Seven months ago, I left home and got on a sixteen hours flight to the other side of the world, to start my exchange programme in a country called Singapore. Singapore despite being one of Asia’s smallest country, is a well developed and modernised country. English is the primary language spoken there but as well as that, many also speak Mandarin Chinese, which was the main reason why I had chosen to study there.
Like any student (who chooses to study abroad), I was extremely excited to start this new journey. I wanted a change in lifestyle and a new experience, but even more I’d been told by past students in my position, that their year abroad was by far, their BEST YEAR EVER! That being said I had no idea what living and studying in a completely different country would be like.
Cultural shock hit me hard! For the first few days I was filled with the excitement of being somewhere new, so I did it all. I started with visiting famous tourist attractions (Chinatown, Orchard Road, Bugis Street and Marina Bay Sands) and shopped a lot. I went to many parties and met people from different parts of the world. To top it up, local food here is extremely affordable so I was eating well. Some could say I had it all and was living the LIFE.
But soon this feeling wore off. As time went on I started to feel a huge sense of loneliness, something I never thought would be a problem since I’m usually quite content with being by myself. To make it worse, I began to get really sick as my body was finding it hard to adapt to the climate difference. So in attempts to fill this empty void, I’d call everyone and anyone back home. Keep in mind there’s an eight hours time difference so you can imagine how impractical it was.
Fast forward to now and I still get quite homesick from time to time but I’ve learnt to deal with it. This year has by far been the toughest year of my life but also pretty great. There has been times when I felt as if this was all a big mistake and why had I chosen to come to Singapore now. But despite everything, I don’t regret it. The past few months have been interesting, something I would never forget, or change.
My advice for anyone considering studying abroad. Think about it, think deeply about it because it is tough and not everyone can or will be able to handle it. Save up, a lot (trust me you’d thank me later). And if you want to do it, do it but do it wholeheartedly, be prepared for sunshine and rainbows but also thunder and storm because the experience will definitely challenge you like no other. But we all love a good challenge, don’t we!