Living in Singapore
Welcome to the third part in my living abroad experience story. This time I take you to Asia and the crown jewel Singapore where I created memories for life ten years ago. The first time I lived abroad was in Boca Raton, Florida and that you can read about HERE. If you wanna read my introduction to living abroad click HERE. But now, over to the Singapore story.
Singapore was the second country I settled down in outside of Sweden. It was in 2007 and I was 22 years old and a student at the Bachelor in Business Administration program at Jönköping International Business School and we got the opportunity to study abroad for a year. I had visited Singapore on a family vacation in 2006 and that moment I knew I wanted to move there so I focused a lot during my studies the next semester to be able to get an exchange semester at one of the most popular places for doing an exchange, Singapore Management University (SMU) in Singapore. And I made it.
Moving to Singapore
It was me and four other students from my university that got accepted to the top ranked business school in Asia and in the beginning of August we moved there without having a place to stay at and we barely know each other with more than name and a familiar face. In Singapore we met up at a hostel, Sleepy Sams where it turned out that also a lot of other exchange students from all around the world also lived when arranging for a permanent place to stay. I was the first one in the Swedish crew to arrive and my first night I made friends with some Danish and French people over drinks. Then the rest of my Swedish mates came and we started to hunt for apartments in Singapore. If it is difficult to find housing in Singapore 2017 it was also difficult in 2007. And extremely expensive. We had some time pressure aswell since we already booked a weekend getaway to nearby Bintan island so in two days we had to find something. So after a handful of showings we found an unfurnished penthouse with pool and sauna (!) for 30 000 SEK a month at Kembangan road at the East Coast of Singapore near the subway with the same name. We moved in, went to IKEA to have meatballs and get the most essential things then we celebrated with a third night out in a row in Singapore before the following morning going to Bintan island.
Studding in Singapore
Singapore Management University is located in the heart of Singapore right at Orchaid road so it was convenient to go there. The first day we had some kind of orientation and immediately we were a big group of exchange students from Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, US, Canada, Norway, Japan and UK that became friends and decided on having a party. One of many, many parties during the months in Singapore. The uni in Singapore was supposed to be challenging but I thought it wasn’t so the time I used for studies wasn’t that much. Before the summer we got an amount of credits to bid online for courses and I got all four mandatory courses I had to take during my semester and an extra one. Maritime and shipping logistics, Strategic brand Management, World travel and tourism, Retail management and Service marketing. I had decided on a quite busy schedule going to uni the full Tuesday from 8-22:30, Wednesday 12:30-22:30 and then Thursday 8-12 but it was worth it. I focused on the studies during the mandatory lectures so I had not to use too much time for studies. There was a limit to two exchange students from my exchange program in each class and there was a lot of top students from India and other scholars from developing countries working 24-7 for getting one of the limited amounts of A’s from the classes. I loved the way the classes were structured. In many of my classes the whole semester was based on solving business cases coming up with creative ideas based on theory of real life problems associated with each topic. The professors were from all around the world and I learned a lot although studies was not my biggest priority in Singapore. One of the best things with going to the uni was seeing friends and spending the time inside in the aircon environment.
Sparetime in Singapore
I have always loved to play soccer so one of the things I did before moving to Singapore was to get in touch with the women soccer team where I started to play. It was a really good way to get to know some locals that I still have contact with. We had a lot of fun, practicing, playing games and doing social activities. I really recommend getting to know the locals while studding abroad.
My sporty side also signed up for some running races in Singapore that was held during my time there. Singapore marathon (10K distance), Run for hope at Sentosa Island and Grand Eastern women 10K. I was training five or six days a week while living in Singapore and a lot of time I ran a 10K course at East Coast park nearby our house or I visited the gym at SMU.
The clubbing scene in Singapore was also something I visited frequently. At least three times a week we went clubbing at MOS, Zouk and Double O where it was free drinks for ladies on Wednesdays. Perfect for poor students in Singapore where alcohol was more than expensive. Also I went to so many house parties I cannot count. The group of international exchange students that met during the first day became super close friends and I always loved to do things in big groups so I had the time of my life this half year doing fun things almost every day. Apart from clubbing we went bowling, visiting freezing cinemas, studied for exams at Sentosa island, visited each others pools, watched a wakeboard pro exchange student wake boarding, ate super hot Indian food and explored Singapore from inside out.
Travel in Asia
Singpore has the best location in South East Asia for travels so since I already was a travel fan I spent a lot of time traveling aswell. The first trip was with my house mates to Bintan island in Indonesia for a few nights. We stayed at a hostel where we ate all food they had and drank all alcohol, got stranded on an island and had a fun time together. My second trip was a hiking trip to Malaysia. I still don’t know why me, that is so afraid of bugs, animals and the wild went on this trip but I did it and was not afraid although it included hiking for two days and camping at a nice waterfall. During our fall break one of my friends from home came to visit and we went to the Philippines to check out Manila and Boracay. It was an amazing trip and I loved Boracay. Some weeks later we were about 30 exchange students that went to Koh Phoning in Thailand for the Fullmoon party where it was flooding and raining the whole stay except for the evening the party was held. After that me, a german girl and my Deutch friend went to Phuket to study for our exams and chill at the beach but we ended up at a resort where all Swedish families lived, my German friend became sick and had to stay at the room and I which is super afraid of dogs didn’t wanted to leave the resort due to all stray dogs outside was stucked in a hotel for three days. It is really cheap to fly from Singapore so it was not a problem to live on a student budget and still travel.
Life in Singapore
It was not a culture chock for me moving to Singapore. It feels like they have kind of the same lifestyle as the Nordic countries but modified to the climate. You hang out with your friends eating or doing things in shopping malls due to the heat. One of the first thing a Singaporean asks you is ”what is your favorite food” so be prepared for that one. It is easy to move around with subway or with taxis. But it is difficult to find taxis when the tropical rain showers come. The first thing a Singaporean university student is buying when they are finished school is a high end brand bag. That is an essential thing to own in Singapore. University students stay at home. Eating at home is not common at all in Singapore and the food is high class and cheap so there is no reason for doing it. I loved staying in Singapore and my half year as an exchange student was the best time of my life. I go back to Singapore once a year and love it every time. Together with Hong Kong and USA I dream about moving here one more time in my life.
Any questions about living in Singapore? going on exchange? other stuff? next time I will take tell my story about living in Seoul, South Korea.
/ Pernilla the living abroad lover