Singapore Culture: Transitioning into Life Abroad
Shortly after finishing my final exams for the fall semester, I was quickly thrown into a few days at home where I was packing, planning, and buying last-minute necessities for my trip to Singapore. It felt strange leaving for study abroad before New Year’s Eve when most of my friends were not leaving until the end of January, let alone mid-February.
Nonetheless, I packed my bags and spent my first day in Singapore on December 31st: New Year’s Eve. Prior to my arrival, I had already talked with several exchange students through the Facebook group organized by my host university. Before heading out to the Marina Bay to watch the fireworks, I decided to meet up with an exchange student from the Netherlands who also happened to arrive earlier that day. Singapore was beautiful, clean, and I spent my evening sampling delicious hawker foods such as baozi buns and chicken satay sticks. Soon after, the fireworks began and to our surprise, lasted for almost an hour! We were certainly caught off guard when the fireworks started at 11:00 p.m. rather than midnight, but the view we had as the fireworks shimmered across the sky over the Marina Bay Sands hotel was unforgettable.
Two months later, I am spending most of my time and weekend travels with my roommates, who are from Germany, Belgium, France, Morocco, Myanmar, and Australia. During our spare time, we have discovered parts of Singapore like Little India, Little Myanmar, Arab Street, Chinatown, and the Financial District. Despite English being the official spoken language in Singapore, I frequently hear Mandarin, Malay, Hindi, and of course, Singlish! Sometimes when I venture into more local restaurants, I find many menus to be in foreign languages and lacking of English descriptions. Although difficult at first, I have learned that locals are willing to help and I have tried my best to learn common Singlish phrases, as well as do research beforehand so that I can understand what vendors are selling. Nonetheless; the food in Singapore is delicious and much different than any of the Asian cuisine dishes I have had back at home. Singapore is humid, but I enjoy feeling the warmth of the sun as I walk around the city after classes and meet up with my group members from class.