The Singaporean Life

I’ve been in Singapore for two weeks now and I’ve got the idea that I’m starting to find out how I’m supposed to live here in Singapore. I’ve had one week of lectures and something like a routine starts to emerge in my usually quite erratic lifestyle.

School

As far as school goes, I applied for 6 courses from which I followed all first lectures. Going to NUS is always a bit of a weird process. You’re supposed to get accepted for at least one course you apply for, but when you get here, you’re supposed to pick your study package. You’ve got two weeks after class starts to do so. So with this whole process of dropping and adding, NUS has something called ‘shopping week’, in which all lectures are really crowded with people who are considering taking that course. And the second week they drop the courses that are too hard, too boring, too easy, too whatever.

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So I’ve been shopping too and took the following courses: ‘Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition’, ‘Introduction to Fuzzy/Neural Networks’, ‘Modeling Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Analyzing Psychological Data using General Linear Models’. 2 Computer science courses, 1 electrical engineering course and 1 psychology course. Very much like back at the TU/e, where I have courses at all three of those faculties too. I’m pretty confident about passing these 4 courses, but the Uncertainty one and the Computer Vision one are going to be really hard work. Something that is somewhat unusual for me, but something I started right away from the first day of lectures.
My schedule is pretty light, but I’ve got courses at the weirdest hours. Monday en Tuesday I have courses from 1830 till 2030… Wednesday I don’t have any courses. Thursday I’ve got one course from noon till 1400 and on Friday I’ve got one course from 1000 till 1100 and then one from 1600 till 1900. It’s pretty weird… but on the other hand, coursework in here is only something like 25% of what you’re supposed to do.
Not al courses start with the serious business right away, since this is supposed to be shopping week, right? Except for my Uncertainty course… I’ve been reading two articles and a couple of chapters on Bayes’ theorem and applications of it. Pretty interesting, although it’s still quite abstract. This course is going to be hard, so I’m really putting my hours into it. Let’s see if it pays off.

Rhythm

A life pattern is somewhat emerging from my seemingly random activities and urges and needs. Apart from the courses that I go to, for which I have to travel around 1 hour, I find the time to do other important stuff like eating, sleeping, drinking, shopping, sightseeing, etcetera. From these activities, eating is definetely the most fun. My breakfast consists like in Holland of cereals and milk, but the fun really starts at lunch. All the food here is great, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, Malayan. Plus it’s really cheap at the hawker centers here.
So around noon or 1 I grab my first meal, and then at 7pm I grab my dinner. I’m starting to appreciate spicy food.
And throughout the week I have a couple of things to do. Wednesday night is partynight, which is fun in Singapore too. Beers are expensive, but you get wasted pretty easily with this hot weather, so I spend about as much as I would in Holland.

Social stuff

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Getting wasted by yourself is pretty… sad. Luckily there really are a lot of people in the same situation I am, so from the first week it was easy to find people to get wasted with. Right now there is the healthy tension between two groups of people who I can hang out with. On the one hand the Dutch guys from my uni hooked up with a couple of Norwegians, which is pretty fun. And on the other hand there’s a couple of people from everywhere, who I know through one of my classmates for my Computer Vision course.
And next weekend already I will have to decide with who I’m going on a trip. Either to the Perhentian Islands with the foreigners, or to Pulau Tioman with the Dutchies… It both sounds good to me :(.


Traveling

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And ye. Singapore is also known as the hub of South East Asia, so I have the idea I should take advantage of it. From 6th till 8th of August I went on a trip to Kuala Lumpur with my fellow students, which was pretty nice. (check out my gallery) A bit too crowded to walk around easily and a bit too early after arriving in Singapore to really be used to anything, maybe it wasn’t really worth it. But it was still good fun! And now next weekend I’m going to somewhere in Malaysia. For the recess week I’m maybe going to Bangkok and in December after my last exam, I’ll be traveling around with my girlfriend. Indonesia? Thailand? Vietnam? Hong Kong? Australia? Anyone can recommend anything?

General Findings

– Singaporean people walk really slow and don’t pay attention to anyone walking behind them. So they can just stop anywhere on the road causing you to bump into them.
– Singaporeans, like their speed of walking, do not run very fast. It’s more like they want to show that they’re spending effort in trying to move faster than actually move faster, causing them to swing and flail wildly with their arms and legs, but not moving very much faster than normal.
– Singaporeans don’t have long hair and goatees. I do. Most people don’t mind, except for people from India. For some apparent reason they really stare me down. Really… really down. And they don’t stop when I start staring back… It kinda creeps me out.

POLITIXZ

Porn is banned, the National Day Parade seemed more like war propaganda to me and there’s 4 official languages. The discussion going on in Holland whether or not the government is patronizing too much sounds almost ridiculous when you see what the government tells people here. For all men there’s a yearly fitness test on which you have to perform sufficiently to be able to serve your country in times of need. If you don’t perform well enough, you have to do training for a while as punishment.