Singapore is an incredible city-state-island-pretty much whatever other adjective that exists for land. It’s like a super green Tomorrowland (cue childhood memories), with abundant vegetation surrounding modern skyscrapers and futuristic technology. No wonder they call it part of a new breed of “Smart Cities”. From the ultra-sleek metro system (the MRT) to the multitude of malls which not only have traditional stores, but hospitals, cinemas, concert halls, gyms, etc. And of course, the symbol of Singapore’s innovation takes its form in the “Gardens by the Bay”. I’m sure you’ve heard of the giant trees (aptly named Supertrees) that look as if they came directly from the movie “Avatar” (not the sub-par adaptation of the beloved anime series, the other one, with Zoe Saldana). The most amazing part about these 50-meter structures is the sheer fact that they’re made out of concrete, steel, solar panels, lights, and plants. I recommend you come visit at night if you want the best awe-inspiring experience.
A couple decades ago, Singapore was nowhere at this stage. However, in just a short period of time, they managed to transform themselves into a virtual hub in Southeast Asia. Some even liken it to the New York City of the “Asian Century” (and by “some” I mean the guest lecturer from Toronto last week, who never really explained what the “Asian Century” meant but I’m sure you will find it self-explanatory). In all seriousness, I find it incredibly admirable that the founding father—the first Prime Minister—took on such a difficult agenda (I mean who else can completely restructure and change the direction of a country in a single generation) and managed to victoriously succeed for the good of his people. Now Singapore is on the horizons as a leader in technology and innovation. A lot of Singaporeans really love the previous PM, Lee Kuan Yew, and he’s hailed as a hero in their eyes. Strangely enough, I’ve had most of these history lessons in Grab cars. So, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with your local driver for an interesting look on current politics (please use proper caution though). Overall, Singaporeans are friendly people, and they’re always willing to help foreigners!
The main reason why I wanted to study abroad was to gain global experience for the sake of developing as an individual and business student. In other words, I knew there was more to life than America and Kyrgyzstan. Singapore has definitely been an eye-opening development, because I’ve seen things that I’ve never thought were possible (clean streets?! $5 Michelin Star food??!!) and it’s changed my perception of the future. NTU, especially, will make you think more about the role of technology as a key component of human civilization in the time ahead. This may sound over-dramatic, but it’s hard not to look at things this way when there are frequent tech fests on campus that showcase cutting-edge inventions straight from Tony Stark. Yes, I was that cliché “broaden my horizons” study abroad applicant. And you should be too (just look at that glowing Supertree)!