After a lot of uncertainty and minute fears, Radek and I finally met each other and took off towards what could possibly be the best academic year so far. Especially for me, since I’m doing my last year here. The flight was pretty much no-hassle, although as we are students, we got the cheapest possible tickets which included an 8 hour transit wait in Doha. Not ever experienced anything like this, we thought it was a great opportunity to spend quality time together while we waited. While we were right, it seemed that we missed out the fact that we were not alone in the airport, and it was midnight after a long flight. Nevertheless, I didn’t shut my eyes for a moment since I was too excited to get to Singapore. I slept through most of the second flight (Being as tall as I am, sleeping with limited leg space is an achievement).
Coming from Northern Europe, and never experienced Asia before, my body was so confused. Initially getting off for transit in Doha introduced me to the air conditions I could expect- I thought they had some sort heating vent aimed directly at the disembarking passengers (I somehow assumed that was a more reasonable expectation when experiencing a new region). Finally arrived at the Singapore Changi airport. It was probably the best looking airport I’ve ever seen – the decorations and sculptures were as if taken from 20 years ago, a lot of elements were quite reminiscent to the work seen in Soviet states (take this with the grain of salt, as I might have been quite delirious from the 21 hour trip), but yet felt high-tech. we went through the immigration checkpoints, and have gone to meet my welcome buddy who would help us get to our halls.
Having realized I won’t be getting away from the soup-like humid air for a long time, I was a bit relieved seeing they have air-conditioning almost everywhere indoors. To be honest I didn’t do much research about living in here, it pretty much went like this: “Oh it’s this hot eh? I guess I’ll have to deal with it”. Keeping my expectations low was actually a good plan. With Singapore being a modern, cosmopolitan city, I knew I won’t have much trouble getting along, and the little differences we’re just a nice addition that made settling in more interesting. A few things that I have noted before coming, was that Singapore is quite strict with it’s laws (no chewing gum! Also, extremely expensive alcohol, cars, and capital punishment. So that’s that), and that eating is every Singaporean’s favourite past time. Singapore is also a great starting point to travel around south-east Asia, with all the cool places conveniently placed around Singapore. Getting there is also dirt cheap, you could even go abroad cheaper than getting from Southampton to London! (Sorry UK, but Singapore is quite famous for it’s public transport system) Having that in mind, I’ll most definitely use the most of it.
After settling in, we had a free week before the lectures start.
With the halls empty, there isn’t much to do, so we went to town to look around, shop for essentials and of course food hunting! I scoured the internet for places we could get local delicacies, and we were off. Mainly because I wanted to experience “the real deal” and the ridiculously cheap prices, we mostly went to the so-called Hawker centres. They’re these large open spaces with flashy food stalls that serve variety of local foods, with prices ranging from S$2 to S$6. Having never been to Asia before, I was nothing but overwhelmed by the choice at first. After the first week, I started to get the hang of how things work here, some of the dishes’ names, and how to not get disappointed by trying something new. We also get catering in our halls, which is quite nice. Although after a month of having rice everyday, I can’t express how much I miss cheese. I wonder if there’s such a thing as cheese overdose. I should look into that in case I plan to calm the craving. Anyway, I hope my stomach will adapt to the local delicacies that I’ve been enjoying so much. More things to come in my next posts!