If anyone’s a Jack Johnson fan (LIKE ME!) you’ll know that he occasionally wonders where all the good people have gone (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Yf2BA4sO0). Well I’ve found them…they’re all on exchange!
So I’ve been back in Singapore for about two weeks now and have spent most of my time meeting all the new exchangers arriving for the new semester. I arrived pretty early because one of my friends from last semester was hanging around in Singapore until the 2nd of December. We had a blast celebrating New Years together before she headed off to Jakarta for an internship. I’ve since decided I’ll most definitely be visiting her and touring around Java and Lombok in Indonesia (I’m very excited about this)!
After my friend from last semester left I had a few days where U-Town was absolutely dead. None of the new exchangers had arrived yet and most of the local students had gone home for the holidays. Those few days were pretty tough, I won’t lie. Having just been home for three weeks surrounded by family and close friends, it was pretty tough to avert the homesickness blues. I didn’t have much to distract me so I decided to get out running. I’m still planning on running my first marathon here in Singapore in March, so I’ve got a fair bit of work to do =P.
So the story of this semester really started last Monday when everyone started to arrive. I have lots of cool coincidences to talk about. I almost feel like the exchange Gods felt bad I’d been alone for just under a week, so they decided to reward me. It goes like this…
I had met a random exchanger on facebook who I agreed to meet up with when he arrived and show him around a bit. Now let me stress that this exchanger is 1 of about 2000 who could have lived in about a dozen different residences on campus. Turns out he lives in the flat right next to mine. Weird…The next day I ran into someone on my way to the gym in the morning and he looked pretty lost. I offered to help him, showed him to the bus stop and invited him to dinner. I later found out that he was in the flat opposite mine…but that’s not all…He invited two of his Australian flatmates to dinner with us and one of them is good friends with someone I knew from last semester. As if all that wasn’t enough…one of my best friends from last semester had been telling me about her friends from home and she reckoned I’d get on really well with one of them. Well it turns out that he decided to come to Singapore this semester. We had been introduced online and decided to meet up on his first day here. As I stepped out of my flat to head downstairs and meet him, I heard someone shout ‘IYAN!’ from behind me…and it turns out he’s living in the flat next to mine. I can’t even fathom how small the odds of all this happening must be =P.
So this blog is about good people, and jeez have I met a lot of them this week. I caught up with my parents the other day and every single story I told seemed to go along the lines of; I met so-and-so, they were really nice! So far I’ve managed to meet all my neighbours in the flats around mine. We’ve gone to a few dinners together and we seem to be forming a habit of meeting to play cards. I’ve caught up with a few friends from the law school I met last semester which has been really nice. There’s consensus amongst all us year long exchangers that it really SUCKS that most people will only go on exchange for a semester. It means that a lot of our close friends have up and left us. But the silver lining is that we have another semester to make a whole new group of friends. The friends I’ve met up with in the law school I didn’t see all that much last semester just because of really different timetables. We all seem to have bonded over being the ‘oldies’ though =P.
I also went to a welcome lunch at the law school and met most of the new law exchangers, all of whom were really nice (are you noticing a pattern?). We met up last night and went to a nearby area called Holland Village for dinner. I’ve also been going back to my running club (the Newton Group) quite a lot. I’ve really enjoyed seeing my friends in the group again. They’re mostly Singaporeans and are all really friendly and supportive. And lastly, I finally met my flatmates last night! I’ve had the flat to myself for almost two weeks and then my three flatmates coincidentally arrived on the same day. All three of them have been here a semester already and they’re from a variety of places (England, Norway (but studying in Scotland) and Switzerland). They’re all really easy to get on with and it seems like the flat is going to have a great vibe this semester =). I’m pretty happy because the Norwegian is a runner as well. Not only that but a runner who prefers to run in the mornings! Excellent =P.
Someone asked me yesterday what my favourite thing about exchange is and I said, without hesitation, without a doubt, the people! There’s something about people who travel…They are all vastly different in that they represent all corners of the world, all sorts of professions and interests, habits and personalities…but almost every single one of them has at least one thing in common…a really lovely, easy-going nature. Because of that, they’re just incredibly easy to get along with and accepting of all the sorts of people that they meet. Maybe it’s because exchangers have to be dynamic and willing to go with the flow. Whatever the reason for it is, the people are all fantastic. And you just want to keep meeting more and more and more of them! I always wondered at people I knew back in Edinburgh who whenever we entered a building, turned a corner in the street or walked between lectures seemed to be waving, high fiving, shaking hands with or giving a hug to another one of their massive collection of friends…but I’m becoming one of those people on exchange, and I love it!
Now I don’t want to dishonestly gloss over my bout of homesickness after I arrived. I’m not going to lie, it was really tough. I even had a day where I was on the phone to home, convinced that I’d be calling up Emirates to look for flights back. Yeah, it was that bad! There was no question that I was going to go home for Christmas, but it made coming back really hard. But one of the reasons I wrote this blog was to help show anyone considering an exchange that, no matter how hard it gets (especially at the start), you WILL get over it. My family is really close and I can find being away from them really difficult, but the fact that I could be in such a bad place a week ago and back in exchange bliss a few days later is really a testament to the power of meeting new people. You can dismiss the ‘everyone is going through the same thing as you’ cliche, but it’s so incredibly accurate! So, if experiencing exchange blues, go out and meet some good people =).
Well that’s all for now. Seems, as usual, I’ve rambled for way too long. And I’ve got a lot of pre-reading for next week to get on with today. So, until next time…
Look forward to it Iyan, love reading what your up to. I must say grandad and I had homesickness too, hard as you say, then something happens it feels so much better. So its not just you students out there us oldies too suffer. We still do living here in Oz, how sad are we!!! We should be grateful for the beautiful places we have seen, lived and live and accepting life as it pans out, enjoy every minute, happy or sad, its all part of the beautiful tapestry of life. Have fun, keep safe!!