I had always known I’d wanted to do my work-integrated learning placement overseas but had no idea it would be in Singapore! To be honest, prior to being accepted as one of the New Colombo Plan recipients to Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), I knew very little about Singapore other than it was a humid country with a large international airport. Upon arriving I soon discovered it was a bustling and incessantly clean city, and yes of course, so humid that I was literally dripping with sweat as soon as I walked out the airport doors – this didn’t change much over the 5 months!
Prior to arriving in Singapore I had just completed a two-month adventure through Europe exploring Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris, London, Dubrovnik, Mykonos, Berlin, Prague, Budapest and many more cities. So to say the least, I was absolutely stuffed! I slept at a hostel for almost two days straight before the big move. Onwards and upwards to my new home for the next 5 months!
I arrived at NYP for the first time, lost and a little bit nervous. I soon found I had nothing to worry about as I was greeted by the lovely Mr Neo who showed me to the apartments and chatted non-stop about the things I should do while in Singapore. I was the first to move in, but within a few hours I was greeted by my new room mates and what would become my family for the next 5 months – Alessandro and Michelle. I think we were all in a bit of disbelief as we unpacked our bags. It seemed very surreal and difficult to grasp the fact that this was just day 1 of a 5 month stay. Not to mention, the quiet thoughts and concerns – will I be able to survive with these people or will they drive me crazy? We got on like a house on fire – almost literally (thanks to Alessandro cooking chicken and sending black smoke out the kitchen).
While studying at NYP we got into a good routine – work all day, come home and cook, venture into the city on the weekends and enter tourist mode, Wednesday night dinners with NYP friends and the occasional run with Michelle when we were feeling motivated (or when I pushed her out the door). Some of the best things we did in Singapore would have to be the Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios, MacRitchie hike, ZoukOut festival and of course, all of the food! A plate of chicken rice for only $2! How can I go back to paying $5 for a coffee after that!
We were studying with a group of Singapore final year project students. All of who are the loveliest and also funniest people I met on my trip. However, I must admit that I did struggle with the language barrier – sometimes speaking too fast, or Singlish interchanged with Malay it could be hard to follow.
With the completion of my project, farewell to the Singapore gang and return of the apartment keys, it was home time! I’d been away for just over 7 months, so I was ready to come home. One thing I didn’t expect coming home, was how strange and slightly foreign it would feel to be back amongst Australians. Even just passing through immigration and customs at the airport in Perth, I realised how much I’d missed the comfort of home.
- Read more about Bethany’s experience here