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Singapore - Your portal to Southeast Asia and beyond

Published by Elie Matta — 9 years ago

0 Tags: Erasmus experiences Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

This experience review has been written by Simon Schwall and myself. We are both 3rd year HEC Paris students as well as members of the CEMS exchange program.

Why NUS and Singapore?

* First-class education
Singapore is at the forefront of economic and social development, not only in Asia but globally. NUS, the national university, offers unmatched exposure and learning through a completely new business faculty (less than 2 year old building and facilities) and via extremely qualified staff (for example the macroeconomics professor is Singapore’s Chief Economist).
NUS Business School places a high emphasis on entrepreneurship with some very interesting and practical classes being taught at the MBA level. We have had the chance to experience these classes (Technopreneurship, Technology Transfer and Commercialization) and these were very interesting both by the guest speakers (entrepreneurs, visiting professors from Silicon Valley, VCs and angel investors…) but also by the final projects which were presented to a board of potential investors. These classes are a must if you are visiting NUS since the quality of the students there is also very impressive (double degree engineers from MIT, for example, were part of these classes).
English is widely spoken on campus, but you will also have a chance to learn Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and countless other languages spoken by the diverse student population.
Wireless internet service is available everywhere on campus.

* A safe, exciting and multicultural city
Taking a class in an Asian language, exploring Singapore's bustling nightlife (rooftop bars, nightclubs, live music…), catching a 3 a.m. meal at one of the legendary food centers, those are some of the interesting aspects of living in Singapore.
Singapore is an easy city to live in, bureaucracy is kept to a minimum and the size of the country makes it easy to move around to meet up friends for activities. Some of the biggest attractions are cultural ones and food has a special place in Singaporean culture because of the mix of ethnicities and as such is one of the most exciting aspects of the local experience.
There are many on-campus activities as well. You can take part in some of the wide variety of campus sports.

* Singapore is your Gateway to Southeast Asia
From Singapore, most regional destinations are only a couple hours’ flight away. In fact, traveling to many of the beautiful islands of Malaysia makes the perfect weekend trip.
Many adventurous students travel to the ruins of Angkor Wat, explore the beauty of Ha Long Bay and go party under the full moon at Koh Phangan in Thailand. From Singapore, Asia is yours to discover.

Life in Singapore (Written by Simon Schwall - 3rd year HEC student)

During your stay in Singapore, you will not only experience Singaporean culture but a blend of all Asian cultures be it in gastronomy, festivals, languages, traditions and much more.
Singapore is more expensive than other Southeast Asian cities, relatively safer, and very straightforward when it comes to transportation or any other day-to-day issue.
Below we will expose some of the most important aspects you need to be aware of before leaving there and after you arrive.

* Transport
Once you land in Singapore, you have two options for transportation, the MRT (the subway) or a taxi.
The taxis all speak English (some of them better than others), be sure to have your address with you. The taxi fare will vary depending on time of day. There will be an “airport surcharge” of 3SGD. If you take the taxi at rush hour (8-10 am and 5-7pm) there is a meter surcharge of 35% and if you take it after midnight there is a meter surcharge of 50%.
Generally, taxis are quite cheap compared to Europe, average taxi ride is 10-15SGD (c.7-8EUR) for very decent distances (15min ride), but again it depends on the time of day and your destination
Finally it is important to note that Singapore and Hong Kong are the only places where the taxis are regulated and as such you do not need to bargain or negotiate. The fare on the meter is clearly displayed and it is illegal for cabs to overcharge or tout.
For the MRT, you can only take the green line from the airport and you might have to change lines or switch to bus depending on your end destination. Be sure to prepare this ahead of time.
Public transport is easy and super efficient (buses and MRT). NUS Business school is served by many buses but no MRT - bus 183, 10, 200...
Tip: best website to get around is you can prepare all your journeys in advance. It has proven quite helpful for a lot of us.

* Eat and drink
One of the best things in Singapore is Food and Drinks. You will find a huge variety of food: Indian, Malay, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, “Western”…
Food Courts: most of Singaporeans don’t cook, but eat at the food court. Different stalls offer a huge variety of Asian specialties. Once you buy your meal, you meet with your friends at one of the common tables. Very cheap and convenient. On the Campus, food courts are very good and very cheap.
Restaurants: you will also find a lot of restaurants, offering all kind of food. The prices are then more similar to what you can find in Europe, especially if you are in the nightlife district (Clarke Quay). Very good and cheap Indian food can be found in Little India.
Fast Food: Usual fast food can be found all over Singapore (and even on the campus) : KFC, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, … Most of these brands also offer home delivery, which can be useful since housing can be far from restaurants. 24/7 service is also available most of the time! You will also find some local fast food chains, like MOS burger and its famous “Rice Burger”
Drinks: Drinks are usually purchased at a specific stall. A large choice of ice teas and iced coffees is usually offered, along with the delicious Milo (a malted chocolate milk). Vending machines offer everywhere very special kinds of drinks, such as Aloe Vera drinks and herbal teas. Most of them are very good. Alcohol is very expensive compared to the rest of the food and beverage. Some local beers are very refreshing, like the Tiger beer.

* Travel around
We cannot discuss here all the different destinations that you can visit. If you like backpacking, you will be in heaven! The best thing to do is to visit to know about all the possible weekend trips around Singapore.
Many low cost airlines operate from Changi Airport: Tiger Airways, Air Asia, Jetstar, Cebu Pacific, Zest, … Register to their Newsletter to be informed of the discounts! You can also travel to Malaysia by bus. It is fast and very (very!) comfortable.
In Singapore itself, a lot of natural reserve and parks make it possible to relax. The beachfront is not really “scenic” but you can enjoy cool barbecues there, and even try some cable-wakeboarding.

* Clubbing and pubbing
Most of the nightlife is gathered in the city center, mostly around Clarke Quay (pronounced Klah Key). Parties are organized in nightclubs by Student’s unions and Expats. Register to the related Facebook groups to be aware of what’s going on. Best nightclubs are Attica, New Asia Bar, Stereo Lounge and Zouk.
You can also party in Sentosa, a Singaporean island dedicated to entertainment. A few clubs are to be found there, like the WaveHouse (where you can surf an artificial wave during your night), or Azura for very nice beach parties. In December, “Zoukout” festival is held on Sentosa with this year David Guetta and Tiesto playing.
2 casinos are also available if you enjoy gambling. The most recent one, Marina Bay Sands, is impressive!

* Shopping
Shopping is the favorite activity of Singaporeans. There are hundreds of Malls all over Singapore. The main shopping avenue, “Orchard Road” is full of them, and of luxury brands. Prices are a bit lower than in Europe, but higher than in the rest of Asia. Still, you can find good deals, especially for Hi Tech goods at the Funan Mall, and all kind of goods (really anything you want) at Mustafa Center (open 24/7)

* Cultural activities
Singapore is trying to develop its cultural life. The numerous museums are very nice (Asian Civilization Museum, Singaporean Art Museum, National Museum of Singapore…). But still, there is no exceptional exhibition, and Singaporeans are not very interested in arts.
It’s quite the same for live music. A few bars, held by Europeans, offer live music ( but apart from this, there is not much going on from a musical point of view. The only place for a kind of “underground culture” is the Substation ( but again, it is nothing comparable to European cultural life.
You can check TimeOut to know more about the cultural activities in Singapore : you can buy tickets online on Sistic:

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