So semester 1 has come to a close and I’ve got about 7 weeks of stuff to blog about (albeit a lot of that was just filled with work). Things got a little stressful towards the end, so I’m glad to be past all my deadlines now. I was lucky and managed to avoid any actual exams this semester. I had two research papers and two take-home exams. I won’t tell you too much about that, nothing exciting, just a fair bit of stress and lots and lots of reading and writing. I spent lots of my time avoiding work with this hilarious tumblr blog written by a few American exchangers in Singapore (http://whatshouldasiacallme.tumblr.com). In other news…
I Joined a Running Club
I tried out the NUS cross-country club at the start of the semester but quickly found that it wasn’t my cup of tea. A friend of mine recommended a club she started at in the city called the Newton Group. It took me a while to get along to their training but I’m so glad that I did. The members of the Newton Group are mostly locals, so this was a great opportunity to meet some Singaporeans and learn more about the country. They’re all really lovely people, really willing to give advice and running tips. On top of that, they’re all very, very experienced and talented runners!
If anyone reading is heading to Singapore on exchange I would definitely recommend the Newton Group. One of the first runs I did with them was around the Singaporean Grand Prix race track, which was pretty awesome. Other than that, we do circuit training on Tuesdays at a running track, fast runs on Wednesdays around the centre of town (Marina Bay area) and long runs on Sundays at East Coast Park.
Some of my friends in the group actually managed to convince me to run a 32km a week after joining, having done no real training and having only ever run 21km before. It was an absolutely insane thing to agree to, but the group have a real talent in motivating you to do things that you really shouldn’t be able to do! That’s what you want out of a running group; people telling you to smash out another mile, to run a little faster and to get off the couch and into town for training.
The 32km was fantastic. Really tough towards the end but I’m really glad I did it. I’m planning to sign up for my first marathon in Singapore in March next year.
I Survived a Zombie Apocalypse
I signed up for a 5km zombie run on Sentosa island around Halloween time. It was pretty awesome! Basically tonnes of people dress up as zombies and chase you around a 5km circuit along the beach at Sentosa. You have two life tags you attach to your running shorts and to survive you have to finish with at least one of your tags left. My friend and I both survived the apocalypse although we had a few close calls.
It was really fun, and it was the first time I got to Sentosa. It’s a strange place. It’s a holiday resort island but a lot of it is artificial. I think the whole island is reclaimed land and the beach is made up of imported sand, fake rocks etc…very strange!
I Cycled at Ubin
There’s a little Singaporean island off the east coast called Pulau Ubin. You can get there from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal for a few dollars. It’s a really quick and easy day away. My friends and I decided to go for a day during e-learning week (no classes) to do some cycling. When you hop off at the island there are stalls and stalls of bikes to rent for just a few dollars a day. We went for the newest looking bikes as I’d heard some horror stories from friends who had bikes fail them once they’d got to the other side of the island…then they had to carry the thing back, not fun.
The island was amazing! It’s great for a quick wilderness escape. I’d watch out for the mosquitoes though, we all ended up itching for a good few weeks after this. There are some really awesome spots around the island. I’d definitely recommend taking an entire day to see the whole thing.
I Said some Goodbyes
Being a British exchanger in Singapore has an unexpected consequence. Apparently the UK is pretty much the only country that sends its students on year long exchanges. At least in the law school, every other person only stays for a semester. That means having to say goodbye to some really fantastic friends. It also means getting to meet twice the amount of people though.
So in the last week of term a group of us went out for a farewell dinner to The Canopy in Bishan park II. This is the coolest restaurant I’ve been to in Singapore so far. It has an incredible atmosphere and some really great food! Being a vegetarian, I was pretty happy to find an entire veggie menu alongside the normal one.
I spent my last evening in Singapore with a few friends at the Settlers cafe. This was a really cool place. Its gimmick was that it had hundreds and hundreds of board games all lined up on their walls and all available for their customers to play. We had a pretty awesome time playing (amongst other things) a game called “true colours” for about 3 hours which calls on you to find out how well you really know your friends. This was a pretty cool way to round off the semester.
I Had a Dramatic Airport Moment
I had organised to meet my friends for brunch before heading to the airport. One of my friends (who is almost always early and who would never have missed out on our last brunch) for some reason didn’t turn up and seemed to dropped off the face of the earth for the morning.
We texted and called and knocked on her door, but to no avail. So I ended up having to head to the airport, although I expected some grand story later about what happened to her. It took me a few hours to get sorted and to the airport, then I took my time having lunch and wandering around before I settled down to some wifi. When I finally flicked my laptop open I was bombarded with emails and facebook messages from my friend saying that she was at the airport.
Turns out she had tried to stay up all night so as not to miss our brunch…but failed. The drama occurred in our attempt to say our goodbyes. I had gone past two security checkpoints and so had to go and ask if I could go through in reverse. I was given an unequivocal no and a lecture on why you can’t just wander through airports as and when you please…
Feeling rather dejected I went back to my laptop and told my friend I wasn’t being allowed through. She told me she was right at the checkpoint (on the other side) so I decided to go back and try again. We could see each other through the glass and so I decided to over-dramatise my story to someone else at the security counter. Thankfully this one had a bit of a heart and escorted me back through for a quick goodbye.
We felt pretty awesome having worked our way around the Singaporean bureaucracy and getting to say our goodbyes! As stressful as it was at the time, this ended up being a pretty awesome and memorable way to end my first semester!
So the flight I was getting wasn’t actually taking me home for Christmas…I flew to Melbourne and have been visiting some family here in Oz. I have 3 weeks touring Australia in total before I had back to the UK for Christmas. I’ll blog about that soon but for now I’m off to enjoy my first lazy day in a long time (TV, tea, blankets, New Girl and movies)…Feeling awesome.