Tag Archives: Singapore

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! 

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.

So long, Singapore… for now!

This study tour has been a life changing experience. Not only have I gained an inestimable amount of knowledge on Singapore, but I have also had my first exposure to overseas travel. I feel that this experience has given me a much deeper insight into foreign culture than I could have ever gained in Australia.

Looking back on the last two weeks, it seems like it was all just a blur. I have experienced so much in such a little amount of time; everything from lab tours to presentations, from the Singapore food culture to Singaporean governmental politics. Looking back, I think it is safe to say that my expectations prior to coming to Singapore were not entirely accurate. Indeed, I could never have predicted exactly how it would feel to experience a foreign country, especially one as unique as Singapore.

But despite everything, I am still very glad to be home. As much as I have enjoyed both the social and educational aspects of this study tour, by the end I was beginning to miss the comforts of being at home. But with that being said, I am almost certain that I will return to Singapore at some point in my life, perhaps even for a semester exchange program.

So with that I bid you farewell, Singapore, until we meet again!

The Study Tour Final Day

On Wednesday the 9th of July we had our final day of the La Trobe Nanotechnology Study Tour in Singapore. It was a really great day to end the tour on. First we started our morning by going to Biopolis, where we visited the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) where we got to see some of their laboratories and then have an extremely intriguing presentation by Victor Nurcombe. Victor researched into stem cells, heparin glycosaminoglycan, and natural sugars. They were able to grow bones back using just the sugars in pigs, fish, rabbits, rats, and soon will have a human trial to see if it works in humans. 

After visiting IMB, we went to NUS’s surface science laboratories and the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) located in NUS. The SSLS was very interesting as it was such a small synchrotron, yet it was able to help so many different research machines that they had there. 

Our last stop for the study tour was IMRE where we started our study tour. It was good to meet Sean again and to discuss our thoughts about Singapore then compared to when we first arrived. After some tea, coffee and hot milo, a good discussion and a goodbye, we signed off the study tour and said goodbye to Paul and Dongchen. 

Since the study tour finished I have travelled to Jakarta, and am now currently in Bali relaxing by the pool. I definitely needed this little holiday to relax after the two weeks of hard, but enjoyable work.

 

Final Day

Today marks the last day of the Nanotechnology Singapore study tour. Our first stop was to visit the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) and receive a presentation from a fellow aussie Victor Nurcombe. His current research was into natural sugars and their ability to regrow bones, which was evident in rabbits, fish, pigs and mice. Their next step is in a human trial.

After our visit to IMB, we headed back to NUS to visit the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS). This place was intriguing since it had 1 working synchrotron and 1 on standby in case the first fails.

After the visit to the SSLS we made our way to our last visit back at IMRE. This was a nice way to end the trip by going back to the first institute that we had visited. At IMRE we had some coffee and tea and relaxed and talked to various people, including some professors. After this little sit down, we headed off outside and said our farewells to Paul and Dongchen.

After the study tour, i had almost an extra week in Singapore. I used this time to do some activities that i didn’t have the chance to do during the study tour.

Biopolis and the final day.

After an early night, I woke up at 4:00am to watch the Brazil & Germany World Cup match. Just after the 7:1 German victory, the sky’s above Singapore opened up to a torrential downpour with lighting cracking all around us. It was truly an intense experience to have purple lighting so close to us. By our meeting time of 8:20am it had slowed down to a drizzle. We took the shuttle bus to Kent ridge then the train to Bona vista, where we then walked for a few minutes to Immunos at Biopolis. Biopolis is an international research and development centre for biomedical sciences. Immunos is one of the buildings in the Biopolis complex which houses The Institute of Medical Biology (IMB). We were greeted and given a tour of their laboratories. Then we were given a presentation by an Australian Professor, Victor Nucombe who works at IMB.

The presentation was about himself, history about Singapore, and the story of the company he is in/ how he got there.It was very interesting to know how Victor Nucombe got to where he currently is and the journey he has taken to get there.
We were then taken down to the basement where they showed us their super-resolution fluoresce microscopes. Apart from being very beautiful, the images they take there are also useful scientifically.

We then travelled back to NUS, to their surface science laboratory where we were shown their equipment and the Singapore synchrotron light source (SSLS). The SSLS is very small compared to the one we have at Monash, but it is still able to produce what is needed for experiments.

After that visit we returned to IMRE where we once again had a sit down and chatted with some of the people there. From which we were then dismissed from the tour.
I then continued my own adventures.

Final Day

Wednesday, the last day of the tour. This morning we went to IMB- the institute for molecular biology at Biopolis, we were given a tour of their laboratories, which as every place we have been, were very good. We then had a look at their microscopy unit, where they had a few confocal microscopes, a super resolution microscope, which provides a way to overcome the diffraction limit of light microscopes, and then some microscopes for live tissue cells, which were contained in a Perspex box which could have all ambient conditions controlled to keep the cell alive.

Professor Victor Nurcombe then talked to us about Singapore’s opportunities and how money is no object for research and Singapore is also home to most millionaire households per capita. He then went on to talk about some of his research, which was pretty amazing, basically he worked out that the sugars that activate stem cells can be used to re grow bones, capillaries and many other hard to repair cells.

We then had lunch, and went to NUS. We went to the surface science department, and had a tour of their laboratories, which had mass spectrometers and scanning tunnelling microscopes. I found the tour pretty interesting as I have just learnt how these microscopes work so it was good to see them in real life and talk to people that use them. We then had a quick tour of the NUS synchrotron as we were running a bit behind schedule, I also found this interesting as it was my first time visiting a synchrotron.

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To finish off the tour, we went back to IMRE, where we had a talk with Shaun and Nicolai and had some coffee and biscuits for about an hour. Nicolai was very interesting to talk to, he told us about alternate light sources, which are made from gallium nitride and have a life span of 50 years if they are used for 6 hours a day, and they are 3 times more energy efficient than current power saving light globes. After the coffee break, we had completed the study tour, a few of the guys and me had a couple of beers and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Chillin’ with Lemurs

The activities today were reasonably laid back and relaxed, as they were both specifically for tourists. In the morning, we visited Fusionworld, a subsidiary of A*Star that is designed to showcase some of the more ‘exciting’ recent scientific developments. We were shown various new technologies, including a computer game that is powered by brain wave activity and an interactive screen that is controlled using a laser pointer. I was particularly interested in the applications of these technologies. For example, the brain-wave game was designed specifically to improve the focus of children with ADHD, and there have been studies which have shown its effectiveness.

In the afternoon, we joined once again with international students in the Biodiversity Group, and together we visited Singapore Zoo. We were given a ‘behind-the-scenes’ pass, and we were educated on how the zoo functions in order to keep the animals happy and healthy, including feeding procedures, veterinary services and general zoo maintenance. In addition, we also had some time to walk freely around the zoo and visit all of the animals. As with the aquarium, I will let the photos describe this portion of the trip!