It’s been about two months… whoops! Things just started happening here out of no where: my first finance tests, marketing test, group projects, and, of course, the traveling. Breaking it down that way, we can start with the academic rigor of NUS. After taking my first two finance tests, I realize just how much you need to study. Have I learned my lesson? Yes! I am keeping up with reading now, doing more assignments, and asking peers for more help. Also, the students here absolutely thrive in this subject – about 40% of the class got 28/30 points for the test… whoa. Marketing is another story. It’s very interesting here. Students are taught to keep their heads in their books and study until they literally cannot anymore. I spoke to my professor about the differences between Singapore and America and he remarked that it’s a cycle. In order to get into a good college, all they look at are your grades. In order to get a good job, all they look at are your grades. When recruiting, all they want to see are your grades. It means that things like extracurricular’s are irrelevant. It’s all about the number on your transcript. I suppose if I was raised here it would make sense, but it does amaze me that other things aren’t stressed more like they are in America. Be culturally aware if you study abroad. Understand the norms, and try and understand them rather than judge them.
Now on to the thing that I love the most: traveling. IN the past two months I visited the Philippines, Myanmar, and Indonesia. To make it short and sweet I’ll talk about each by itself.
The Philippines is an absolute dream. Not only are the people so resilient after the history they have experienced, but are some of the nicest people I have met. For this trip, we mainly did southern Philippines so Cebu, Bohol, and Manila. Cebu was amazing because I was able to swim with whale sharks and see one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. I then ended Cebu with canyoneering. This is where you jump from cliffs and float down the canyon and slide whenever you can. It was quite an experience and jumping off the waterfall at the end definitely extinguished my fear of heights!
Bohol was also amazing on it’s own. We had our own tour guide where we were able to watch the sunrise at the Chocolate Hills and then proceeded to go see the tarsier sanctuary. These are nocturnal animals, but because we went early enough, we were actually able to see about 5 of them! The beaches were unreal here, and the food… the food. I can’t explain how good Filipino food is. It’s a mix of Spanish and Asian food and man was it a match made in heaven. If you go, eat Chicken Adobo and Pancit. You’ll thank me later, I guarantee it!
Finally, we ended the trip with Manila. One word to describe this place: city. Nothing different from the States. Good people and an amazing museum, but other than that, there wasn’t anything that wowed me.
Next stop was Myanmar. This place has been one of my favorites. The boarders have only recently opened, and that has got to be the best part of this country. There were businesses in the main city of Yangon, but the people were still used to their closed boarder lives. I went with another Spanish girl and a 6’6 friend. Our combination meant pictures at every Pagoda we stopped at. Bagan is where my heart still is. It’s what Myanmar is known for. Over 2,000 Pagados with no building over four stories. The stars are unreal, and the view of the hot air balloons over the scenic route is also incredible. We rented out electric bikes and made our own paths. Met other travelers and man was it amazing. An untouched culture that really puts things in perspective for you.
Finally, Bali happened. There wasn’t anything just amazing or so specific to Bali that blew my mind, but I came back changed. It sounds like some cheesy line from a movie like Eat, Pray, Love, but you come back happier and just more refreshed. In a survey, it was noted that only 12% of Indonesia would put themselves in front of others, and that was completely noticed while there. These people were always trying to find ways of helping us, and always had a smile while doing it. The culture and traditions are still strong regardless of the unbelievable amount of tourists. If you have a chance, go and you’ll feel balanced again upon your return.
So things have definitely been going. Main pieces of advice: traveling is amazing, but it’s more about who you’re with rather than where you go, always be kind to locals, even the one’s who won’t stop selling you things, because they truly are coming from a good place, and understand the expectation of students at your school by engaging with locals. I have learned quite a bit so far, traveled to six different countries and met people from around the world, and these pieces of advice have helped me have an unforgettable experience!
I promise the next post will be sooner than later!