Well I'm just chillin here in my room after a sweet Quality final this morning, followed by our nice farewell lunch at the port. It was one of those rotating tower restaurants with glass all around to give a panoramic view, and they served traditional Chinese food in about an 8-course meal. Delicious! The test went pretty well, and it feels so good to be done with classes for about a week and a half. Some of us are probably going to go out tonight to Holland Village to celebrate Charlie's 23rd birthday, as well as out last night in Singpore; it's a pretty cool place with a bunch of bars and shops and such. Then it's off to Vietnam (more on that in a few days) for some R&R before heading up to China. It's a little intimidating! Thigns are going to be way different there, and we will get a few days to settle into our rooms, buy our bicycles, and tour some of the city.
We''ve actually got three days of tours planned when we get there, and don't start class until the next Monday. Sweet deal! That having been said, I think I'd like to take a step back and reflect on my time here in Singapore and tell a few things about what I do during the week. Singapore has been wonderful and so easy to live in, and I'm sure I'll miss it.
Our dorms here at PGP (Prince George's Park) are pretty awesome. We have two different food courts, a grocery store, and a sports bar all within a short walk of here. They come clean our rooms every other week, and my air conditioner does an amazing job of keeping the room cold. Monday through Thursday, we generally have four hours of class: from 9:30-11:30am and 2-4pm. The bus ride to the other side of campus is about 15 minutes, and then its about another 10 minute walk to our classroom in the faculty of engineering.
intersection near bus stop
The walk is nice, as the campus is very pretty and all of the buildings have, and are connected by, covered walkways. I generally enjoy my break between classes; there's not really enough time to get stuff done and go to PGP and back, so I usually eat lunch at Techno Edge, the canteen over near the engineering building (adjacent to the McDonalds - which has 24/7 delivery by the way). Food is usually really cheap here, and you can fill p for about $3 pretty easily. I usually then go to the library to work on schoolwork or surf the net on one of the computers. Getting work done during the day was really clutch for being able to go out at night.
At least for this last class, we had about 8 NUS students in there with us. Most of them are pretty smart and although getting to know them was a little slow (they're kind of shy), it's been fun talking to them.
I think about 8 NUS students (not all from this last class) will be joining us at Tsinghua, along with about 10 or 15 students from Tsinghua itself. These Asians better not bust the curve! But it will be fun to get to know them. And have them go out with us to translate. I have been getting a little better at Chinese though, and am trying to pick up as much Mandarin as I can from some of our Asian-American students. It's not so bad once you start to get the hang of it. Ralph, our grad assistant, has held a couple of sessions after class to go over the basics. Not many people went, but those of us who did really enjoyed it!
Nightime activities during the week in Singapore have been an adventure to say the least. Basically the thing to do here is go clubbing, and we hit that pretty hard.
Cabs here are so cheap, transportation is no problem. Four people can split a cab halfway across town for $10 total. The Ministry of Sound, Velvet Underground, Zouk, Powerhouse, Phuture, and Dbl O are all of the places we've checked out, in respective order. Zouk is the most famous, but plays weird music. Ministry of Sound OK, but is in the awesomely cool Clarke Quay. Phuture plays the best hip-hop, but the atmosphere was a little crapmed. I'd give the overall award to Powerhouse, which was pretty much the perfect mix of everything. The best night to go out is Wednesday. Girls generally get in free and pretty much get free drinks all night. Great deal for them! And they might help us out a little bit by slipping us a drink or two ;-) Cover for guys generally runs around $25 with a free drink or two, although its a bit more on the weekend.
But personally, I thought the weekend could not compare to the craziness that was Wednesday nights. Let's just say there were a few rough Thursday morning classes. And being a white guy here is awesome. We are actually the "cool" people and generally get more attention from the ladies than the typical Asian guy. Georgia Tech, the tables have turned!
Well, that's about all I need to say about Singapore. I have truly enjoyed the cultural blend here, evidenced in the wonderful food. Hopefully learning to like these rice and noodle dishes has prepared me for Beijing, but I'm sure the bizarre is still yet to come. It's nice that it is always warm here, although we have run into a couple of the scattered tropical downpours. I'm starting to get a little anxious about packing my things after I return from Vietnam; I might not have enough room! I seem to have aquired a few more things (see Cambodia entry), but I'm an IE, so I should be able to figure it out.
Singapore and NUS, you will definitely be missed!