Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Happy Easter.

So the fact that Singapore imports a lot can sometimes be problem. Especially if you're like me and are accustomed to some nice cheap (preferably Cadbury's) chocolate. I've seen prices for an ordinary 50p chocolate hovering around the S$1.95 - S$2.75 (96p- £1.36). Crazy prices which kinda meant I started my Lent here early.

I didn't actually do Lent this year mainly because I hadn't had anything to give up. Chocolate etc was already excluded from my diet. But of course there are some traditions I won't give up. That is... Easter eggs. Well that was until I was told that Egg Easter Eggs here are expensive. That hurt. No Easter Egg for me.

Lesson learned: have your parents send you a package of chocolate and Easter Eggs if it really matters to you. :) they won't mind if they miss you enough.

But of course the point of Easter isn't the chocolate egg but rather the message and event that started it all off. If you are Christian, when you get out here you'll probably want a church to go to. If you're Catholic then there are many churches for you to go to and if your methodist you shouldn't struggle to much to find one. Literally google it and you will find something. If you are none of the above the I would suggest City Harvest Church. If you attend NTU there's one in Jurong West. If you go to NUS or SMU then I would say go to the Suntec City venue. For those who will stay in PGP just catch the bus 10 form behind PGP on Pasir Panjang and it'll take you all the way.

It's a nice church, it's quick so you'll still get tonnes of study time. Many people attend and so you can make church friends. It's non-denominational too.

That's what I did and I ended up having a lovely Easter. I hope all of you enjoyed the cheap chocolate. =] Happy belated Easter.

Having Visitors.

It is not a good idea to have visitors at such crucial time in your academic experience, unless you are on a pass/fail system or just don't care much about your performance...

I had my cousin and her friend come only 2 weeks before my first exam well, not actually first exam, I've had a midterm before this. But this is the first one of the exam season.

Having them over was fun though! I took them to Langkawi. We stayed at Langgura Baron in Pentai Cenang which I recommend since it's the best room I've stayed in in South East Asia, so far. 140MYR a night, isn't too bad when you translate it to pound sterling and that's for 4 people to a room. A really good price.

There was a water festival whilst we were there so we missed out on having the quiet beach we were expecting. (if a quiet beach matters to you then don't go to Langkawi around the 15th/16th April).

Minus the beach we went to the biggest Aquarium in Asia - Underwater World Langkawi. I stress that it's the biggest in Asia, that doesn't mean to say it's a significantly big Aquarium, and to be honest, when you can go snorkelling and be with the fish direct, why see them behind a glass window? I guess that's why I didn't think it was so big because in the end... the ocean is bigger.

Back in Singapore I made them walk from Little India to Arab Street, before the rain cut the touring short (but that didn't stop us... we took advantage of one of Singapore's 270-odd shopping malls). I had them walk  the circumference of Marina Bay before seeing the Merlion up-close and then struggle to get to Chinatown where were managed to have a shopkeeper drop his price for a package for my DSLR from S$164 to S$80 without even offering a counter price. No haggling. Just silence. I wasn't even trying to hustle, I was just contemplating whether I should actually by it then and there or not. Another shopkeeper did the same with a wide angle lens $150 to S$50 and I had spent less than 3 minutes in that shop. I do love Chinatown.. just a tad.

Took them to the Night Safari (missed the end show - boo hoo) and discovered Junction 8 (in Bishan) which has the potential to be my new favourite place. But now the cousins are gone and the essays and revision remain top of my task list....

So I guess what I'm really saying is it is not a good idea to have visitors if you have waited until such a crucial time to have your academic experience.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Choosing your university accomodation.

There isn't much choice so the title is just a tad bit deceiving.

NUS put most students in either Prince George's Park (aka PGP) or Commonwealth. Commonwealth is usually reserved for the older of the exchange students whilst PGP normally has those, fresh-in-uni students, although of course there are a few of each kind of student in the opposite halls... if that makes sense?

Chances are, unless you are going to Singapore for a year you won't be put into any of the halls that most local students are at. Bad and Good. 
BAD: you might never make a Singaporean friend.
GOOD: you will make friends from everywhere else in the world!

If like me you are put in PGP (chances are from the reviews you would have heard from other exchange students, it's the only place you applied to) then you will be given a choice between 3 types of room. A, B or C. 
Type A: En-suite + Air-con + fan
Type B: washbasin + a fan + shared toilets/bathroom.
Type C: a fan + shared toilets/bathroom.

Type C

When we were making our decisions, we were told the only feasible place to live in was a Type A room, cos Singapore can get hot and studying in that kind of heat is murder! Not so true. I'm pretty satisfied with my fan, really. And everyone I've spoken to who lives in a Type A has had some sort of problem. Not to say that Types B and C don't get problems, but, the more gadgets in your room, your personal space, the more disrupted your life can get when they start to play up.

I made the decision for the Type A, based on the air-con. Don't do that. Make a decision, based on whether you want to share shower-rooms or not, and when you've decided... just pray all goes well for you tenure out here. You don't want workmen traipsing through your room all the time because the aircon pipe running above your en-suite is leaking and soaking you every time  you go to brush your teeth.

You may laugh at a friend's roof; but do not laugh at his sleeping accommodation - Kenyan proverb