Two weeks at the National University of Singapore

After two and a half years of not travelling I was able to make a two week trip to visit a research group at the National University of Singapore. :)

This being my first international stay as a PhD student, it was nice to see how another research group operates and how PhD life in general is like in a different country. Below some general impressions—mostly regarding Singapore itself (not the research side of things).

  • Figuring out immigration requirements and COVID rules was super smooth (looking at you Japan, with your long winded websites full of links to PDF files, short notice announcements of change announcements, and placebo tourism North Korea style guided tours).
  • Travel to there and back was
    • Home ⇄ airport: an annoyingly chaotic mess as is usual with DB (with a scary cherry on top in the form of a Lufthansa strike announcement which hit several flights on the day I was travelling but luckily not mine).
    • Airport ⇄ Singapore: smooth and without problems
  • Public transport
    • The NETS card I got at the airport was ばなにゃ themed. ^_^
    • The MRT is nice, but I’m not a fan of it being forbidden to even drink water on the platform. Responsibly staying hydrated at one point (i.e. sneakily taking a sip from my water bottle way off on one side of a platform) there immediately was an announcement that eating and drinking wasn’t allowed.
    • On my third day when I was riding a bus I consciously realized for the first time that Singapore is left-hand driving.
    • Speaking of buses, it’s nice that bus stops on opposite sides of the road are actually named accordingly (e.g. X and opposite-X).
    • Felt like a pro when I hand singed a bus to pick me up at the stop I was waiting at for the first time. ^_^
    • Realized that Google maps isn’t of much use for the NUS campus area (and routes partly within there) after learning about the NUS provided buses (cf. NUSNextBUS app)
  • Food
    • Love the fact that in hawker centres, food courts, and even huge malls you’re likely to find a stall with lots of stuff on display and you can just order rice or bee hoon or whatever with this, this, and that, and some of that over there as well. I think what I went for the most is Hainanese curry rice with an assortment of what looked tasty and/or interesting.
  • Misc
    • I prefer the older coins with the flower motives over the newer ones with merlion and buildings.
    • Saw a Wagler’s Pit Viper in the wild and probably got closer than I should have for taking a picture (which I realized later when asking reddit to identify what I encounter ^^).
    • Installed Pokemon GO and the Geocaching app for the time I was there which both led me to some interesting places I would otherwise not have discovered.
    • Being able to read Japanese was helpful at times and I even picked up new characters, namely 咖喱 in 海南咖喱饭.

All in all I enjoyed my time there a lot. :)

See you and your tasty food again Singapore. I’ll probably trigger more no-water-on-the-MRT announcements if you don’t come to your senses by then. (;