A Brief Introduction: A Voyaging Scholar in Singapore


Ryann Kwan, voyaging scholar number two here.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a third-year Scholar’s Electives student in Western’s BMSc program.  I’m currently working towards an Honors Specialization in Medical Science, and this year I’m on exchange at the National University of Singapore (which, as I’m sure you can deduce, is located in the wonderful country that is Singapore).

Now before I start posting about all the cool things I’m getting to experience while I’m here, I figured I would give you a brief description of my new country of residence.

The first thing you need to know about Singapore is that it is located in South-East Asia at the tip of the Malay peninsula, right (and I mean right) above the equator.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the map:

Yes. That white line right below the red star represents zero degrees latitude.

This means that Singapore is one HOT country.  Literally.  I’m talking 30 degrees every day, even in the dead of “winter”.  Actually, the locals here say that Singapore has two seasons:  hot and sunny, and hot and rainy.  We’re currently getting into the latter of the two, and it thunderstorms about every other night.  Let me tell you, you don’t know the meaning of “rolling thunder” until you’ve sat through a thunderstorm in Singapore.  It’s insane!

To cope with the heat, Singaporeans don’t really walk if they can help it.  The result?  Public transit here runs like a dream (especially if you start drawing comparisons to London buses…).  You never have to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus or a train no matter where you’re going, said vehicles are never late, they run quickly and efficiently, and as an added bonus, they’re super clean!

That’s another thing about Singapore.  This country is BEAUTIFUL.  And I’m not just talking about the palm trees, birds of paradise and other tropical flora that line every street (although they are stunning).

Palm trees and stunning tropical flora line the streets.

Singapore actually has strict laws about littering, so the streets, sidewalks and public buildings are all relatively spotless.

Streets and sidewalks are spotless and gorgeous.

Speaking of strict laws, the running joke here is that Singapore is a “fine” city.  There are a lot of rules and laws that, if broken, will cost you a hefty fine.  No littering, spitting, chewing gum, food or drink in MRT (mass rapid transit) stations, durians on trains or buses, inappropriate displays of affection, smoking in public areas, and the list goes on.  The best part?  As far as I can tell, everyone follows the rules, which makes for a very respectful and courteous populace.

The last aspect of life in Singapore that I want to share with you is the food, because the food here is to die for.

The best food can be found at Hawker centres, which are like outdoor food courts with dozens of stalls selling different types of food. Singapore, like Canada, comprises a wide range of ethnic groups, and this fact is evident if you step foot into any food court.  You’ve got your Chinese food (divided by region), traditional Malaysian and Singaporean, Indonesian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Western in case you’re craving some good ol’ pasta or a burger and fries.  And everything is deliciously cooked to perfection.

Meals are the best parts of the day.
The food in Singapore is varied and DELICIOUS.

In fact, Singaporeans love to eat so much (and I’ll be honest with you, meals are probably the best parts of my day as well) that here, there are actually four main meals in a day:  breakfast, lunch, dinner, and supper.  Supper (which needs to be implemented back home ASAP) is eaten any time from about 10pm to 2 or 3am.

And there you have it!  A (very) short introduction to Singapore.  I hope I’ve piqued your interest, and that you continue to follow my blog throughout the year.

Until next week!


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