Changi welcomes you to Singapore with the opulence of a Las Vegas casino and the warm hospitality of the SEAs. This airport is regarded as one of the best in the world, containing multiple gardens, a movie theatre, pool, and even a kinetic rain instalment. I highly encourage you to spend some time to look around. (stereotypical tourist speech over)
The first thing you will notice about this lovely country is its people. On the ride from the airport to the campus, my friendly Grab (SG Uber) driver was more than willing to recommend some nice areas to check out. Along the way, I noticed bright red flags and decorations all over town. Apparently, the auntie (no relation, it’s just common to call the older generation “auntie” or “uncle” in SG) said that I arrived just in time for the country’s Independence Day. The highlight of the celebration would be an awesome firework show at the famous Marina Bay Sands. I couldn’t wait to witness the grand spectacle soon!
After a short respite from the long journey, I was ready to take on the world once more. Immediately, my to-do list demanded me to explore the campus and gain my bearings to the place I would call home for the next half a year. Admittedly, standing in line for 2 hours during the documentation process was not the glamorous experience I had envisioned. Please, please, please don’t make the same mistake I did and make sure you have all of the proper paperwork to get your Student Pass and come to the site earlier to avoid the huge queue (trust me, you’re going to get very familiar with this word in the upcoming months).
The most gruelling tasks complete, it was time to see the sights! – Is what I wish happened. Unfortunately, I forgot to mention the quick little issue of my dorm. The minute I walked in, I thought it might have been abandoned for a few years with all the amount of dust I saw. I conveniently placed this problem at the far end of my mind, because I just wasn’t ready to deal with doing hard labor anytime soon. The reality of the matter came crashing down as I returned and saw my dorm for the second time. The older dorms (Halls 1-16) online don’t look as great as the big modern buildings (Pioneer, Crescent, Tamarind, etc.) but they’re much prettier in person. You just have to watch out for the state of your dorm room. It took me 6 hrs alone to make it look presentable and hygienic.
At the end of the night, I headed out to Marina Bay for the fireworks. Even if you don’t know anyone yet, don’t be afraid to go out independently. More often than not, you will have more freedom to do whatever you want without compromise. The spectacle was simply amazing. Hands-down the best show I’ve ever seen in my life. Plus, the grandeur of MBS strikes you at once. The Bayfront, in general, is a great place to visit first, because all of the important attractions are there (i.e. MBS Shoppes, MBS Hotel with the infamous infinity pool overlooking the city, the Gardens by the Bay, etc.). While I was eating my first chicken rice meal in Singapore (a staple in the cuisine), I coincidentally met my friends from the flight and we went sight-seeing together as a group.
My first day in Singapore ended in a success, with a ton of good memories and new friends! I hope it goes just as well, if not better for you!