Life as an Exchange Student in Asia

Hello again from Singapore! After the initial month of being in here I have started to settle into a routine. I have come to enjoy my temporary home country a lot! I have learned a lot about the way people live here and their culture!

I left off my last post with the comment that I would be going to an exotic Island in Malaysia for a long weekend. The name of the Island is Palau Kapas and it is located in the North East of Malaysia.

It was a long trip to get there (eight hours of a bus ride and stops at the Malaysia/Singapore border). But it was definitely worth it! I was there with a group of 40 exchange students for three days. It was plenty of time to enjoy the island and its activities.

The beach was amazing, the water was warm, which is a huge difference from the must-wear-a-wetsuit water of San Diego. While snorkeling you could see plenty of coral reefs and even sea cucumbers just laying around! In order to go to the nicer snorkeling area we had to hike through the middle of the island which was all jungle.

Overall the trip was nice! I got to meet people from all over the world and relax for a whole weekend. Also the trip was incredibly cheap for what it was. Malaysia is off my checklist this year!

After that trip I went back to campus to relax and enjoy the cheap food. The next week was the GEM Trailblazer fare, the study abroad fare here at Nanyang Technological University. I got to participate to represent SDSU with other students coming from the United States (thanks SDSU for sending the pamphlets and pens; it was very helpful!). It was a fun experience and I got to meet the head of the GEM Trailblazer student council. She previously studied abroad in Michigan and came with us to help encourage students to study abroad in the United States.

I have also been helping the campus residence halls make a garden over the weekends. It is very tiring to wake up so early on a weekend but it has been a very rewarding experience and hope to leave a nice imprint on NTU after I am gone! I will be sure to upload the finished garden once we are done. In the meantime here is us placing the last brick on the gardening box we built!

Singapore has proven to be a very interesting place, but nothing beats the day I came back from class and was meet with a wild visitor from the jungle!

NTU is situated right next to a small jungle where plenty of critters live. It was only a matter of time before one of them came over to visit us! This baby monkey climbed all around my residence hall! It was really funny because pest control tried to lure the monkey out of the halls with a banana but it just ended up grabbing the banana and coming back to the halls. It stayed with us for about three days. I think animal control eventually came to take it away.

The weekend after the monkey incident I contacted the head of the GEM Trailblazer Student Council and she agreed to take us on a tour around Singapore! It was great hearing about Singapore from a Singaporean who had been to the United States. It gave me a lot of insight as to how Singapore is organized and how the people feel about it.

I also ended up trying the flagship fruit of Singapore: the durian. It is also nicknamed the “KING OF FRUITS.” It definitely deserves the name! Durian is infamous for being a food you either you love or hate. Luckily for me I ended up loving it! Can’t say the same for the other exchange students though! Here is a video of me trying Durian for the first time with a girl from Wisconsin and a guy from the Czech Republic.

I hope you had a lot of fun reading this blog! Next up in my list is going to Thailand for recess week, and hopefully experiencing more Singapore wackiness!

Until next time, see ya!

Martin Ahumada Padilla is a mechanical engineering senior. He is studying abroad at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore for an entire academic year.

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