Amareenda – Singapore Management University and Nanyang Technological University
Semester 2, 2018 – Semester 1, 2019
Bachelor of Business
I went on exchange in Singapore for a year and had the opportunity to study at two universities there – Singapore Management University (SMU) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The first was right in the heart of Singapore (much like QUT), and the latter was in the far west – almost at the border between Singapore and Malaysia. To summarise the highlights of my exchange, I compiled a top 5 list of what I currently miss about Singapore.
Even though I regularly complained that I missed Australian food when I was in Singapore, now that I’m back home, I am always dreaming about the cheap and delicious food I had in Singapore. Singaporean local food is heavily influenced by the three main ethnic groups – Chinese, Indian, and Malaysian. A few of the popular local foods include chilli crab, chicken rice, laksa, nasi lemak, roti prata, and kaya toast. My favourite was kaya toast, which is a popular breakfast dish typically served with tea or coffee and soft-boiled eggs, and only costs around $6 for the set! If you’re ever in need of breakfast (or a filling snack) ideas, go to Toast Box or Ya Kun and order a traditional kaya toast set! You will not regret it.
Another thing I miss are the efficient MRTs and buses in Singapore. MRTs are Singapore’s train/subway system and the main mode of transport. Since cars are so expensive to buy and maintain in Singapore, most people just take public transport everywhere. This means the transport system has to be very efficient. And it is! If you just missed the MRT or bus, don’t worry because the next one will come in 5 minutes! There are helpful maps everywhere and assistance desks as well as several apps with real-time information, so it’s very easy to navigate around the whole country.
Although some people aren’t aware, Singapore’s national language is English. However, just like places like Australia, England, and America have their own slang and accents, Singapore does too – called Singlish. Some phrases and words that are used a lot are:
- “is it?” (e.g. A: “I missed my class today!” B: “Oh, you forgot is it?”);
- “can” and “already” (e.g. A: “Could I have extra chilli?” B: “Can” or “I put in the whole bottle already!”);
- and saying “damn” instead of “very” – at any given day you will probably hear someone saying “it’s damn hot today”
The university culture in Singapore is very immersive. When you join a club, that club becomes a part of you. You joined the archery club? They’re your family now. At NTU where there are various residential halls, inter-hall games are regularly held where the teams from different halls compete at table tennis, badminton, and other sport and activities, and it gets very competitive. Additionally, wearing merch from your faculty, club, or university is very common in Singapore, and no matter where you go in the country, you will see at least a few people wearing T-shirts or jackets showing off a part of who they are.
The best thing about exchange was making friends from around the world. I would recommend going on exchange to anywhere in the world purely based on all the friends you can make when you make the effort to meet people and spend time with them. Just be prepared to make a list of all the countries you need to visit in order to see them all again!