Singapore’s a hot (literally), destination for students to go on exchange. There’s absolutely no need to worry about communication, food, transportation, entertainment and more.
#1 Take The Public Transport ALL THE TIME
Singaporeans might complain about the breakdowns or delays once in a while, but when you compare it to the transport systems in other countries, it’s pretty damn reliable and fast. Also, it’s priced by distance so you’re only paying as much as you travel. You can also get a concession pass, it will save you a lot if you’re using the public transport every day.
Considering that you can usually get from one point to another in Singapore in less than an hour, there is almost no need to cab. With a huge luggage, the MRT (our subway/train system) is still convenient as long as you avoid the morning and evening crowd. It’ll be harder to travel on a bus with luggage though.
Cabs in Singapore are the more expensive option, although still cheaper than cabs in other countries. More and more Singaporeans nowadays are choosing Uber or Grab over traditional cabs nowadays with both these companies offering better prices/deals/promos.
Don’t worry, you’ll probably figure out the transport system in a day. If you’re having problems, just ask any Singaporean near you or the MRT attendants.
#2 Choose To Eat At Hawker Centers/Food Courts
Singapore’s well known for its delicious and diverse range of food. Thai, Viet, Japanese, Korean, American, Mexican, Indonesian cuisines, you name it, we have it. The best food in Singapore is very often found in small hawker centers and food courts rather than restaurants. It’s also the smartest way to not burn a hole in your wallet.
Millennials in Singapore also have a culture of going café-hopping. We go to new, hipster-looking cafes for good coffee and good brunch food. Singaporeans love our eggs benedict and truffle fries, especially if it makes a good Instagram-able photo.
Here are just a few of our favorite cafes: Pacamara, Kith Cafe, Builders, Toby’s Estate
#3 Be A Responsible Group Member
It’s not easy to score good grades in Singapore, but it’s not difficult to just get a pass. Singaporeans care about their grades a great deal, so help them out, be a responsible group member and try to attend meetings. Singaporeans get that exchange students like to travel to nearby countries, so just let them know early when you plan to travel and we try to work around it. We can do skype meetings, but usually we prefer an in-person, face-to-face group meeting. The last thing we want is a group member that goes off the radar.
#4 Make Friends With The Local Students
Singaporeans are resourceful. We are highly dependent on each other for notes and tips for our assignments and exams. Making friends with a local student will definitely help you with your studies and make life a lot easier for you.
#5 Budget Flights
Flights from Singapore to other Asian countries are cheap, especially if you fly on budget airlines such as Scoot and Jetstar. However, like every airline company, take note of the baggage charges and other fees. Plan ahead, but always look out for special promotions. Companies like Scoot often have a period of low prices, especially during the holiday periods.
#6 Use Whatsapp Or Telegram
We use Facebook Messenger as well, but it’s safe to say that practically the entire Singapore population is on Whatsapp. We have group chats on Whatsapp and keep our Facebook usage more for entertainment. We don’t usually have Facebook groups for group projects. Telegram has also become more popular recently. Bottom line: GET ON WHATSAPP!
#7 Get An Adaptor
This seems like a ‘DUH!’ kind of thing, but bring an adaptor wherever you go. The power plugs everywhere (in school, at MRTs, in malls) are all the 3-pin plugs.
#8 PACK LIGHT!!!!
We cannot emphasize this enough. It is HOT, HOT, HOT in Singapore and Southeast Asia in general. We basically have one season all year round – summer. Don’t bother with your long sleeved shirts, nice leather jackets, boots because trust me, you’ll never even take them out. Flip-flops are what most Singaporeans wear every day.
That being said, Singaporeans can be fashionable as well. Do pack in a nice dress/suit/blazer/dress shoes for your presentations!
#9 No Tipping Culture
But you can still give tips for excellent service. You can find tipping jars at the cashiers of some restaurants/cafes.
#10 Water Bottle
It’s totally safe to drink water from the tap in Singapore. You won’t need to spend a cent on purchasing clean/bottled water! Bring your water bottle around to avoid having to purchase water and stay hydrated, it gets real hot during the day.
An umbrella comes in handy for both sheltering you from the rain and scorching sun! Definitely a better choice than a raincoat in Singapore (you won’t want an extra layer of clothing on you if you can avoid it)
That’s about all we have to your guide to an exchange in Singapore! You’ve made a great decision in choosing Singapore where honestly your only worry would be the weather. If it’s not hot, it’s going to be rainy.