In my last post, I described how my evening at Clarke Quay was so surreal that I will always keep the memories with me, even after I go back to Philadelphia. It was so amazing, that feeling! However, I forgot to mention an incident that happened while we were returning to the campus and I feel it’s really worth mentioning.
So, as we got out of the bar, I realized it was already very late. I decided to call it night, fistbumped everyone and split from the group to return to the campus. Up until that point, it never even crossed my mind to check the timings of the public transport in Singapore. It turned out that the MRT (Singapore’s Septa) stations close at 11:59 PM everyday and now I was stuck in the middle of the city. I had two options- to either take an Uber for 30 bucks or to wait there till 5:30 in the morning when the stations open again. To take the right decision, I needed to eat something first so I went to sit inside a 24 x 7 Burger King, had a burger and used their free WiFi to find more options.
To my rescue, the ministry of public transport runs a few buses called the ‘Midnight Owls’ till 2 AM during the weekends. I got on the bus, doors of the bus shut and I gave a 100 dollar note to the bus driver. The driver looked at me with such expression and probably with the same thought as yours right now but trust me, I was absolutely out of change in my wallet. I was careless! Remember, you can’t walk around the streets of a totally foreign country with that careless attitude! Learn from my experience! Be aware! So, I had no change and the bus drivers do not give back any change as a rule. To make the situation worse, I couldn’t get off the bus now as the bright lights and the crowd was way past me now and even in the safest city in the world, you can’t act like a daredevil at night. Just when you’re thinking- “You could have tried to explain the situation to the driver, maybe he would have let you have a free ride”, let me tell you that the driver didn’t even let me complete my sentence and do you know why? He didn’t understand English. He started shouting at me and I was not at all prepared for that. Watching me fail to explain anything to him, a girl got up from her seat and came to talk to me about the problem. I told her how I was an exchange student and new to Singapore. She tried her best to explain to the driver in Mandarin but the driver told her that it was not in his hands as there were cameras in the bus and the laws in Singapore are too strict. At last, the girl took out four dollars from her purse and gave it to the driver on my behalf. I thanked her as genuinely as I could and asked for her name. She replied saying she did not have an English name. I had a little laugh on it and then requested her to add me on Facebook so we may meet again and I could return her favor. We added each other on Facebook and then talked to each other about Singapore till her stop came. She became the first local friend I made in Singapore and imagine, she was not even from the same university. Talking about now, I text her questions regarding anything in Singapore and she gives the best advises possible. We’ll be going out for lunch as well along with a group of friends.
I thought it to be a really sweet gesture. That helping nature was the first impression of the Singaporean people upon me. Now that I have been here for quite some time, the impression still remains the same. Everybody here lives in harmony, people trust each other, the rules are strict and everyone respects the laws. The people usually mind their own work instead of locking horns with each other based on petty issues; however, they run to help each other in case of emergencies. This is the reason that this nation has developed so fast and the universities have progressed so well even at such young age. The motto of the nation is “Majulah Singapura” which is Malay for ‘Onwards Singapore’ and stands for the progress, development and advancement of Singapore on a global level. One girl out of a population of millions helped me that night and the result is that I will have only great words to spread about the people of the whole country when and wherever I will go. This makes so much sense about how we should treat the tourists in our own counties! Think about it! I will be back with another post. Till then, go decide where you want to go for your study abroad and complete the application. 🙂