A Travellerspoint blog

July 2011

My First Day in Singapore

Who knew the first day could be so much fun


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From Monday morning at 8am to Wednesday Morning at about 2am I was traveling. It took 21 hours and 25 minutes of flight time just to arrive at my destination. And with my flights in both Chicago and Hong Kong delayed it took two days to finally make it here.

But after all the airplane food and sleeping leaning against the windows, I finally touched down in Singapore!

I am attending the National University of Singapore (NUS) in an exchange program that Clarkson University offers, and will be here until December. NUS set me up with a ‘buddy’ to meet me at the airport, help me find my dorm and get me checked in. Because my flights were delayed, my buddy had to come to Changi Airport in the middle of the night. His name is Tan Jing Da, but he goes by JD. By the time we drove through the city, arrived on campus and checked in, it was about 4am local time. I crashed immediately and slept through the night.

My first real morning in Singapore I awoke to an amazing thunderstorm. The humidity in this area is absurd, and the temperatures are almost unbearable. The thunder was the loudest I’ve ever heard, and sheets of rain poured down on my dorm. It only lasted about 20 minutes, and the rest of the day was hot and sunny!

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At international student registration, it took hours of lines to get through immigration matters because all international students have to apply for a Student Pass to stay in the country. This is where I met my first new friends. After standing in lines, and missing forms, and borrowing pens, and complaining about the heat, you get to know the people around you very quickly. I met several students from Canada, the UK and other European countries by the end of the 3 hours it took to finish.

My first night here, a group of about 20 international students went into the city for dinner and a night out. We went to Clementi Hawker Center for dinner, and sat around talking for hours just getting to know everyone and where they were from.

After dinner we took the MRT (Singapore Subway system, stands for Mass Rapid Transit) to Clarke Quay. Clarke Quay is a beautiful riverside located in Singapore, and is home to many restaurants and nightclubs. It is beautifully lit up at night, and offers an amazing range of places to hang out. My night ended back at NUS, and I was officially loving Singapore!

Posted by Cassi 19:46 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Eusoff Hall

Pictures of my dorm


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To give you all an idea of where I am staying, here are a few pictures of my dorm complex. It reminds me of a Florida resort with the trees and flowers. Also, there are no doors on any buildings or hallways, they are all open to the outside, which is nice because it lets a breeze inside the rooms.

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Posted by Cassi 08:45 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

The City of Singapore

A tour through Bugis and Marina Bay


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My second day in Singapore I toured the city with a group of fellow exchange students. We took the city bus to the MRT all the way into Downtown Singapore. We started in Bugis Junction, an area with lots of shopping, temples, and a pedestrian street with little carts set up all over it selling flowers. We visited a Chinese Temple, a Buddhist Temple, and many small churches located in the area. Most are famous for surviving the Bombings that took place durring WWII, and are now national landmarks. We got dinner in a small market area nearby.

After dinner, we walked to the Marina Bay area. This is the waterfront of Singapore, with skyscrapers along the shore and the famous Merlion on the waterfront. We first stopped at the Esplanade, a beautiful area for talking pictures of the city. The Esplanade itself is a building which from the front side is covered in little spikes, but has an area on the back that overlooks the water. It is here one finds the perfect view of the new Marina Bay Sands Resort, a huge hotel with an infinity swimming pool connecting the top of the three towers. Also the Singapore flyer is located on the water, and lights up with many different colors at night.

From the Esplanade we walked to the Merlion, and by now the sun had set and the lights in the city had all turned on. A fantastic light show incorporates almost every building in the Bay area, with most of the lasers coming from the top of Marina Bay Sands Resort. We stayed on the water front until the light show had ended. Overall, it was an amazing tour of the city, and an amazing view of the Singapore waterfront area.

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Posted by Cassi 09:57 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Singapore vs. USA

Little things that make a huge difference


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As I have only been here a few days, there is alot to get used to in Singapore. Some of the things are obvious; the culture, the rules, the food, the time change and so on. But there are many things I never considered that differ from the US in small ways, but that really stand out.

The top ones I've noticed so far include:

Light switches are upside down Mostly my fan is on in my room and my lights are off, but when I'd like to turn the lights on I always pick the wrong switch.

Restaurants don't have napkins I've eaten out every meal since I have arrived, and have yet to receive a napkin. I have seen some signs that you can buy napkins at the restaurant, and you get charged per number of napkins used. The best rate I have seen is 25 cents per napkin.

There are no knives You cut your food with a spoon or the side of your fork, which makes things very difficult to eat. When eating at Hawker stands they have every other utensil possible (forks, spoons, chopsticks) but they don't have knives.

No plastic bags When you go shopping here, at IKEA for example, they do not ask paper or plastic, but rather would you like to pay to use a bag or carry your items as are. It is a big movement to cut down on the waste. I believe the charge is 10 cents per bag.

There are no bugs Unlike the southern areas of the US, the warm air and humidity do not seam to produce the same number of bugs. I have yet to see a mosquito, or really any bugs for that matter. I expected there to be a billion everywhere, but there are about zero.

Cars will not stop for you In most major cities, if you are still on a cross walk when the light turns from red to green, the cars will not begin moving until you clear the way. Here they begin to go and honk at anyone left in the way. They just do not stop for people, and I will probably get hit by one before I leave. They also drive on the opposite side of the road and I always look the wrong way.

These are all very small differences that I never thought about, but have really stood out as I do day to day activities.

Posted by Cassi 01:08 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Sentosa Beach!

Where the water is warmer than the air


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The last few days have been very busy at NUS. Friday we had an international student orientation where over 600 exchange students gathered and listened to speakers talk about clubs and activities at NUS, some counselors told us about the services on campus, the registrars office talked about classes. Basically any questions we had about life at NUS were answered for us. Friday night we went to an area on the harbor front called St. James Power Station. There are 18 bars/clubs all in one building (for those of you who live in VT it resembles the Champlain Mill from the outside, and is all refurbished on the inside). They all connect through little walkways or on decks outside. It was really nice because once you got into one place and got a hand stamp, you could move about freely to other areas.

Yesterday we spent the entire day at Sentosa Island. It is an absolutely beautiful place, with picture perfect walkways and every type of entertainment you can imagine. There is indoor skydiving, segways, an alpine slide, a gondola etc. But the best part is the beaches. The beaches are BEAUTIFUL. There is music playing on loud speakers, and resorts with areas to sit and get food or have a few drinks. Palm trees are everywhere, and the sand is super soft. And the water must be about 85 degrees, as warm as the air. It is still very refreshing, and you could stay in the water for hours.

However, the only weird thing about the beach is the view. The island is beautiful, and the beach is nice... but out in the water there are dozens of huge freight ships. It reminded me of the lineup at the Panama Canal, giant tankers all sitting in the Harbor. You couldn't see the horizon because of the number of them. But even this could not take away from how amazing everything surround us was. We plan on going back to the beach again many many times in the next few months.

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Posted by Cassi 21:42 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Sentosa Beach Party

Foam Party!


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I know that last post was all about Sentosa Island, but it was so nice we decided to go back for a second day this weekend. The beach was still beautiful, the sand was still soft, but this time there was a huge beach party in the area we were at. Apparently the last Sunday of every month there is a 'Foam' party along the beach. None of the exchange students knew about it, but we decided to go check it out and ended up spending the rest of the day there. It was a lot of fun actually, a huge group of us went and we really enjoyed it.

Posted by Cassi 19:17 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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