Tag Archives: culture

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.

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The Science of Exchange

When we visited the NUS’ science buildings today we had a chance to meet and hang out with students who were studying similar subjects. They were all very interested in what classes and opportunities are presented through the nanotechnology course like being able to operate in a clean room out of the MCN as well the prospect of having access to a synchrotron. This struck a chord with me, I knew that our course in Australia was unique and that the opportunity to use the Australian synchrotron by undergraduates was a rare privilege but NUS has a synchrotron in the middle of their campus and yet it’s almost unheard of for undergrads to be granted access.

 

Over lunch we got to have a good talk with the students from NUS and found that many of them had traveled to many places in Asia, which isn’t overly surprising when you consider the size of Singapore and the fact that the Singapore airport could be considered a hub for more of south-east Asia. With this ease of travel to other countries it is of little surprise that over half the students go on short term study abroad programs with 30 % of them staying for at least one semester. By sending their students out to other countries they gain a greater understanding of other cultures not to mention the advertising it does for the Uni itself, which draws in exchange students to them in turn. I’ve talked about how Singapore has very little to offer in terms of physical raw resources previously and that is why a lot of money is focused into ensuring that they have the brightest minds around so that they may stay one step ahead.

Politics, economics and lab visits

Day two of the study tour started nice and early with everyone meeting at 8 am. The high commission was the first official business that we attended at the study tour. The two host at the high commission educated us about both the political and economic ties between Singapore and Australia. They also talked about the history and the political climate of Singapore. This was well received and after the question and answer session it quickly dissolved into AFL talk with one of the hosts. Paul then gathered us up again and then after getting dressed into more comfortable clothes, we next went to IMRE. IMRE was very interesting as it gave us a tour of labs which were particularly interesting as it showed the possible career paths that could be taken. We viewed many different instruments that were fundamental in the research that was being done at IMRE. This then was topped off with an interesting chat with a PhD student who was working on more effective batteries for cars. He was hoping that he could make a battery with the perfect amount of capacity vs stability. Overall this was an educational day and it proved to be really interesting.

I was wrong.

I was wrong. I do not say it often, however given my initial opinions of Singapore it is fairly obvious that I was completely off in my assumptions. Singapore while being extremely urbanised has a much larger amount of vegetation than any Australian city that I have visited. It does have a large amount of multi-level buildings and it does have vast motorways but in every possible space they can there are trees, grass and bushes. It truly is an inspiration to see how the city planners have managed to incorporate the vegetation into the landscape.
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I visited the Funan shop today and in my travels most of the things I saw were either expected or understandable. I was walking around the town and there were small things that are different to home but they were small and could have occurred in northern Australia. Some small changes were the heat/humidity which could have been experienced in northern Australia, the amount of small shops could be found in china town, and the large amount of buildings again could have been experienced in the city. The small things that really made me stop and realize is was in a completely different culture were the things that you don’t expect, the things that don’t even register when you search Singapore on sites, or when you talk to friends, those things were the clothes that were on poles hung out the windows on the 20th story, the 10cm black butterfly, the different colour taxis. These small things that are mostly overlooked are the things that surprised me the most. The big things about the culture, food and country you can read about however nothing can prepare you for every little detail that actually being in the country provides. It is amazing being in a  different country and words and pictures alone cannot convey the sheer experience of another nation.