Hello from my timezone to yours. It is currently morning on this side and I’ve just said good night to my friend in Europe, who was preparing to go back to Dundee after a long summer. Don’t feel too sorry for yourself that it’s coming to an end – my semester started three weeks ago. I’ve been in Singapore at NUS since the end of July, adjusting to life in the hottest climate I’ve ever lived in and exploring this city. It has been a lot of fun and slightly stressful too. Let me take you through some first impressions.
First of all, excuse the obvious weather-related remark but O M G IS IT HOT HERE nothing in life has prepared me for this. The first night in my new room was spent in starfish position right under the fan whizzing at its highest speed wondering if I’d ever sleep again. You get used to it though, kind of – it’s like when you go a festival and accept that your skin will feel like a half-chewed toffee for the next few days, except that now it’s perpetual. I am so entertained when I go to shops here and see puffy down jackets have arrived for the autumn collection. On the other side it is pretty amazing to go outside and never have to worry about being dressed warmly enough. In Scotland I got used to carrying a second outfit around at the beginning of summer should my choice of shorts turn out to be a little optimistic; here I just think of the next cold shower.
Everything is big and far away. Then of course this is coming from somebody who has never lived in a city with a metro. To get from one place to another on campus you take a shuttle bus, to get back home after a night out you take a 30 minute taxi ride instead of my 30-second ‘my arms are going to freeze off’ sprint back to Belmont Tower from the Union last year. It is fabulous, there is so much to explore – whenever you step out of the MRT station there is a whole new world to see, like Chinatown, Little India, Downtown, the beautiful Botanic Gardens. 5 months here will not be enough to capture even half of it!
As a biology student I have respect for Mother Nature and all the cool creatures that we share this planet with. Doesn’t mean they can’t get too close for comfort. There are cockroaches in Singapore. This I discovered when I was standing in the half-a-square-meter shower cubicle and a particularly gigantic specimen was about five inches away from my face, happily waving its antennae. They can fly too, people. God help us all.
Now for a more serious topic: the single most difficult thing about coming here has been finding food that I can eat. I have celiac disease and everything here has wheat or soy sauce in it, even if it looks and seems as if it doesn’t (please tell me why cashew nuts have wheat flour on them). This meant that a lot of my time so far has been devoted to running around trying to find things I could eat. As with everything, you adapt, so by now I’m slowly finding a new normal, but it has not been easy.
As for travel plans, so far I’ve spent a weekend in Malaysia, in beautiful Melaka, about which I’ll write a separate post to do it justice.
Have fun back at uni all you wonderful Dundonians! I hope it is as sunny as ever, and while it’s amazing to be here I’ve never been as excited about the prospect of shrugging back into my winter coat in January!