Theresa Doan, Simon Fraser University, winner of the spring 2020 BC Study Abroad Scholarship
Study Abroad Destination: Singapore
When I packed for Singapore, I wasn’t planning on coming back to Canada until mid-June. The original plan was to finish my exchange semester in Singapore and explore Southeast Asia with one of my friends from home, but of course that’s not how this story played out. Instead my exchange ended up being three short, but very sweet months.
If I had any advice for other students going on exchange, I would tell them to go to as many host university exchange events as possible. If host universities are anything like NUS, there will be 3-5 different kinds of events made for exchangers to meet each other. I met so many of my friends this way, and crazily enough, I was a part of this 30 person group chat by the end of the first week. Was I friends with every single one of them? Of course not, but I found my smaller (more manageable) group of friends from this. Be open minded with the friends you make, because you never know how your group of friends can change or grow throughout the course of your exchange. I ended up meeting a whole group of people two weeks before we got sent home and these people became some of my closest friends post-exchange. Even now (over a year since I first arrived in Singapore), I still talk to at least one of my exchange friends every day. These people will forever hold a special place in my heart, and the memories we shared on the other side of the world are what has created this special bond.
With the privilege of hindsight, one of things I am grateful for and what I wish I did more of was explore Singapore - I mean truly explore the nooks and crannies of what Singapore had to offer. My friends and I did the touristy things on the island, sometimes multiple times, but I never got to experience life as a local. There were some days when I would explore the city by myself and find a random coffee shop or wind up in a district of town I’ve never been to, truly taking in the beauty of the city I was in. I wish I got to find more hidden gems and local hot spots, but I am very thankful I made the most out of the months I was there.
I still think about my three months in Singapore and long for nights spent in the Asian heat. People always say, “you can always go back to Singapore, it’ll always be there,” but it’s not only the place that I long for, it’s the people I experienced it with. Never will I find myself in that unique situation ever again, so please, soak in your time on exchange and cherish the memories you make and the people you make them with.