I spent six months in Singapore last year to write my master thesis, and it took me a while to realise what I had learned during that period. I did not find the time to write my thoughts until now. Looking back, here are the most important thoughts and memories from my time in the Lion City.
At the beginning, I was really skeptical and didn’t know whether I want to go to Asia and experience its culture. It was not part of my plan to spend a semester abroad during my studies. I thought it’s too much time-consuming and doesn’t fit into my schedule. Nevertheless, when my studies draw to a close, I wanted to go abroad. Afterwards, I think it was an exceptional experience I would never want to miss.
Leave your comfort zone
It’s not the easiest thing – you have to manage some additional administrative stuff, but the pay off you get is even greater. Things such as terminating your rental agreement or other contracts are done faster than expected. The hurdle is only in the mind. Once you have done it, everything seems easy in retrospect. You learn to cope with uncertainty, to organize your life, and find your way in places you have never been to before. It will help you grow as a person.
My time in Singapore was really busy and intense. Every weekend we did something different, except in our last few weeks when we we spent seven days a week in the office. We work on weekdays and we spend our free time somewhere other than our apartment (in Singapore, flats are so small that you don’t want to spend a lot time in them). We checked out the must-see sights in Singapore and in other countries, but we hope we had enough time to explore more! Singapore is the hub of Southeast Asia, and within a few hours of flight you can be in many different countries.
Be more open
During my stay abroad, I definitely became more open and respectful towards different cultures. The way of life is very different on the other side of the world. I also learned to worry less. Life is pretty easy abroad, because the only belongings you have are the ones you bring in your suitcase. It’s really interesting to live with only the stuff you really need. Time is also much more valuable when you stay abroad, so don’t let anything bring you down. Always try to be happy and enjoy the experience.
Time stood still
When I arrived back home after my stay overseas, it seemed that time didn’t pass. If you decide to do a semester abroad, I can promise you, you won’t miss anything at home. You will experience so much more on your stay abroad than what your friends get at home. And once you come back, everything becomes normal and you fall into routine quickly.
One of my goals is to continue the intensity and pace of life I experienced and don’t waste time hanging around at home. However, this turned out to be difficult because many obligations kept me from doing what I really wanted. At least I am not keen on sitting at home and wasting time in front of the TV, but consciously trying to use my time to either be productive and get work done or spend valuable time outside.
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
If you are undecided spending a term abroad, I promise you that you will have a good experience, and I encourage you to pack your suitcase and go!
PS: Some other interesting observations about Asia:
People are very friendly and polite, especially if you look like a Western tourist. In places like Thailand and Indonesia, you can find hospitality that is not found in Europe. It seems people are addicted to smartphones and taking selfies. Those people who have some free time usually spend it in one of the huge shopping malls that can be found everywhere.
PPS: Oh, today is Singapore’s national day – Happy 50th birthday Singapore! ?
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