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Singapore: The Difference As A Student Vs Tourist

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.

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The Perfect Tools on How To Apply for a Study Exchange

Are you thinking of applying for a study exchange?

I always say ‘studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity’. You meet people from around the world, embrace a new culture, and possibly even learn a new language. There are so many advantages to studying abroad before you can get to that once in a lifetime experience. I have to be honest and say there is a lot of work to be done. Applying for a study exchange can be daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start.

studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity

I remember the application process being quite long, hard and complicated. However, in all the longness, I still managed to get through the process, and honestly, if I can do it, anyone can.

Assess your degree plan

I didn’t know anything about a study exchange when I started university/college, but when I was told about it, I JUMPED on it like a HULK! If you want to do a study exchange, I would definitely suggest assessing your degree plans. Talk to your tutor/advisor from the minute you start.

You want to be sure that whichever study abroad program you choose has classes that can fit into your degree plan. You don’t want your study exchange to delay your graduation – unless you don’t mind.

Pick the right location for your study exchange

This, in my opinion, is the most essential thing to think about on your study exchange. It can also be one of the hardest decisions you make. I was only given 4 options which where:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. France (had to speak French)
  3. America
  4. Singapore

I originally went with Hong Kong, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided Singapore was the best option. Looking back now, I was grateful I picked Singapore because it was so easy to travel around Asia from. In selecting your location, I would ask myself the following questions:

  • Can you speak the language?
  • Do you enjoy the food?
  • Do you want to travel?
  • How far will you be away from home?
  • Would you be flying back home regularly?

Picking the right type of program

There are many different ways to do a study abroad. I don’t know every single programme and I am pretty sure it’s changed since I did mine. Check out what your university/college has to offer and don’t be afraid to talk to the program advisors! In fact, bug them from the minute you start.

As I said before, I didn’t know about study exchange/abroad programmes, but after speaking to the relevant people, I was confident enough to know what I was doing.

Picking your courses

I’m sorry to say this, but this too can be one of the hardest parts. You want classes that are challenging, yet that you will understand easily. Remember you will be in a new and different country. I picked courses that I felt wouldn’t cause me too much trouble to get into.

Also, check with your university/college on how credits are converted. I was upset when I was told that my grades would be counted as a grade lower than the original grade – for example, an A meant a B for me. This may impact your overall grade, so find out all the small details.

Finally, Apply for that Study Exchange!

If you’ve answered those questions successfully, then you know what you are doing. You may have to get a particular grade to pass for the study exchange, so be sure to study hard!

I hope you find those tools helpful. Have you done a study exchange, or would you ever consider doing one?

Related Posts:

7 Things I Wish I Did Differently for My Study Exchange Abroad

8 Things To Know Before Studying Abroad

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MyBreakingViews 10 Travel Hacks In Seeing The World

Today I will be sharing MyBreakingViews 10 travel hacks in seeing the world. Come on let’s get into it!

1. Study Exchange.

I can’t say this enough, do a study exchange if you are at uni/college of course. Yes those of you that are in those establishments should have lots of option to do a study exchange. Please do not make any excuses! Just go for it! I had a former friend that had the opportunity to travel abroad whilst at University; she didn’t take this up and now regrets it!

Study exchanges are the absolute best!! And if you ever need advice about going to do a study exchange programme drop me a line.

2. Create a bucket list

I always have a list of countries I would like to travel and as it’s said write your visions down and make it a reality. I recently wrote a post on the importance of visiting a new country every year. Check it out – Make It A Habit To Visit A New Country Yearly.

My bucket list includes me going to at least one country in every continent in the world. Yep, I have said I will do all this before I am 30.

3. Get to know these flight website deals.

There are so many to choose from;  PirateHolidays, Secret Escapes, Groupon, Onthebeach, Lastminute.com, Google Flights, Edream and Skyscanner . If I have to pick one, Skyscanner has to be my absolute fave they have recently input a multi-city section which allows you to do more than one city at once – but it only really works in your favour if you are quite open on the dates you want to travel.

If you can kill two birds with one stone and the countries are close by, go for it. I love going to a few places at a time. Just don’t be like my friend who travelled from America to Iceland to Spain. The weather changes required a heavy suitcase.  It’s difficult to pack for a number of weathers.

4. Do short breaks

Depending on where you live this may work out really well for you. I personally hate, staying in a country for longer than 5 days if I’m honest with you, I get exhausted and I can’t wait to get back to normality of life. Sad I know but I feel there is only so much you can do for a long period of time and if it’s not going back home (for me Nigeria) I don’t want to be there for too long. Living in the UK helps as you sometimes don’t even need 5 days and short flights mean you can travel during the weekends; if you have a 9-5 like me you will want to utilise the holidays you get.

5. Don’t be shy away from hostels

I’ve stayed in a number of hostels. They were very clean and accommodating. I had some horrible and amazing experiences. The thing with hostels is there is a terrible stigma that they are gross, which in actual fact they are very cheap and can be extremely nice. When travelling in South East Asia I stayed in actually really nice hotels/hostels.

The best websites I used when travelling was Hostels Worldwide.

6. Pack smart

I say this with caution. I originally was going to say pack light, which in essence I did when I was travelling Asia (my friends will lie and say otherwise) LOL .  I would say pack smart and only pack what you need. I see people packing things they don’t need a lot of the time and then realising they haven’t taken what they really need. Believe me it’s annoying although I am the biggest culprit in this. Pack for each day and night it’s so much easier that way and if you want to bring things back you have enough room.

7. Sign up to those flight deal newsletters.

I know those deals can become annoying. I was a big lover of Groupon until I realised that 8-10 emails a day was just not cutting it. I do get the occasional flight sales from Ryanair, EasyJet and Onthebeach just because I have booked with them before; they do tend to save me a great deal of money.

Sign up to MyBreakingViews for extra tips of course!

8. Give feedback when due hotels, flights & travels

I don’t know if you know this but this can help if you book with a large organisation like booking.com they work around the world and if you give feedback sometimes you may get discounts on your next hotel booking.

If you book with this link- MyBreakingViews Booking  you can get £15 pounds off your first hotel booking!!!!

Every bit helps.

9. Try and know someone in the country you’re visiting.

Do you have a country you would like to go and know someone who lives there? This is not easy for everyone I know, but for me doing my study exchange has given me friends that live around the world. I now have friends that I can stay with when I want to travel.

10. Don’t keep refreshing the website!

When your booking your travels just be sure not to keep refreshing (turning cookies off are a myth in my opinion). If they see someone is interested in buying flights/hotels they will bump up the prices, believe me I’ve seen it happen in less than 5 mins. When 4 of my friends and I booked to go Hong Kong my friends booked their flights before and within 5 mins the flights had increased by $50 Singaporean dollars about £25. I wasn’t impressed.

Do you have any hacks that you could share with me on travelling?

MBV

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How Did I Travel To 15 Countries In 7 Months??

This one of the main question I get asked over and over again. I even ask myself sometimes how did I do it? I still can’t believe I did 15 countries in less than seven months, but I did. And of course it still very doable. In 2013, I never knew I was going to travel I didn’t I still pinch myself now thinking of the countries I have visited. I’ve travelled to 27 countries, and I still can’t believe it!! Soooo, how did I manage to travel so much you’re wondering? Well, there isn’t any secret method or anything like that, and I am pleased to tell you!!

Sorry to burst your bubble, BUT there was never any a sugar daddy involved. Couldn’t entertain them just because I can’t stand uncles – SORRY! I paid for all my holidays, with my own money and as I’ve always been a big saver. I was and still will also go to so many places.

Here’s how I travelled to 15 countries in only 7 months…

1. Study Exchange

I speak about this sooo much – a bit too much actually, but this is the MAIN reason why I was able to travel so much! I lived in Singapore and was able to get return flights around South-East Asia for less than £100 (sometimes less). Why wouldn’t you move aboard for a semester? You get nice food and if you have a uni like mine you get a discount on your degree! It’s a win-win!

I’ve always been really good at saving money. I already had a bit of money saved up and I also have a savings account specifically for my travels. Every time I get paid, I try to put a bit of money into this account.

Read: The Perfect Tools on How To Apply for a Study Exchange

2. Savings

I have always been good with my money (except when I am on holiday). I always have savings and even when I’m travelling and I always live on a budget when I am back home.

3. Stay and travel in Hostels

I’ve stayed in very good hostels in Thailand and I’ve stayed in really horrible hostels in Australia. Every hostel is different, don’t knock it until you try it! If you are a solo traveller you will have to stay in hostels unless you have endless money of course. Hostels are good if you want to meet new people – so give it a go.

4. My Breaking Views – SUBSCRIBE

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