After my semester abroad at JCU, I’ve been back in good old Germany for a month now. Time enough to let the experiences of the last few months sink in and to write you a hopefully not too long but meaningful review. Much of it won’t sound so positive, but I can still say that I had an absolutely great time in Singapore that I wouldn’t want to trade for a time in any other country in the world. However, the purpose of my report is not to gloss over the whole thing, but hopefully to give new students at JCU one or two tips for things that I would not have expected in Singapore.
Right from the start I can say: Singapore is a breathtaking city that you either learn to hate or learn to love. The population consists of tens of different nations, the majority of which are Chinese, Indians and Malaysians. English has its own accent (Singlish) and is shaped by Chinese. Although English is the official language, it is not a matter of course that you will be understood everywhere with it, and thus entertaining situations often arise. I got to know Singapore as the European / Australian part of Asia compared to the surrounding countries. It is clear that a lot is different from Europe. Nevertheless, due to the high standard of living, one does not suffer from a culture shock and integrates very quickly.
Despite the small size of Singapore, there is a lot to do in the city: enjoy the breathtaking skyline with a cocktail, go through the night in funky clubs, wander through the last remaining parts of the jungle or lie on the beach of Sentosa Island. All of this is possible in a city that is smaller than Bremen.
In addition, there are many museums, countless shopping malls that invite you to shop and other outdoor leisure activities, most of which can be found on the easily accessible island of Sentosa.
- Learn more information about Singapore and Asia on plus-size-tips.
Life itself alternates between the hustle and bustle in busy districts and cosiness in areas that are heavily influenced by Chinese. It is precisely here in service areas that you often get caught with the thought: “Couldn’t this go faster now?” – But here too you quickly develop a certain, albeit finite, tolerance.
In general, I could say that I have never got to know such a diverse city. The change of the city areas Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street, Orchard Road, the celebration center Clarke Quay or the Marina Bay Sands – each time you have the feeling of entering a different city. I can say a lot about my semester abroad, but I really couldn’t complain about boredom.
You can get from A to B with the easy-to-use bus and MRT (subway) lines, which are perfectly developed and quite cheap throughout Singapore. Taxis are also cheaper than in Germany, so you can be comfortably driven through the city in groups.
Unfortunately, public transportation is one of the few things that is very affordable in Singapore. Whether groceries in the supermarket, food in restaurants or drinks in the club – you pay a lot more than the German prices. A well-padded budget is therefore highly recommended for the time being.
At first, you hear numerous horror stories about the strict rules and laws in Singapore. Yes, many things are subject to heavy fines. But unless you overdo it, you have absolutely nothing to fear. Very often you accidentally get on a bus with drinks open (forbidden!). Ultimately, nothing was ever said. It looks different, however, if cigarettes or rubbish are carelessly thrown on the street, here it can happen that you can pay a fine to a plainly dressed police officer. For my part, however, I can say that I have never felt impaired by it and could even understand many laws quite well. About this was a positive consequence: no matter when and where you are, you feel safe in Singapore.
Like pretty much everything in Singapore, apartments are extremely expensive. You should plan this in your budget in advance. The price per room is around € 550 per month – and the trend is rising. My recommendation for looking for an apartment: Don’t book anything that you haven’t seen in advance. It happened to fellow students that rent was paid in advance and the Zimmer + company in Singapore didn’t even exist. There are also many inexpensive options on booking.com to look for temporary accommodation in hostels or hotels, while you then look around for permanent residence in Singapore. The JCU offers an excellently organized accommodation office for this purpose. If you contact the employees with all the information at an early stage, they offer many good rooms / apartments and are available to help. In addition, it is advisable to organize yourself in shared rooms (if you are planning on your own, the Accommodation Office can also help to find roommates here), otherwise it can get even more expensive very quickly. Great caution is advised with external accommodation providers such as “Kaizerhalls”. I had booked a room with this company, was subject to management rules, had to pay everything in advance, had a very small room and was still fighting to get my deposit back. Such problems can be circumvented with the cooperation of the JCU Accommodation Office.