2 months into exchange- a reflection

This is mainly for my friends, to let them know I’m fine, alive, sane and what have you-

But in between crazy traveling, I would also like to do a little bit of reflection on what the exchange has thought me, what I would have done differently and everything in between. 😉 Also, information to help the people who are thinking of doing an exchange.

Okay, so onto the reflections.

Overall thoughts

Honestly, doing an exchange is not for everyone. Okay, I’ll repeat it. Exchange is not for everyone. There, I said it.

There have been times in my exchange where I have felt like a fish out of water, A fish out of water for a few hours, even. There have been moments where I have thought “What the hell am I doing here?!”

Noone will ever tell you about the times they have cried because they’re homesick, or the moments that they just want to curl up in a corner and be miserable for a few hours. (And believe me, I have experienced all of the above).

But the moments when I have enjoyed the exchange have far surpassed those moments when I have been in panic mode and searching for something familiar- which made this exchange worth it for me so far.

If you’re comfortable in familiarity, an exchange might not be your thing. And that’s not a bad thing either. An exchange is meant to push you out of your comfort zone, to conform to new cultural norms and to stick to your values when you don’t want to conform to those cultural norms. That is not easy. It is not easy to say “No, I do not drink” when there are 10 bottles of beer in the kitchen, it is your 21st birthday and everyone seems to forget that- surprise- there is actually a non-drinker in their midst (my policy is not to drink in public). But it is a worthwhile experience. And sometimes, that’s what counts more.

On representing your community…

Always remember that you’re a representative for your community- people will judge your people based on how you act. Sad, but true. Case in point: there are a couple of exchange students here that have refused to buy a monthly ticket for the month of March to save money. A friend of mine who is not from Singapore told me about this, and she told me these people reflect badly on Singaporeans. It makes everyone else seem miserly.

On cooking….

Why does everyone cook? Because it saves money which can be put to traveling. You get to meet new people through cooking stuff. And its a useful life skill.

tl;dr: Cook. You’ll be a better person- and if not, a better cook- for it.

What I deem essential in the kitchen: a pot, a nice medium sized pan, a wide baking tray, a spatula, ‘fork’ and ladle. Honestly, you can cook almost anything with those.

What I think is the most important skill to have: to pull something together when you forget to go grocery shopping and it is a holiday and there is no damn thing open-

The most useful appliance(s) ever: Oven and microwave.

On living expenses…

Get the most value out of anything you buy, which sometimes is the cheapest thing. But more often than not, it is not the cheapest thing. Especially for rice.

On emergencies…

They can’t be avoided. Always have some money (I say a few hundred is good, depending on where you are) set aside for those.

On online shopping…

Having something sent to your doorstep can sometimes be cheaper than buying it in the supermarket. Unless you need something in a rush. Remember, Amazon is your friend

On studying…

Your life shouldn’t revolve around it. But you are a student. That is your first priority, even if it is not your only priority. And if it is not, perhaps your priorities are a little messed up. No offense.

On learning a foreign language…

You will be very grateful when you can find someone who speaks English when English is not a first language around.

On traveling…

Always bring more money than you think you need, or else you’ll have to miss out on things.

Always exchange more money than you think you need.

And always bring someone or meet someone there – its a pretty awesome ride 😉

Always try to get things cheaply, rent the cheapest place that is decent.

And never forget socks.

On knives…

I’m scared of them (Has gotten cut a few times). Scissors please.

On eating out…

Find the cheapest place that makes you content. Small luxuries make the daily monotony of life a little more bearable.


And here we stop: I will post more stuff when I get down to it 🙂