The Lion Sleeps TonightI present to you another installment of Adventures in Asia, bigger and better.
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A Love Letter to IndonesiaAs my mother pointedly reminded me, I’ve gone about a month without blogging, so here’s my attempt at attaching words to the last four weeks.
To begin relaying my recent past in SE Asia, let’s begin with a short geography lesson. Singapore is on the southernmost tip of peninsular Malaysia. This particular location happens to be right smack dab in the middle of SE Asia. Translation: almost every location in the region is accessible within a two hour flight, and with the prevalence of budget airlines, fares are cheap. Go anywhere, any weekend.
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FoodLiving in another country presents an entire catalogue of differences in day to day life, but contestably the most noticable is the diet. Here, friends and family, is an entire post dedicated to just food.
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September 3, 2015 - Kuala LumpurThe exchange students of Singapore underwent a life altering event last Thursday: the acquisition of the “student pass”. Simply put, we are now allowed to travel outside of Singapore! To honor the milestone, this past weekend some friends and I ventured to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s largest city.
A chronological briefing of the weekend….
Friday – Arrive, check into hostel, get acquainted with the area, get a nice serenade from a Portuguese travelling band. Saturday – Visit Batu caves (including an informative “dark caves” tour), get attacked by monkey, eat sushi, eat again in China town. Sunday – head to and hike up waterfalls just out of town, go up to 88th floor of Petronas towers.
The weekend was very much an “in and out” experience, but enjoyable nonetheless. While in KL, we witnessed the Bersih political rally, which I would encourage you to research on your own. Also, returning to Singapore from Malaysia solidified the feeling of this city as a permanent residence rather than simply a vacation destination.
The top level of a series of cascading waterfalls. Our little clique was able to grab some nature solstice here for a couple of hours.
The view of one Petrona tower, as seen from the other. The Petronas towers are a staggering 452 meters high and were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004.
Batu caves: another example of water doing cool stuff.
August 24, 2015 - Ball So Hard“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” -Maya Angelou
Today I enrolled in Table Tennis. In Singapore. In the middle of Asia. That’s all I have to say about that.
Because everyone loves pictures, here’s a few photos displaying campus life here at Nanyang Technological University.
The middle of “North Spine”, which houses most of the engineering courses.
My dorm block. You may be interested to know that Joo Eun and I have only used 3 hours of AC since we arrived. Impressive, I know.
I can’t claim this photo’s copyright, but Lucas snapped this monkey’s candid on campus the other day. Monkeys and I live in the same place, it’s bananas! (Ha. Ha.)
August 18, 2015Interim Singaporean
I’ve now reached the point in any transitory period where all of the major adjustments have been completed: keep to the left, order unrecognizable cuisine, sweat constantly. The next installment of #Singapore15 is growing accustomed to the more obscure interjected differences such as slightly mis-conjugated English and differences in shoe styles (It’s a thing, I swear it!). While I’ve been here for almost two weeks, I still do not feel like I have the accolades to assign opinions to the region itself. Singapore is a complex and incredibly diverse city and at this point, I am a waterbug skimming the surface. Nonetheless, I can still regurgitate my AMAZING experiences thus far and inspire a little bit of jealousy in my American counterparts. Let’s go :)
As I mentioned in a previous post, two weekends ago was SG50, a celebration of Singapore’s independence from Malaysia 50 years ago. In recognition of the half centennial, Singapore held events for weeks leading up to the day that concluded with a flyover and fireworks show over Marina Bay, the city’s most famed area. As a visitor, I was able to observe a new flavor of patriotism, and doing so was an actually very eye opening. As a home-grown American, the only national celebrations I’ve been a witness to were, not-surprisingly, American. Seeing that same mentality projected onto a different nation displayed how eager humans are in general to be a part of something bigger, and the pride associated with being a Holon in that sense. The crowds were stifling, but the experience as a whole was worth it. (My apologies for the bad aesthetic quality of the pictures below, but I want to show the volume of people!)
This past weekend, I joined a couple of friends on a day excursion to one of Singapore’s many small surrounding islands, St. John’s Island. It was a relaxing beach day complete with fresh coconut and sidewalks teeming with island cats. Why the whole world doesn’t feel the need to vacation here, I can’t quite grasp. I won’t argue though, as the lack of tourists was a welcome absence.
August 7, 2015Jet Lag Conquered
I’ve now been a resident for just over two full days, and I have discovered one absolute about my time in Singapore: everyday will be a bad hair day. Right now Singapore is in the midst of their “monsoon season” so rain is common, and when the moisture isn’t precipitating, it is hanging out in the air causing humidity upwards of 80%. So my hair has given up, and I have given up on it.
Hair issues aside, I love this place, more each day. I’ve finally settled into the small dorm room that I share with a communications major from Korea. She’s sweet and good-natured but most importantly she loves to sleep in (aka she is my soul sister). For the most part, these last couple of days have consisted of exploring campus and getting my bearings on the city. Singapore has quite a few public transport muscles to flex, so navigating the area is relatively straight forward and affordable.
This weekend is the 50th independence anniversary here. Translation: Singapore is going all out. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures that accurately display the insanity that is “SG 50”. Speaking of pictures, I’ll leave you with a picture of the ADM building, NTU’s most famous building.
August 4, 2015Day Zero
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” -Anita Desai
Today marks my first day as an independent international traveler. I’m currently sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting to take off on the first leg of a 26 hour airplane journey terminating in Singapore, my substitute home for the next four months. Rather than trying to sort the gallimaufry of this experience unaided, let’s get back to the basics with some fourth grade essay writing questions: who, what, when, where, and why?
Who: My name is Elizabeth (more commonly called “Liz”) and I’m a 22 year old mechanical engineering student originating in the corn fed, cattle trod state of Nebraska, a great place to grow up. To attend college at UNL, I moved about two hours away from my hometown of approximately 25k and since that first day of freshman year, I’ve completed 8 semesters of undergrad engineering courses, travelled to Madagascar and traipsed around Europe, and interned in Las Vegas.
What: This semester I will study at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
When: NTU’s semester begins in early August (next Monday actually) and lasts into early December. The following travels are projected to continue into early/mid spring semester.
Where: Singapore, Southeast Asia (tbd), Panama, and multiple US regions.
Why: Ah, “why” the most involved of the five Ws. The question why can easily be parsed into two interconnected subquestions: “Why study abroad?” and “Why Singapore?” So, why study abroad? This question can be answered with a multitude of canned yet undeniably true spitfire answers. Meet people, see places, experience different cultures. And really why not? But studying abroad, or world travel in general, goes beyond that. Philosopher Ken Wilber muses on the ability of humankind to transcend and envelope, a sort of asymmetrical ebb and flow. In his opinion, throughout history, humans have been reaching off into the abyss and pulling down just enough to elevate themselves to the next level. While Wilber’s logic is intended to be primarily multigenerational, I think it can be adapted to one person, one lifetime. By extending ourselves just enough to leave comfort behind, we augment our personal repertoire and see the world from a position of higher clarity. Let’s face it, we all interpret external stimuli based on our experiences and prior knowledge and as such, each of us has a skewed perception of reality. Getting out and plugging coins into our experience banks nudges us ever so slightly into a more accurate world view.
In summary, I’m studying abroad to see stuff and be better.
So why Singapore? I address this question in a few different ways. I tend to launch into the logistical benefits of Singapore: great university, credit availability, lack of a language barrier, etc. Or point out the draws of Singapore itself: sustainability, navigability, architecture, and diversity. Finally, I’ll tell you that Singapore is a digestible way to experience Asia. Plus the food is astounding (or so I’ve been told….stay tuned) All in all, Singapore is a remarkable place, and perfect for an engineering student.
Throughout the semester, I will be updating the blog with information and pictures (although I cannot guarantee with what frequency) Feel free to also follow my adventure on Instagram (LizTheSchmidt) and Facebook.
And of course, if anyone finds themselves in the region, I’d love for you to meet me out east.