Touchdown in S’pore

After a seemingly endless 16-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore, I finally touched down at 6:12 am. Getting off the plane, I was energized and excited to see my home for the next 2.5 months; however, before even leaving the airport I encountered my first hurdle – housing. As all of my friends can attest to, my long-term travel planning often lacks foresight, so I didn’t have any housing planned upon arrival. Alas, there I was, sitting in the airport lobby at 6:30 am with my suitcases forming a barricade around me, googling hotels for the night. After finding a hotel in the downtown district, I hailed my first taxi and was on my way. Something that stood out to me during the ride, was how clean and well-maintained everything in the city was. Blooming flowers guided the car downtown with trees perfectly situated along the road. About halfway to the hotel, as we rounded a corner, I got my first glimpse of Singapore’s skyline and iconic Marina Bay Sands.

Once I was checked into my room, I departed for my first day of exploration. Even on this first day of travel, I experienced firsthand how friendly the residents of S’pore were. Having yet to purchase a SIM card, I navigated using map screenshots on my phone. After standing in one of the subway stations frustrated and lost, a local approached me and showed me which subway line to take for my desired destination. Over the next few days, I continued traversing different parts of the city and found a more permanent location to move into. At the house I moved into, I lived with a few other working college students from Thailand, Cambodia, and Italy. Living with them provided a great way to make friends my first weeks abroad which then carried on through my entire stay.


First Week Takeaway:

The biggest cultural differences that initially stood out to me was Singapore’s meticulous city planning, humidity, and cost of living. Last fall I spent four months studying in Shanghai, so most of my preconceived notions before arriving in S’pore were rooted in my China experience; however, Singapore proved it was a different beast entirely. Unlike Shanghai, the sky was crystal clear in Singapore with no trash to be seen anywhere around the city. Both the humidity and the cost of living were noticeably more drastic in Singapore than Shanghai; however, despite the similarities and differences, I was ready for an entirely new experience and great memories in the months to come.