working on and why there was a need for it. He explained his project that is currently approaching his first human trials and it really sounded like a great product, Norton almost had his check book out to invest. 

After this we were shown to the lab that contains the microscopes. It was really intriguing to be able to see the awesome equipment that could be used in the future. It was awesome to see a super resolution microscope which we had learnt about in a previous nanotech course. 

We then went to NUS and had a look at the synchrotron that only occupied a single room. This is an incredibly small example but it still can be used in a variety of experiment up to x-rays. This is very helpful for a large amount of experiments that are currently being performed. 

The tour ended with an informal chat back at IMRE. This was a really good way to wind down as we could discuss the changes in our ideas, opinions and aims that had happened in Singapore. This was a nice afternoon to relax and reminisce on an excellent time in Singapore and a educational tour.

Reflections on the trip

After the study tour finished on the Wednesday, some of us decided to stay together at a backpackers in Little India before going home. It was a good time to relax, and get to know each other a bit better, after being busy looking at all the research facilities. While there we went out and explored some areas of Singapore that I hadn’t been to before.

Going to Singapore was a great experience. Although already been there before, I wasn’t able to look around and explore and learn about it like I did this time. I learnt more about the future applications of the material I am currently learning through the Nanotechnology course. It wasn’t just centred around one area either; we got to see a range of different areas. Singapore’s culture was interesting to learn. The food over there is a big part of their culture. It shows with how nice, and cheap it was. Everywhere we went to eat had chopsticks to use if we wanted so I’ve basically become an expert at using them now.

All good things must come to an end

So now that the trip is done I get a chance to look back over it all. It was a great first adventure overseas I’ve decided because due to it being a Uni event we were forced to interact with many different facets of the countries life. We had a chance that you generally wouldn’t have traveling to engage with academics from many different fields as well as still explore the cultural aspects of Singapore. By staying on college at NUS we made friends with several students and added them to social networks so that if we ever go there again or them here we will have a contact that can steer us in the right direction.

 

After leaving the college several of the other students and myself stayed at a place called the Prince of Wales in Little India while we explored and waited out the time until it was time to go home. It was a great place as public transport was very close as well as lots of shopping for cheap electronics and clothes. As well as some of the friendliest and most helpful bartenders I’ve ever seen, if you’re ever in Singapore i highly recommend it.

 

The one thing I think I’m going to miss most about Singapore is the cheap amazing food. I literally don’t know how I’m going to be bothered to pay anything over $4 for delicious and healthy takeaway ever again.

The last day of the study tour

Today was our last day of the study tour. The first visit of the day was to the Institute of Medical Biology. We got a tour of some of their labs, where we were shown some super resolution microscopes they use. They had picture comparisons of rat kidneys, and other things, to show us how much better the resolution is on the new microscopes. Next, one of the people working there, who is Australian, talked about his research. He was working on the regeneration of bone using certain sugars, instead of using bone growth factor. Which was fairly Interesting

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Next we went and had some lunch back at NUS, before heading over to the NUS surface science labs. While at the labs, Paul was helpful in explain to us some of the machines they had there, while the other researchers also talked about what they were working on.

After that  we had a quick look at the synchrotron, as we were running out of time to get to IMRE, and talked to people who were doing there research there. I find it amazing how small the synchrotron is, compared to the one in Melbourne.

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Lastly, to end the trip we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk about the places we had visited and reflected on the experiences a little bit. One of the guys we talked to also told us about some of the research they had done there.

Final days exploring Singapore

After the study tour ended, me and a few of the others guys went and stayed at the backpackers that Trey and I stayed at before the trip for three days. We had a really good time, we did a lot of walking around the city and walking around shopping centers and markets. We also did have a fair few late nights at the bar which was downstairs at our accommodation and we all got to know each other pretty well. I am really glad that we all spent those few days together, I had a lot of fun, and I wish that I had got to know the guys earlier.

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On Sunday, everyone was leaving to return home, except for Trey and I, I booked a hotel the night before to stay in Singapore for my last two nights, and Trey’s flight is leaving from Penang. So on Sunday I went to book into my hotel, but check-in didn’t open until 3pm and I gto there about 1pm so I just left my luggage there, then I went to Johor Baru in Malaysia with Trey as he was staying there for one night before heading off to Penang. Sunday turned out to be quiet an adventure for me; Trey and I got the bus to JB, which took around 40 minutes to get to the city, once we arrived, we got a cab to Trey’s accommodation, which was homestay accommodation and let me put it this way, I was glad I was staying at a hotel in Singapore. We then went to find some lunch and walked around for a little while, I didn’t want to hang around JB for too long as I still needed to check-in to my hotel.

Trey in Johor BaruLast day in Little India

I ended up leaving Trey’s accommodation around 5.30pm, and the owner of the house gave me some shady directions to get to the bus terminal to get back to Singapore, he said it was about a 10 minute walk so I was fine with that. So I went off on my way following his directions, which I couldn’t confirm as I couldn’t use my phone, I ended up getting lost in JB for around an hour, walking around in a deserted area that was over-run with jungle, it felt like I was in a post apocalyptic area, it was a rather unenjoyable experience and I regretted not getting a taxi, thankfully I ended up finding the bus terminal. It then took me around four hours to get back to Singapore and luckily the check-in closes late at my accommodation so I could still check-in.I was planning on going to sleep when I got to my room, but then these two girls I met earlier on my trip – Janice and Feii, wanted me to go to Clarke Quay and watch the soccer world cup final with them, I had a really good time with them. I ended up spending the next two days with them, it was pretty cool getting showed around the city with some locals, and I even had an unofficial tour of Singapore Polytechnic as the girls are studying cosmetic science there.

My flight was booked to leave on Tuesday night, which was my birthday, Janice and Feii came to the airport with me as they didn’t want me to spend my birthday alone, we went and had sushi for dinner. I was skeptical about having sushi, because I have never had it before, and I also have never really had sea food, let alone raw fish, I tried a lot of sushi, and to my surprise I actually enjoyed the food. I then boarded my flight and arrived home at around 6am.

Feii and Janice

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the Singapore trip and I would love to go there on exchange and possibly even work there one day, they have a really strong emphasis on science which I really like and I also really like the culture of Singapore.

Final entry on Singapore

Today i return home from a study tour in Singapore. I originally arrived in Singapore on the 20th of June to spend some time with my girlfriend and get used to the new place. Singapore has surprised me in many ways, from its multiculturalism to its education system. One thing that engaged me the most was finding out how much the government cares about science and being able to see its relevance not only for the country, but for the global community.

I learned so much on the study tour not only in my field of nanotechnology, but also in business and education. It seems to me that if you want a quality research program then go to Singapore where the government is eager to help. I would like to come back to Singapore some day, not just for the food, oh now there was some amazing food there. I could get lost in my thoughts just relishing in the never ending gastronomical possibilities that exist in Singapore.

Upon returning to Australia it just hit me how different the two countries are. Just turning on the news and listening a bit, i see how different our attitudes are to those in parliament. While in Singapore the government is treated with reverence, here back home we treat them harshly, questioning their every move. The little things also remind me im back home, such as how expensive it is to eat lunch in Australia. In Singapore you can get a filling meal with your pocket change, not so easily in Australia. But the land don under has one thing the Singaporeans don’t have, good fresh coffee. Oh how i missed my cappuccinos and espressos, where ever you go in Melbourne, you can be sure to find good coffee.

I guess that’s all i ask for Singapore in the future, don’t change one bit but import some real cafes.

Post-tour adventures. Reflections upon return to Australia

I spent a few nights in little India, in the backpackers hostel The prince of Whales. It was nice to relax after such a busy two weeks. A few of us who stayed there went shopping some more at Bugis, Mustafa, and Funan. I got the chance to go to the night safari at the zoo with two Danish backpackers, which was a really nice time. The atmosphere was very nice at the backpackers but I felt that it was time to return home.
The last day: Sunday started way too early from the sleep I’ve had, but the weather here makes it possible. It is pretty annoying that as soon as I’m completely acclimatized to living here, food, heat, ect, I must return home. I am going to miss Singapore and the people I have meet on this trip.
The day was spent at the airport, with its whole Koi ponds, butterfly gardens, free movie cinemas. Singapore airport is an amazing place.
I had a nice stopover in Kuala Lumpur, which was enough time off the plane for me to get some food and have a shower before getting onto the final flight to take me home to Melbourne.
Melbourne was much colder than I expected when I got back, shorts and a T-shirt weren’t the best idea to land with. Regardless it was nice to be back home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the study tour, I feel that I have learnt a lot about Singapore, it’s science, and the fact that their is so much to be gained from international relationships and looking past our own boundaries to other lands which have so much to offer. We now live in an age of an international community; we should use it to its full advantage.
I am very glad I have  made these blog posts, I will be able to look back onto this in a few years and remember the experiences I have had in Singapore.

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Pretty buildings

Now I am back in Australia I feel as that nothing had changed here but that I have matured as a person, I must be more confident with myself, and i should work harder for the things I really want. Also better organisation wouldn’t hurt.
Keeping a journal will help me remember what has happened, while also allowing me to attempt to improve my writing. I am planning to continue blogging my other adventures on my own blog.

Cheers for following this blog, i hope you have enjoyed it.

Fun at backpackers
Fun at backpackers

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Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure
Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure

 

Singapore airport is amazing
Singapore airport is amazing

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Sun over the clouds, almost home.
Sun over the clouds, almost home.
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