"Why are you going to Singapore?"
This was the typical response when I told people I was studying abroad in Southeast Asia. Once these people googled Singapore, they read about its tropical weather, upscale shopping and strict government. While these qualities are certainly a core component of Singaporean culture, they haven't been the defining elements of my Singapore experience.
My Singapore isn't the expensive shops and restaurants on Orchard Road or the beaches lining Sentosa Island. My Singapore is the daily $2.30 lemon chicken rice and $1.40 iced green tea from Canteen 16. My Singapore is the sweat that trickled down my back after walking a mere five minutes in the extreme heat and humidity. It's the lizards that crawl all over my dorm room walls and the bouncers at Attica who give me too many free drinks. It's staying up till 2 in the morning every Tuesday on the computer watching Glee and skyping with family and friends. It's the weekly four-hour-long group meetings followed by two-hour-long dinner meetings. It's the constant stares from Asian men on MRT rides, the local food from hawker stands and the numerous Sunday afternoons spent at the campus pool with fellow exchange students.
I expected to have amazing experiences while studying abroad. The snorkeling in Thailand, sandsurfing in Vietnam, shopping in Hong Kong and temple exploring in Bali were all part of my plan. Regardless of the fact that I've lived abroad and travelled quite a bit before, I knew this experience be life-changing. But I didn't expect to discover my passions. I'd always been so jealous of musical theatre majors because they seem so madly in love with their careers. Being here has made me realize that traveling has been my passion all along.
I've never lived in the same place for more than five years and I like it that way. There are (arguably) 195 countries in the world and I've got approximately another 70 years to see them. Whoever said ignorance is bliss obviously didn't read any Lonely Planet travel guides. Living abroad again has reignited my love for meeting new people and exploring new places. Especially those with nice weather.
Being here has made me realize how precious life is and that it is meant to be enjoyed. I have been so simply HAPPY these past five months. I have a few wonderful friends, beautiful weather and delicious food. I'm eternally grateful for my parents who encourage and support me in everything I do. I couldn't be more blessed.
Initially, the idea of going back home made me depressed. But I realized that I only have two precious years left of college and they are something I will never get back. Asia will always be here waiting for me. So Asia, you have two years to recover from Hurricane KaraKona before I come back in full force for good. Consider yourself warned.
|My view every day at 6:30 PM|
|Daily dim sum meal|
|My fellow Hall 3-ers - Hall Olympic Champions!|
|Typical 20-minute thunderstorm. Oh, Singapore.|
|NTU, home of the Fighting Dumplings|
|Addicted to green tea. The first of many adjustment-back-to-USA problems.|