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Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

I’ve found Singapore to be a land of contradictions. Its not like China where you see whacky stuff all the time. Its not like Hong Kong where you’re constantly floating in a sea of people and energy. This city-state is both super comfortable and super challenging at the same time.

When you live on campus you can’t get enough convenience.  Everything you need is 10 minutes away: food, shopping, people, bars, sports, social clubs, the clinic and library. But the problem is you’ll be drenched in your own sweat by the time you get there. The only time its not hot here (not even night time) is after a random thunderstorm that intensely rains for less than an hour and gives a brief reprieve from the relentless humidity and temperature.

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Infrastructure is super efficient, like the metro and buses. Giant crowds are moved out of concert or sports venues better than kelpies move cattle. But then I almost can’t believe it when people crowd around bus doors so that its difficult for people to get out, or the amount of bureaucracy it takes just to be issued a student card, or to enrol in a subject.

People can be super friendly and unbelievably helpful. My first day here, I asked a local where to buy a pillow, and he not only took me to two stores on campus, but when they were out of stock he helped me out of campus to the nearest shopping mall. He showed me where to buy pillows, but also where the money exchange was, supermarkets, cheap places to buy things. He waved away my protests that he was being too generous with his time. But then its also hard not to notice the ‘us and them’ culture that exists between locals and exchange students. Also between different groups of locals. I’ve noted several instances of casual racism, despite Singapore generally being fairly multicultural and harmonious.

Despite being one of the richest countries on earth, you can still get delicious food for $3 or $4. Controversial point: I think Malaysian food is better. And its only 1/3 the price! Might be something to do with the MSG content, but hey don’t ask don’t worry right.

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You may have heard about the harsh laws here. While I would definitely avoid littering or starting fights, there is a strong feeling of ‘live and let live’ here, where so long as you don’t impact someone else’s freedom or happiness, there is still a lot of personal freedom in this relatively strict country. Probably more so for the exchange students than the locals who take up to seven subjects. But this means you will probably have time to explore Southeast Asia, an awesome benefit of studying at NTU.

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Peter Fallon
Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Engineering Science
Nanyang Technological University

Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.

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