That date in my calendar, the one that’s been circled a million times, is getting closer, yet it still seems so surreal. I am about to embark on my biggest adventure yet: travelling 7000 miles across the world to Singapore, where I will study law for the next year.
But let me first introduce myself: my name is Eilidh, I’m 19 years old and from the suburbs of Glasgow. I have had an amazing time studying at Edinburgh University over the past 2 years, and I’m devastated to leave my friends, family and flatmates behind, but it’s time to crank the excitement up a notch and take it international.
So why a year abroad, and why Singapore?
I would answer the first question with “well, why NOT?” What a truly unique opportunity it would be to live and study in another country. Imagine all the new people you could meet, a new culture to experience, new foods to try, new places to visit… No doubt it’s going to be daunting at first; in fact, it’s just like starting as a fresher all over again. But this time it’s different: we’re now 2 years older and there’s going to be people to meet from all over the globe.
Why Singapore? Going away on a student exchange for a year is going to be SO different. So why not just make it VERY different? That was my way of thinking anyway… A city as cosmopolitan and exciting as Singapore, right in the heart of southeast Asia, will throw me into a fascinating cultural diversity: Singaporean, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian; against a backdrop of Westernised culture and commerce. This offers a perfect balance between the east and west, particularly for new travellers – like me, since I’ve hardly ventured beyond Europe before!
What are my expectations and hopes for the exchange? The academic benefits of learning from a new perspective speak for themselves. I’m pretty sure that Anti-Terrorism Law and Policy, and the politics of Freedom of Speech around the world are going to be more exciting than trudging through yet another Scottish commercial law statute book! A new found ability to compare and combine Eastern and Western education and business environments will be an invaluable skill to me in the future.
As for “play time” on their sunny little island, the Singaporeans love to eat and shop: 250 malls in Singapore, and every street is crammed with food stalls; all incredibly yummy and incredibly cheap. And the nightlife is not something to be missed: my research reveals that every Wednesday it’s “ladies night” meaning free entry to all the clubs and free drinks for girls!
My big adventure is not just from Edinburgh to Singapore and back again. Singapore is such a great base to travel from: Malaysia is just half an hour away on the bus, at a cost of about $2! Then bargain flights will take you to other close by places: Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines. With a large Christmas break of 2 months, I’m hoping to visit Australia as well.
With the huge culture divide I am about to transcend, the variety of people I am about to meet, and the many many places I am about to travel to, the next year looks like it’s going to full of excitement, spontaneity, and trying things I would never ever get to back in the UK. Yes, it’s scary… in fact, it’s terrifying. But I know that I will return to Edinburgh with new perspectives, new experiences and new memories. This really is going to be a “once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity”…