Singapore - #BIMdannmalinSingapur

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Podcast #BIM dann mal weg


How about flying to a country where a butterfly garden and futuristic toilets are waiting for you at the airport? Up for it? Then I would say: Off to Singapore! In this episode, Luisa tells us about her exotic impressions in Asia. She was lucky enough to get a place at Nanyang Polytechnic and enjoyed her semester abroad to the fullest. Luisa not only took a close look at Singapore, but also many countries around it, such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Bali and Thailand. Are you curious? Then listen in and let yourself be inspired by the diverse and warm-hearted culture of Singapore. Let's start the journey!

Contact details:

E-Mail:  bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at]

Instagram: @fwiwi.fhws


Moderated by Lara Yargiman

Produced by Lara Yargiman and Sonja Zügner in cooperation with the economics student body of FHWS

Sound and editing by Sonja Zügner


Lara: Hello and welcome to our FHWS podcast #BIMdannmalweg, the podcast of the Faculty of Business and Economics. Here we talk about the experiences of students who have spent a semester abroad and today we have a new guest here, and that is Luisa. Hello Luisa!

Luisa: Hi Lara, thank you so much for having me!

Lara: Luisa was in a rather exotic country; would you like to tell us where you spent your semester abroad?

Luisa: I spent my semester abroad in Singapore. It's a pretty small country in the south of Asia.

Lara: I heard that it' s roughly the size of Hamburg, so it's really very small. On a scale of 1-10, how did you like it there?

Luisa: Well, I don't think the scale reaches 10. It was definitely one of the best experiences in my life. I had a super great time there and the 6 months flew by and I would love to go back.

Lara: Very motivated for sure! So, you were there for 6 months, right?

Luisa: Yes, I flew from Germany to Vietnam in September, then I travelled for another month in Vietnam and then in October I went to Singapore and was there until the end of February.

Lara: I think you were one of the only ones from the FHWS in Singapore, weren't you?

Luisa: Yes, I was the only one! Originally, we were supposed to go together, but then the other girl dropped out and I flew alone.

Lara: All right. I would say Singapore is an exotic country. How did you come to it? Was it like "Yeah I really have to go to Singapore", was it a gut decision or was it a decision based on whatever, tell us.

Luisa: I had originally planned to stay in another European country, but I thought, why not take a chance? And then Singapore was one of the countries where I thought the differences to Europe are not so extreme, because it is already very developed. I really didn't expect to get this spot, because it's always in great demand.

Lara: I think with you it was also something a bit different than a university, but I'm not quite sure, I only vaguely remember you telling me that once.

Luisa: Yes, exactly, I was at a university technique (Nanyang Polytechnic), which is something like a "pre-university", that means the students there were all a bit younger than me and had just left high school. They go to polytechnic for 2 years and then to university. For us, however, it counts as a normal University of Applied Sciences semester and I was able to do all my credits there.

Lara: Did you have to pay tuition fees there?

Luisa: No, not in Singapore, which was also a selection criterion for me.

Lara: Well, let's take a little journey back in time, I guess. We are sitting in the plane and now tell us: where did you arrive and what was your first impression?

Luisa: I flew from Saigon and then it was actually only 2 hours. Then I arrived in Singapore and was a bit shocked by the size of the airport. The airport is actually quite famous as a tourist attraction because the Singaporeans have installed a huge waterfall and a glass dome, which makes the water look like it's all made of crystal and it all looks super futuristic. There is also a small jungle and all the luxury shopping shops and food courts. When I arrived, I was quite overwhelmed by everything. The first thing I saw at the airport was the toilet which was totally futuristic and modern and not comparable to the standards I usually know. Everything there was insanely new and clean, just as you would expect from Singapore - and that was also my first impression: everything was extremely clean! When I left the airport, I was hit by the humid heat, but that quickly subsided. Then I got into a taxi and the taxi driver took me straight to the university campus, where I lived.

Lara: I was now fully inside the film. Because you just said you just got into a taxi there. What is it like as a woman over there, can you just drive a taxi? Do you have any concerns or is it relatively safe? I think Singapore is actually considered clean, safe and quiet, isn't it?

Luisa: Well, I have to say that in the 6 months I was there, I never once had an unsafe feeling, even when I was out alone in the evening or at night. I do believe that Singapore is a small monitoring state. You don't notice it, but I think it is. I felt really comfortable in the taxi. By chance, the taxi driver's daughter went to my university and we got talking right away. The people there are super open and want to know everything about you, especially if you look like you are from Europe. They ask you lots of questions and, as I said, I never felt insecure for a second.

Lara: Okay, that sounds safe and good in any case. Did you go straight to a dorm there or did you live in a shared flat?

Luisa: As internationals, we had the right to a student dormitory, which was a bit off campus. But the campus was also very huge - a large area with a swimming pool, racecourse, football field, etc. . We and some of the professors lived in a smaller part of the campus that was only accessible to us. Professor Bialek also stayed there when he visited us. As internationals, we all had shared flats there and were mixed. I lived in a 6-person shared flat with 4 girls from France and a Spanish girl, and we were each in 2-person rooms and had a large living area, a large kitchen and a balcony. Everything was very spacious and newly made.

Lara: Awesome. You said that you were relatively quickly exhausted by the heat. Now I wanted to ask you, is it hot there all the time? If you play "I pack my suitcase" what would you pack?

Luisa: I definitely pack my suitcase so that I have to wear as little as possible and still have something on, because it's really hot all the time. At night it's sometimes 30 degrees, during the day it's sometimes 42 degrees. There are no seasons, it's just always hot. There are phases when it rains more, but otherwise it's just hot. But you have to remember that in Asia or Singapore, the warmer it is outside, the cooler everything inside cools down.

Sometimes it was 16 degrees in the malls, and you needed a jumper to put over it. I then flew to Taiwan to visit a friend from university and winter arrived there. Therefore, I would recommend anyone planning to travel to pack a warm jumper or jacket, even if you might not need it in Singapore.

Lara: Thank you for this tip Luisa. Did you often go to the mall to eat, or did you cook at home? And what do you eat there anyway? Maybe you also had a horrible experience? Did you eat any bugs or grasshoppers?

Luisa: I didn't eat grasshoppers or bugs because I tried them in Thailand, and I didn't like them. In Singapore, street food stands are not allowed, like in other Asian countries. To keep the city clean, the food is served in large halls. There are stands in the halls - food courts. And there you can get super fresh and good food for 1.50 - 2 euros. However, we also had 6 different canteens on the university campus, which were also divided by country. There was even a European cafeteria, which also had a Subway. We ate a lot on campus, but we also cooked a lot ourselves and got a lot to eat in the city. For me, it was almost always dumplings, because I developed a little love for dumplings.

Lara: Were there also vegetarian dumplings there, or what is it like for vegitarians and vegans?

Luisa: Actually, it works quite well in Singapore because they also have many religions in Singapore that eat vegetarian food, so there was almost always a vegetarian or vegan alternative with tofu, vegetable filling, vegetable soups or noodles.

Lara: Yes, that definitely sounds better than in South Korea because there wasn't a single vegetarian or vegan dish. Did you have any fears before you went to Singapore? Were your fears confirmed in any way, or what encouraged you afterwards?

Luisa: I actually had a lot of fears at the beginning, because I thought we were flying as a group of two and then I imagined all the scenarios of what could happen. But all the bad things I imagined turned out to be wrong and I made a lot of friends, which I still maintain now across many countries, and I got all the credits I wanted. I wasn't alone for a second and I managed every trip to the university or other places because, as I said, the people in Singapore are also super nice and I think it sometimes helps when you fly away from home for a long time that you just don't let the bad thoughts get the upper hand. Because in the end, I had a super nice time and I can say about myself that I became a lot more self-confident and learned French because I lived with 4 French girls and I was able to make a lot of nice contacts that I like to keep up.

Lara: Yes, I would say you came back very encouraged and to all the others who might also have doubts about flying so far away. I think Luisa has just found some very nice words - dare to do it and it will definitely be a good experience. Luisa, what I wanted to ask you, can you give us any insider tips? What should students definitely see and what is on their to-do list?

Luisa: In Singapore, I would say it's always good to stick to locals who can tell you which places you should visit, which restaurants you should try out, etc. Because what I've noticed is that Singapore is overrun with tourists and that's why a lot is done for the tourists, but if you go into the little narrow streets where the locals go to eat, then you get to know the real Singaporean food and can thus immerse yourself in the real world there and not just get to know the typical touristy things.

That's why it helped me a lot to ask professors at the university where they actually go to eat or shop. This was a good way to get to know other places. Apart from that, I can recommend that you definitely should go to the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel. There is a viewing platform that costs around 20 dollars, but the hotel has its own bar, which also costs around 20 dollars, but you can eat these 20 dollars upstairs in the bar and save the price for the viewing platform.

Lara: Yeah, Luisa, if I had visited you, we would definitely have gone up there, that was on my agenda. Again, about the application process: Was it easy? How was it with the learning agreement, were you supported? Were there any difficulties or none at all?

Luisa: Actually, it was super easy for me. I got the place in Singapore very quickly with Prof. Kiesel. On the website it says which credits you can do abroad and where. I was able to take over the courses that were listed there, plus an additional subject.

Lara: What I still wanted to ask... Singapore is relatively expensive. But you said earlier that you only paid 1-2 euros for food. Now I wanted to ask how much did you spend per month? Was it really that expensive or is that more of a rumour?

Luisa: Because I had a cheap rent of 300 euros and about 300-400 euros a month for shopping, partying and going shopping. But I recommend everyone who flies there to take a little pocket money with them, because you also travel a lot. For example, by bus to Malaysia or by plane to Bali. What really cost me a lot was all the travelling, because I travelled for at least 2 months out of the 5 months I was in Singapore.

Lara: Can you tell us where you travelled to?

Luisa: I started in Vietnam with a 3-week round trip from the North to the South, then I went from there to Singapore, then we flew to Bali and from there to the Gili Islands (I can recommend this to everyone, it was the most beautiful island I have ever been to). Then I was in Thailand over Christmas and New Year's Eve with my flatmates and with my family. We did a little round trip there and then flew up north again and to Phuket. After that, we went to Malaysia several times and towards the end of the semester to a small island called Langkawi and then I stayed with Chris in Taiwan, in Taipei ,for a weekend.

Lara: If you could describe your semester abroad in 3 words, what would they be?

Luisa: I would say impressive, hot and fun, easy-going and relaxed. It was just a joyful feeling.

Lara: Would you say that is a very open mentality or a more closed one? Are you connected with Singaporeans? Did you have contact with them or more with the internationals.

Luisa: Actually, I had lunch or coffee with many of my project groups. Then I was invited home by a group to Chinese New Year, which unfortunately didn't work out because of Corona. The mentality there is super open, only the age range between me and the others was a bit larger, which is why the connection just wasn't there. Every taxi driver, Uber driver and restaurant owner who spoke English asked where we were from, what I was doing, how long I'd been in Singapore and what I thought of it. Super open mentality and super open people.

Lara: I also wanted to ask about the language. I think the official language is Chinese?

Luisa: actually, the official language is English, but especially the older population only speaks Chinese and then there are many other languages spoken because Singapore is such a melting pot of cultures. There are super many Indians, and many people from Malaysia. In addition, there is now a language in Singapore called Singlish, which is the so-called Singapore English. You wouldn't believe it, but it's really different from English and sounds totally weird, because they use some strange terms here and there are phrases that I didn't understand at all at the beginning. They put a "la" at the end of every sentence. That means they say, for example: How are you la? And if you don't know that, then you're really totally confused, but as I said, the official language is actually English.

Lara: That means you get along quite well with English, doesn't it?

Luisa: Yes, as I said, I was actually lucky that one of my flatmates from France was actually from China and was always able to support me quite well linguistically. For example, when the 80-year-old noodle seller in the food court didn't speak English, she helped me, but otherwise you can always communicate with your hands and feet, I would say. It was really the exceptional situations where people in Singapore didn't understand me with English.

Lara: Okay, and one more quick question, the internationals who lived with you were already in your age group, or were they also 16/17?

Luisa: No, I was actually one of the youngest, because we had many internationals from France, Austria, Switzerland etc. and they were all in their mid to late 20s.

Lara: Then two more questions came to my mind. Is it true that when you fly to Singapore you have to sign that you agree to the death penalty if you find drugs in your luggage?

Luisa: I was actually waved through when I entered the country because of my student visa. I didn't have to sign anything or anything like that. I only had to go to the town hall at some point and apply for my identity card. But I don't remember signing anything like that - I think I would have remembered that.

Lara: OK! And regarding the suitcase you packed, did you also take something against mosquitoes? So do they have a problem with mosquitoes, malaria and stuff like that, or is that not a problem there?

Luisa: Singapore started spraying poison against mosquitoes at some point and it's still the case that you see the housekeeper spraying poison against mosquitoes once a week, even on our campus. In Singapore itself, I had no problem with that. It was more the case that I needed my mosquito spray in Bali, but I don't think Singapore has a problem with malaria either, at least I wasn't supposed to take any malaria protection medication with me, according to my doctor. Of course I had the mosquito spray with me anyway, because you just think that there are mosquitoes when you fly to a country like that.

Lara: Yeah, Luisa, that's it from my side, or do you have anything else you would like to pass on to the students?

Luisa: I can only conclude by saying that I can recommend to everyone who is thinking about where they would like to go for a semester abroad to simply dare to do something and not to go with the conventional things, but rather to simply jump over your shadow and pick the very special destination, because it will probably be one of the best times in your life and you can also spend it in a very distant place.

Lara: Definitely! Luisa, then I would like to thank you very much for your time and for coming to my studio. As I said, thank you very much and goodbye!

Luisa: You're very welcome and thank you very much for the nice interview.

Lara: And if you still have questions, you can always write to us at our email address at bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at] or contact us on Instagram. I'll leave the details in the show notes. See you soon and bye.