I like many other study exchange students, wasn’t prepared for my study exchange. Back in 2013, I flew out to Singapore for seven months and studied at the National University of Singapore. While I had done a little research on Google I didn’t really know that much about the country. I was flying abroad blindfolded with no plans for what I wanted to do while I was in Asia. I was blessed enough to meet people who pushed me to go on trips.
Sometimes I look back now and have some regrets about things. Things I wish I knew and did before and during my stay.
Created a list of things to do in Singapore
I know I mentioned earlier, doing a bit of research on Google, but my research was limited. I had heard that Singapore had a number of laws and was a lot stricter than the UK. This scared me to memorise all the laws. Things like not bringing chewing gum or eating on public transport where things to note. I spent ages going on about the injustice of not being able to have chewing gum that I didn’t make time to think of the things I could do whilst living in Singapore.
Don’t get me wrong. The first month or so I did the Singapore Sling, ate some amazing street food. And when my family came down, I went to the Singapore Zoo. I still wish I did more. I recently went back to Singapore this year and realised how much more of the country I could have explored. Taking the time out to read up on some blogs may have helped me see such a beautiful country.
Here are a few things I wish I considered before moving to Singapore:
Packed what I needed
When my airline told me, I was only allowed one suitcase. Nearly grabbed my chest! I was so upset how can I only take one suitcase! I, of course, shipped another suitcase to meet me in Singapore.
At the time it felt like it was needed but in reality, I wish I had thought through what I needed to take. Maybe ask questions like ‘Ade are you really going to wear this?’ There were a number of things that I didn’t end up wearing and didn’t actually need. Depending on how long your study exchange is. You will need clothes to cover your time whilst you are out there. Pick clothes or things you can layer for any climate.
I say this because I spent a few days in Australia and met quite a cold country. Well for someone who had been living it a hot climate. Think about things you have to take and stock up. As a black girl, there may be products you won’t find abroad so stock up on them also.
Don’t make your bag heavier than it’s needed.
Started a YouTube Chanel or a Blog
This is something I have mentioned in my previous post like ‘Feel the Fear & Do it Anyway’. I do wish that I started a YouTube channel. My study exchange was a period of my life that should have been shown, but like every young person, I allowed fear to stop me. Don’t get me wrong I am so happy where I am with my blog now. However, it doesn’t stop me thinking about how cool it would have been if I started My Breaking Views back then. I could have talked about all the countries I visited in South East Asia. Even if you don’t want to have a social media platform it’s a good idea to keep a journal. That way you can look back at your experiences.
Knew when to stop
There were a few times like other study exchange students, that I let a little too loose studying abroad and ended up regretting it the next day. Wish I had known my limits and understood that going out didn’t have to mean doing the most. I remember a study exchange student going out every single night! I wish I had the energy to do that myself.
Taken that job
I was in the final year of my degree whilst living in Singapore so I had a lot on my mind. One was looking for another job! Funny enough I did actually get a job out in Shanghai, China. Unfortunately, my mother was adamant that it was a bad choice and put me off it instantly! I wish I had a bit more backbone then and decided that it would have been a good move for me.
Abroad you will be introduced to a new set of people from around the world. Take it in and use the time to network and connect with people.
Taken a photography class and invested in a good camera
Back when I moved to Singapore, I was terrible with the camera. I had a little small iPhone 4s and thought back then that I was doing bits! Wish I knew then the importance of good quality pictures. I started to become more and more concerned with how I looked in a picture. And almost half the pictures (if not more) I took were of me standing in front of this or that doing the same pose!
I wish I had learned more about photo composition and what makes a good quality photo before I moved abroad. Singapore has some absolutely amazing photo opportunities that I see people taking even today. I missed the opportunity.
Chilled out a bit more
I don’t know if I ever told you the story. The one where I had a break down in the middle of a jungle.
No, I haven’t? Well to cut the story short me and four of my friends decided to go hiking to see a waterfall. My friend fell and had a minor concussion and I literally panicked for my dear life and experienced a breakdown. Thankfully, my friend came around and to my surprise wanted to keep going. Once we got to the waterfall it was like nothing ever happened. I wish I was just a bit calmer sometimes.
These are the seven things I wish I knew before going on my study exchange. I try not to dwell on things too much. However, I sometimes wonder where I would have been today if I had started my YouTube channel back then or even started the blog.
At the same time, I think I can still learn from my mistakes and encourage someone not to make the same.
I tend to only speak positively about my study exchange hence why this post wasn’t the easiest. I guess it only means another post is coming up!