Guest Post By: Business Administration Senior, Steven Hsieh. He is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship recipient who participated on Foster Exchange at the National University of Singapore for Fall Semester 2018.
When it’s recess week, you’ll know it is recess week. The week prior will be full of other exchange students asking if anyone would like to travel with them to South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia – even Australia. See, recess week is kind of special. It’s a week of no classes supposedly to prepare for midterms, but often you won’t have any midterms immediately after, so you can take advantage of this period to travel. I do not condone skipping all your studying to go take off to another country, but if you’ve kept up to date with your books, by all means take this opportunity.
Personally, I went to Bali. It’s a popular destination amongst other exchange students looking to stare not at the black wave of words in their textbooks, but instead the soft-orange glow of the sun as it sets on Bali’s pristine beaches. I have to say, I’m not a nature person and typically enjoy the comfort of the city, but Bali is truly beautiful. Give it a shot and you won’t be disappointed.
However, other options like Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia should offer other delights and thrills. Whatever country you go to, you’ll learn a bit more about what Southeast Asia has to offer and see how unique Singapore is amongst these other countries. I know some exchange students who fly out every other week to a new destination, and some who prefer to plant their roots and stay local. Whichever frequency of travel you prefer, regardless of if it’s reading week or not, international or domestic, explore.
For those local travelers, Singapore might seem small, but there’s a lot more to it than you’ll expect. Some of my favorite memories of Singapore weren’t created at the grand majesty of the Marina Bay Sands that you might know from Crazy Rich Asians, but rather the smaller establishments you’ll find near HDB’s. I had some amazing laksa in Yishun, a place that most exchangers won’t visit, and got to experience one of Singapore’s only true hot-springs. Meanwhile, there’s no denying that Singapore has an abundance of malls. From the massive shopping metropolis known as Orchard Street to the quiet shopping plazas that feed the HDB inhabitants, there’s always some shopping to be done. However, take a break from the shopping, and head over to the more residential areas in Singapore. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find because the life you see isn’t the glamorous dressed up lifestyle you see in the Central Business District, but rather just the everyday life of local Singaporeans.
Ultimately, I think traveling should be about balance. With each busy street in Singapore, there’s a quiet alley that offers its own charm. With each country that may appear to be exotic, there’s going to be another that seems more familiar. The more you travel both local and internationally, the better balanced your perception of the area around you becomes. Singapore truly is an excellent launchpad to Southeast Asia, with its affordable budget airlines like Scoot alongside its local ethnic diversity. Travel. Balance out your view points, and even the most seasoned travelers will have wished on their flight back home that they too, might have traveled even more.