Guest Post By: Hallie Chen, a Sophomore studying Accounting. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient, and she studied abroad through Foster Exchange at the National University of Singapore.
The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit system) is Singapore’s subway system. It consists of 7 different lines that took me almost anywhere I needed to go in Singapore. This means that I didn’t need a car or bike throughout my four months living there. Instead, I traveled by BMW–bus, MRT, and walking.
But still–it’s a public transportation system. Is it really cool enough to make a Top 3 List? For me, it is. I truly felt that the MRT was an integral part of Singaporean culture. For example, Singapore is so small that people normally refer to destinations by which station of the MRT it’s closest to. When people ask me where I live, I just have to say Holland Village MRT for them to understand exactly where on the island I’m located. When meeting up with friends, we also meet at MRT stations before walking over to final destinations. It’s very common to receive texts such as “Wanna grab lunch at this great Korean place I know? I’ll meet you at Kent Ridge MRT at 5:00 pm!” Each MRT station has a slightly different personality, and there is always something to do at each one. This, paired along with the fact that it was fast and cheap to travel on, meant that I was able to explore a big chunk of Singapore throughout my time there.
- Hawker centers
Hawker centers are the cheapest and yummiest places to get food in Singapore. Imagine a warehouse filled with dozens of food stalls that sell everything from Hainanese chicken rice to Chinese beef hor fun, and from Malaysian nasi lemak (fried chicken and coconut rice) to Indian teh tarik (tea that’s repeatedly poured back between two cups to form a frothy texture). Since each dish is around five Singaporean dollars (about four USD), it was oftentimes cheaper for me to eat at a hawker center than to cook. That, along with the fact that I lived just a couple minutes walk from three different hawker centers, meant that I got to try something new every day. Unfortunately, there is no air conditioning, so it does get a little sweaty with Singapore’s humidity. But I considered it part of the experience and happily ate my hawker center food whenever I got the chance.
- The people
While I was there for only four months, I made some of the closest friends I’ve ever had in Singapore. Most of these friends I met at Shalom Reformed Baptist church, where I fellowshipped during my exchange. We spent sweltering afternoons playing spikeball on the lawns of the National University of Singapore (NUS), restful Sundays attending both the English and Chinese services at church, and countless hours doing life together and encouraging one another in Christ. I also joined NUS’ Regenerate student fellowship, which has the most talented piano and squash players in all of Singapore. I am incredibly blessed to have met such strong and hospitable brothers and sisters in Singapore–they truly made a foreign country feel like home.