Daily Life, Singapore Style.

Written by Clarissa Suharli, Foster undergraduate

Being one of the most liveable countries in the world, I’ve always wanted to stay in Singapore for longer than just a few days. However, being just a tiny island country in Southeast Asia, one reservation I had prior to choosing this place is that I’ll run out of fun things to do. I mean, it takes less than two hours to get from one end of Singapore to the other. But this place proved me wrong. Not only did it become a loving home, but were always interesting things to experience. Here are my top five.

In Singapore, I…

1. Went clubbing on top of Marina Bay Sands, the most iconic building in Singapore…
Look at the view. Enough said.

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2. Went to the Universal Studios whenever I was bored…
Sentosa Island, a small island just south of Singapore, has a reputation of being Asia’s favorite playground. It hosts Universal Studios Singapore, a similar theme park to the one in California. Thankfully, it’s only half an hour away from campus so whenever I’m bored with studying, it’s nice to know that taking a break just to ride some attractions is doable.

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3. Drowned myself in food…
And the best way to do it, of course, is by appreciating all the amazing food Singapore is blessed with. From the national dishes, such as chicken rice and chili crab, to Peranakan cuisine like laksa, to yummy Indian butter chicken to yummy waffle brunch to burrito bowls similar to Chipotle, Singapore is a food heaven.

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4. Never felt unappreciative of amazing architectures…
Design-wise, this art school is my favorite building in the world. And it’s located in Singapore.

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5. Picked up some Singlish, the unofficial language of Singapore.
With vocabularies consisting of words originating from 6 other languages, learning Singlish and picking up some foreign words in the process is a fun everyday challenge.

“I’ll never regret my choice of going to Singapore – it’s truly an awesome place to spend your semester in.”


Posted by goabroad - June 12th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Apt 3, 11-21 Rose Street

Written by Amy Shin, Foster undergraduate

New country, new school, new everything. Of all the new things that were undeniably about to enter my life, I was most anxious about was the people I was going to live with, my roommates. I went in trying not to have too high of expectations and telling myself that if we didn’t get along, I could always hang out with different people. But who was I kidding, I knew that these humans were the ones I would wake up with, go to sleep with, and basically see more than anyone else. With all of this in mind I moved into my apartment.

 

For being strangers, we were actually not awkward at all and I seriously thanked the heavens that I could at least converse with these people. Within the next few days we learned more about one another and explored Sydney together as roommates. At this point we were all fairly comfortable around each other, but still missing the close friendships back home.

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*Beginning: notice the awkward space between

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Me, Madison, and Ant(oinette)

I could not tell you at what point that the switch flipped from being just people that cordially lived together to people who are now depressed beyond words to be apart. It could have been that we were literally living in a confined space for five months and named ourselves “Club Diversity”. Maybe it was our weekly dinner outings and love for MasterChef Australia. I could even blame it on the alcohol. No matter what the reason was, we had an infinite amount of inside jokes and endless group messages by the end of the semester.

 

I was lucky enough to find people that I could be my completely weird self around, people who I now don’t think I could have survived Sydney without. I know that this is the most cliché and cheesy thing to happen after studying abroad, but I am beyond happy that it happened to me and wish it upon anyone abroad.


Posted by goabroad - June 10th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



College Life, Singapore Style.

Written by Clarissa Suharli, Foster undergraduate

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Have you ever achieved/seen/tried/tasted/been exposed to so many new things in such a short amount of time? Well, I did during the four wonderful months I was in Singapore for exchange. Granted, this is not my first time living abroad far away from home, but life hasn’t been this rewarding for me before. It’s difficult to sum up everything into just a few blog posts, so I figured that I’ll make short lists about my experiences. In this post, I’ll talk a bit about my school, the National University of Singapore.

Here goes. At NUS, I…

  1. Met the smartest, most dedicated, and super passionate bunch of people: my classmates and professors.
    Being ranked no 1 in Asia, classes are filled with the smartest and brightest. Makes it really hard to be on top of the curve, but the quality of education is top notch.
  2. Lived one building away from an ice cream parlor, a really nice infinity pool, and a 24/7 computer lab and study space.
    Let me introduce you to University Town in the National University of Singapore, also known as the best place to live for college students.Singapore_2
  3. Had access to tons of activities that cater to all sorts of interests…Like going on a midnight biking trip to grab supper, dragon boating in the Singapore River, seeing a poetry reading by Jane Hirshfield (who came all the way from the States, no less), staying up late to discuss beauty from the philosophical point of view, exercising to bollywood zumba, to learning how to sail, these are just a few activities among all that’s offered to students.Singapore_3
  4. Tried archery for the first time
    Singaporeans are keen on exercising and keeping themselves fit, and thankfully there are a lot of options on campus. Now I can proudly say that I can assemble a bow and shoot arrows, like Katniss Everdeen :)
  5. Took an elective class on social media
    NUS is the best in offering fun elective classes – another friend of mine took a class about Popular Culture in Southeast Asia, while another took one about Food in Japan. I mean, I love studying in general, but this is just FUN.

In short, NUS is a wonderful choice to consider for your exchange semester. Not only the school, but Singapore as a city is also a great place to live in. But more on that later!


Posted by goabroad - May 11th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



I’m Actually in Australia

Written by Amy Shin, Foster undergraduate 

I really had no idea what Sydney would be like. I might have imagined kangaroos to be hopping around the streets, a scene out of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s 2000 film “Our Lips are Sealed” (kudos to you if you get that reference), or the ultimate dream: extremely attractive Australian men around every corner.

 

As I left the airport in a taxi to my new home for the next five months, I couldn’t help but look out the window the entire time and take in the new scenery. My apartment for the next five months was located in the quaint suburb of Chippendale, which I soon discovered was an ideal location close to school, Central train station, and the supermarket. Though I didn’t know my roommates beforehand, I could already tell by our excited exchanges of “hey!” that we were off to a good start.

 

A few days later was our exchange student orientation, which happened to be on what I believe was one of the hottest days in Sydney. As my roommates and I sat in the University’s Great Hall, our makeup melting off our faces, it hit me that February in this country meant the middle of summer and that I really was in the southern hemisphere of the world.

 

After being in Sydney for over four days and I still had not seen the infamous Sydney Opera House. With this in mind, my roommates and I decided to finally make our way downtown to Circular Quay. We clearly looked like tourists trying to navigate the bus system and constantly checking Google maps to make sure we weren’t lost, but after a short struggle later, we could see the water in the Sydney Cove.

 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was right in front, standing proud in the harbor and as we walked a little bit more towards Bennelong Point, we could see glimpses of the Opera House glistening under the bright Australian sun. It was truly an epic moment as I got closer and closer and took in the sight of what I had only seen through pictures before. I went in not expecting much, it is just a building after all, but trust me, it’s so much more than that.

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At the end of the week, it was about time that I saw some classic Australian animals. The roomies and I took a train to Featherdale Wildlife Park where we could touch koalas and feed kangaroos and wallabies. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a five year old since I was actually five years old. I was on a natural high of pure joy from witnessing these creatures with my own eyes and you don’t have to ask, I have all the pictures in the world to reminisce with. And that was officially the beginning of my adventure in Oz.

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Posted by goabroad - May 10th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Chapter 2: Removal

Written by Evan Rumpza, Foster undergraduate

Let’s recap how we got here. 4:30AM, wake up. Deposit 1,000 Baht into my pocket. Leave passport and any other form of ID, lest we get caught. 4:45AM, get tuk tuk. Argue in broken English about the drop off location. 5:00AM, avoid the guard walking around the barbed wire fence. Duck under said fence. 5:15AM, wake the sleeping homeless man. Bribe him 200 Baht to open pad locked gate. 5:30AM, climb.

49 stories later I sat atop Sathorn Unique, better known as Bangkok’s infamous Ghost Tower. The sun was just rising, but we had already been up for hours. Heartbeat still racing from the unassisted assent, we sat victorious. The little band of rebels I called friends and I had raced the sunrise and won.

What lay before us was an unobstructed three-hundred-and-sixty degree view of downtown Bangkok. To our left was the Lebua sky bar (where they shot the Hangover part II). We had been there just a few nights before. The view was similar, except here there were no fifteen dollar cocktails waiting for us at the top. Rather, we were currently being treated to a natural drunk. Thanks in no small part to every shade of orange and red reflecting through the fog and dust as the sun crested the skyline. Welcome to Thailand.

In all honesty, I was planning on writing this reflection about my experience in Australia. However, after two weeks in the Land of Smiles, I am convinced it should be on everyone’s “to travel” list. And isn’t learning all these things exactly what study abroad is about?

Anyway, I decided a while ago that Thailand was where I wanted to spend my single week of freedom from classes. I wanted to so badly that I decided to carve an additional week out from my studies. So now I faced the second plane ticket in a row with a destination that was truly foreign to me.

I flew from Sydney to Kuala Lampur, Malasyia then on to Phuket, Thailand. One night there and it was off to the Gulf of Thailand and a week on island time. A few buses and a ferry later we arrived in Koh Phangan. If you have heard of it before, it’s probably thanks to the Full Moon Party, and before you even ask, of course we went. The first night was spent in preparation for the next day. April 3rd was the full moon, and on Koh Phangan that meant only one thing, we would not be sleeping. Without going into too much detail I will just say the island lived up to its reputation.

Next up was Koh Tao. One of the top worldwide sites for SCUBA diving, how perfect for this newly certified diver. (I got my certification the weekend before in Sydney.) We spent the days snorkeling and SCUBA diving on the water and racing ATVs and scooters through the streets at night. We climbed to the top of Nang Yuan Island and jumped from a few boats. The nightlife consisted of beach bars and one incredible night at a four star resort playing in a pool with a view to die for.

Then, just like that, it was off to Bangkok. First stop, the sky bar at Lebua. Fantastic drinks with an even more fantastic view. (I think Amy and I made UW Student Life with a picture from Lebua.) A pants only policy almost excluded one from our group, however as it turns out the locals are aware of this. After a strange talk with a woman in a bush and a 150 baht exchange, he was right back with the rest of us – a fresh pair of rented trousers around his waist. The next day consisted of a few temples, some meditation with Buddhist monks, BB gun target practice, and consumption of the worlds largest grilled cricket. Little did I know, that would not be the last strange thing I would eat. Later, Khao San Road, the mere mention of its name sends a shiver down the spine of any experienced South Asia backpacker – or so I’ve heard. After yet another perilous tuk tuk ride, we found ourselves in the middle of a street party like nothing I’ve ever seen, definitely a place to hit while in Bangkok. It is also the location where I ate a scorpion – whole. Moving on, the next day consisted of world class (knockoff) shopping and catching a flick at the local cinema, nothing too eventful. We had an early morning coming up.

So there we were, the next morning, on top of the world. But what goes up must come down. We said goodbye to our little band of rebels and I boarded a train to Chiang Mai. The next two days were a whirlwind of tigers, elephants, and Songkran or Thai New Year. Also known as the worlds craziest water fight. People literally blocked traffic and dumped bucket loads of ice water onto passing motorists, tourists, bicyclists, really anything that moved. It was insanity. We also snuck away just long enough to visit an elephant sanctuary. Which was a huge highlight of the trip. I’m a fan of picnics; I’m a bigger fan of picnics with one-ton elephants.

To be honest, this reflection has absolutely nothing to do with Sydney, but rather the Study Abroad experience in general. This adventure would not have been possible without it. If you have been, you know what I mean. If you are going, seize every moment. Spend your money and effort making memories, because you rarely regret the things you did do, only the things you didn’t.

**Picture is of the Sathorn Unique at sunrise.

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Posted by goabroad - May 6th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Chapter One: Arrival

Written by Evan Rumpza, Foster undergraduate

It was 75 degrees on the plane – the sky was grey. I left Seattle with one large dark green suitcase, a light green 48-liter backpack and a grey schoolbag. I had enough clothes for two weeks and no clue what lay ahead. Sydney, Australia was the destination on my boarding pass. It was on the other side of the world, and seventeen hours later so was I.

It was 95 degrees in the airport – the sky was clear. I still had on my long pants and layered jacket from take off, a poor decision if you have ever been to Australia in mid February. The thirty-minute ride by train combined with the five-minute walk to my hostel, bags in tow, left me sticky and gasping for air. Solid start, I only had five months to go.

Two weeks later I signed my first lease agreement. I had successfully navigated the complex and expensive Sydney housing market and landed a three bedroom flat in a little bohemian suburb known as Newtown just minutes from campus. The air conditioner might not work, but it is a good place. It took a little convincing but eventually each of the four beds was filled. A Welshman, a Canadian, an Italian, and myself – a completely dysfunctional group of exchange kids who had known each other for less than a month were now supposed to live and learn together.

One hurdle down – next was class. The funny thing about study abroad is that you often times put a good amount of effort into the “abroad” part but neglect the “study”. In the case of registering, this could not have held truer. See, registration for exchange kids at the University of Sydney amounts to this:

Step 1: Blindly enter classes you might like.

Step 2: Computer slots you into random classes at random times.

Step 3: If you are unhappy you must submit a hard copy change request.

No online registration. No add/drop link. No, instead if you are unhappy with the classes/dates/times that the computer randomly selects for you, expect to submit a paper in person and cross your fingers you do not need additional faculty approval. Above all else, hope to whatever higher power these credits still transfer and that you graduate on time. Not the most pleasant experience.

Second hurdle down, and after all of that, I really was quite fortunate. I even landed an internship with one of Australia’s leading investment research firms. But enough about the boring stuff, I am supposed to be selling Australia, and so far I am doing a pretty bad job.

Lets see, the weather is fantastic. The beaches are fantastic. The surfing is fantastic. There is every type of food imaginable. The nightlife compares favorably with some of the best locations in the world. The campus is beautiful. The people are very welcoming. I mean, you can trust me, look how big a critic I’ve been up to now.

Being serious for just one moment, moving to Sydney has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I knew that the moment I first stepped out onto the Sydney Harbor Bridge and peered down at the billowing white sails of the world famous opera house. To anyone who has ever travelled, you know the feeling. To be so wrapped up in a moment. It is easy to find, but impossible to hold onto. I hope that this trip is full of moments like this. I will be sure to get back to you on that, unless the sharks, snakes, and spiders get me first.

**Below is an actual picture my roommate Jamie Chapman took on a day trip to Manly Beach.

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Posted by goabroad - April 27th, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Prada, Black, and 3 piece suits

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Oops, don’t spill your triple shot espresso on your Chanel wallet. Bocconi University means Prada, black, and 3 piece suits. Studying at Bocconi is a unique, culturally-diverse, and terrific opportunity. For all you finance majors- did you know that Goldman Sachs recruits the most out of Bocconi University for its ivy-league standard of Finance and management education?

I loved being part of Bocconi; everyone is super ambitious and interesting to talk to. Students from all over the world- Argentina, Iceland, Korea, Australia, Sudan, and Brazil study here and it was fascinating getting to know them and talking to them about their background and working with them.

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In one of my classes, I had the opportunity to work with a startup called Picsage in Milan, where I basically helped redesign their application- I was able to prototype and wireframe their application and redesign some of their features. It was so sweet that I was able to have an impact on a startup based in Milan!


Posted by goabroad - February 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Life in the Fast Lane

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Milan: a city of business, food, fashion, and design.

Living in Milan is a metropolitan and fabulous lifestyle. Since I’ve been here, I’ve already been to Milan Fashion Week- code for a high-image, luxurious, and expensive event with celebrities and designers sporting everything from Prada to Tom Ford.  In every designer store- there were runways setup showcasing models wearing the latest season and hottest trends. It was such a mind-blowing experience, to be part of the creativity of these designers and to see these models on the runway and celebrate the end of the fashion season with the locals.

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Before coming to Milan, I did not really eat bread or cheese—but since living in Milan I have eaten copious amounts of bread, salami, STEAK, cheese, gnocchi – anything pasta related, you name it- I’ve eaten it. And I LOVE IT. Food in Milan is so fresh that once you buy something at the grocery store – you must eat it within 48 hours or it literally will go bad. Aperitivo in Milan is a great cultural experience and “do as the Italians do” sort of thing. It is basically when you order a drink for 10 euros and that drink comes with a full buffet of food- from pizza to beef stews to pasta to soups to fresh salads and to pastry-filled deserts. It is quite an offer you can’t refuse. And don’t forget about the Milan Christmas Markets!

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Business and design go hand in hand here in Milan; they have super cool art galleries like Van Gogh and exhibits displaying everything from contemporary art to Picasso to the Renaissance. The economy in Italy is not doing well, but in Milan – it doesn’t seem to show, there are a ton of large corporations in Milan and there also is a plethora of startups. I loved going to the art shows and meeting local designers and seeing their work. The Milanese are passionate about art history and it really shows.

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Posted by goabroad - February 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Waka Waka Africa

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Morocco- the land of the Souk markets, brilliant tapestries, camels, and nomads.

I went to Morocco this past week with 5 other friends in my program at Bocconi. I couldn’t believe that Milan à Marrakech was only 140 Euros so I had to jump on that opportunity.

At first, with the whole Ebola situation that was happening, my group was hesitant and nervous about going to Africa. However, I was able to convince them otherwise.

Day 1: We arrived in Marrakech and immediately are on our way to the desert. We stop by at a few Moroccan villages on the way and stay in a hotel overnight in the Atlas Mountains. We passed by beautiful, natural landscapes of Berber villages and Boumalene du Dades.

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Moroccan food is so good, the Tajin chicken pots, the mint tea, the delectable honey and butter with bread.

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Day 2&3: We finally arrive in the desert. The temperature is hot during the day but freezing during the night. We arrive at a beautiful, isolated hotel in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It is stunning, with its castle like fortress and blue lagoon of a pool inside in the hotel. From there, we ride camels to our campsite- for we are spending the night in Nomad berber tents tonight. We hear drum music beckoning us to the campsite in the middle of the Sahara. THIS IS LIVING. Before arriving in the tents, we go sand-boarding through the desert, and admire the sunset. Sleeping under the stars in the middle of the desert was a surreal experience- it made me truly appreciate the nature of silence. The next morning we wake up and camel back to our hotel. Our host at the hotel surprises us with ATVS- so we spend that day ATVing through the sand dunes and swimming in the blue lagoon.

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Day 4: We are back on the road on our way to Marrakech; we go to beautiful, fortified villages and see where Game of Thrones is filmed at Ait Ben Haddou. We go to the oldest city in Marrakech and marvel at its splendor of its architecture.

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Day 5: Marrakech: the red city of Morocco. The Souk markets are out of this world, all sorts of sights, smells, tastes, and voices immediately hit all your senses. Bargaining with the vendors was quite challenging but fun and when you finally got the price you wanted- it was a feeling of success. I bought a lot of ornate plates, scarves, jewelry, and mantelpieces here in the markets.

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Posted by goabroad - February 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink



Seoul to Busan

Written by Melissa Jung, Foster undergraduate

Next to Seoul, Busan is the second most well known city in Korea. I made the trip south with some friends to visit for a weekend. I was amazed at how beautiful it was there! Since we only had two days, we did all that we could in the short amount of time we had. We visited a small village in Busan that was famous for its colorful wall art throughout the alleys…and the view was beautiful!

Busan was just a gorgeous city. The walkways were lined with bright, golden trees where my friends and I probably ended up taking a hundred pictures. In Seoul, you can’t see the ocean, so it was breath taking when I saw the sea. We just sat there for an hour admiring the view and reflecting on how amazing our trip to Busan had been.

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Posted by goabroad - February 23rd, 2015 - 0 comments - Permalink