Singapore is the 2nd safest city in the world (2015). Singapore Management University and its’ students are of a high standard on a global level. English makes Singapore attractive to many Westerners –but you’ll still be one of a minority; to my knowledge I was the only Australian at SMU (though there were two Singaporean students whom went to Australia to complete degrees, only to return as exchange students to their home country!).
Many exchange students elected to stay at the SMU-contracted hostel. I chose not to as I was concerned about the number of rules, and the signing of a semester-long contract. Also, the hostel was not exactly close to SMU. I stayed in a filthy yet homely ‘backpacker hostel’ in Singapore’s red-light district –Geylang (only 4km away from the city and SMU). I picked the hostel purely by chance from browsing the net and seeing the attractive price (SGD $22 a night, then later SGD $500 month). I lived there the whole time, and next-to-no tourists stayed there (the Trip Advisor reviews repelled most!). I enjoyed staying there as it had a family-feel to it with a dozen Singaporean resident ‘uncles’ calling it home (they were mostly poor, or people who chose a simple, communal lifestyle, or whom simply needed a bed -given most worked 6-7 days a week, doing 9 or 12 hour shifts). I think the communal living and daily chatter was the only sense of sanity for many of these very hard working men –many complained, and, also mentioned the luckiness of Australian society and work culture.
Before departing Australia, I started networking with several people living in Singapore via LinkedIn.com. I successfully arranged to hang out with a consulting professional a number of occasions and ended up becoming good friends discussing many topics about Singapore. I also arranged an internship with a company. Although it fell through, by chance, one of my Singaporean uncles at the hostel told me about his daughter working at an events and team building company, so I managed to work a few events and make some money too which was interesting and fun!