Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Singapore: The Difference As A Student Vs Tourist

By Posted on 4 5 m read 300 views

I’m sure you are all tired of hearing me tell the story of how I lived in Singapore. The beautiful city-state haha! Well, today is your lucky day because we are going to talk about the difference with being a student vs a tourist in another country. If you are new to the blog you need to know that I lived in Singapore for seven months and studied at the National University of Singapore.

I’ve only ever been both a tourist and a student in Singapore. I guess some people can argue that I could be considered a tourist in the UK, as I’ve lived as a student and could be a tourist in the UK, but I think it’s more fun in Singapore. Don’t you?

Before we get into the differences. I thought it would be wise to define the two for ease:

Tourist

Visting Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Usually, explore the local landmarks, sometimes if they are in the country long enough tourist can learn some keywords or phrases. Tourists can go as far as having a chat with the locals take some photos of the sights, try some local cuisines and end the trip with a fun souvenir. 

Student

student at nus

Students, on the other hand, live abroad, which gives them the chance to truly know and embrace a city. There is more time to discover the charming little streets with the best cafés and the ideal spots for authentic cuisine. You can end the stay with a life-changing experience that no one can take from you. 

There are benefits to both studying abroad and visiting a destination as a tourist. If you want to really get to know a city, a country or place. I would always suggest that it’s best to live and take in the culture, food and in this case sun.

Going back to Singapore as a tourist last year was quite an overwhelming experience for me. I had left Singapore six years ago a place I called home and was now returning as a tourist. The many memories that popped up while I sat in a taxi to my friend’s house, left me feeling quite sad. Memories of pretending to be a tourist in the first month. Living in Singapore going to the Singapore Zoo, clubbing and the Singapore flyer.

Above I defined the difference, but what was the difference for me?

Tourist vs. Student in Singapore

Visa Process

Student – you get a visa – mine was for six months. And trust me when I say it is hella of a long process! I arrived later at my uni/college than the other students. This required me to figure out how to do the visa myself! I didn’t know where I had to go and what I needed to bring with me. The staff were kind enough to allow me as they could see how frustrated and flustered I was.

One thing I do remember is not being able to locate my identity box. In Singapore, you are either African or British. You can’t be both Black British, like the UK. This was something that I was naive to believe was universal around the world.

If you want to ever see my student visa it I’m happy to send a picture to you (I still kept it after all these years).

Tourist – You get a stamped visa after completing a form (ask for one on the plane and have a pen). You are then with this stamp, able to stay up to 90 days as a tourist, on business or on a social visit. 

Language

Student – you may think that I learnt to speak Singaporean, but I’m afraid Singaporeans don’t speak Singaporean either. The country has a mixture of languages – Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English. As a student, I was able to speak English to all locals.

Tourist – As a tourist, I would even expect you to learn any of the languages. I was happy to of picked up on some words when I was a student (all of which I’ve forgotten).

Meeting People

Student – you will make lifelong friends. Honestly, I made such good friend that I’m still in contact with today. And get this. Last year I was fortunate enough to be at one of my international friend’s weddings and even better her bridesmaid. See the picture below – in due time I will be writing about my experience.

Dulang girls and Malaysian bridesmaid
friends in singapore

Tourist – I was able to meet up with friends, but with the length. Staying in Singapore as a tourist I knew I wasn’t about to make any life long friends.

Culture

Student – as a student, I was able to experience vast amounts of culture and more. I learnt about traditions, tasted the richness of food and more! My personal faves have to be chicken rice, chilli crab and stingray! My mouth waters as I write this!

chicken rice

Tourist – I guess I was at an advantage because I had already experienced living in Singapore as a student. However, as a tourist, there’s only so much you can try! I would suggest the meals I stated above – or you could subscribe and find out places to eat in Singapore.

Views of the World

Student – Looking back now, I felt like, I honestly was able to gain a new perspective of the world. I came home with fresh eyes to the world and was ready to explore more. I came back and felt out of places to my friends and family. Having experienced so much of a different life to them. Time had moved for me. I had seen and experienced a new and different world a new perspective and a new culture.

china town

Tourist – Hahaha! Of course, you can taste another side of the world as a tourist. However, I have to say that it’s never the same as living somewhere else!

Thank you for reading my experiences, I do hope you enjoyed them, and it encourages you to move abroad. Have you ever been both a tourist and student or lived in the same country. What was it like share your comments below.

Share this article

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 Comments
  • Kai ~ WanderingKai
    January 9, 2020

    Keep sharing your Singapore experiences, we love to see it!

    • Adebola - MyBreakingViews
      January 10, 2020

      Hey, Kai thank you so much for taking the time to read my experience in Singapore I hope you enjoyed it.

  • Gaurika
    September 6, 2020

    I’m in the 11th grade rn and am contemplating about studying at NUS and read each and every one of your posts related to Singapore and honestly it was a huge huge help!

    • Adebola - MyBreakingViews
      September 13, 2020

      This is so good to hear! Are you based in Singapore?