By: Nafeel Farooqui
Singapore – that little Isle once under Malaysian rule until it was expelled by the Malaysian parliament in 1965. Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, is credited with transforming the country from a third-world nation to a first-world country in a single generation. These, and other enticing facts and stories about Singapore, made me ever more interested in the country and excited about my decision to study abroad. Admittedly, I had researched this only days before leaving for Singapore, but it helped to formulate an image of the place that I was about to call home for the next 5 months. Here’s my take on the island nation with the strongest passport in the world.
My university of choice was Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Ranked as 12th in the world at the time for Civil Engineering, I was soon studying among the elite in my program. Exciting new research was taking place on campus and simultaneously implemented every day! From glue-laminated wooden wave-like roofs for enhanced insulation (Singapore is hot and humid!), to ground-breaking inventions like bendable concrete, NTU was a fascinating place to learn. Singapore city, infrastructure-wise, was no close-second, as scarcity of land is an ever-present concern for the island-nation. To accommodate a rapidly growing population, Singapore has invested in building and expanding upwards to support its high-density population. Singapore is also notorious for developing vertical forests linked to any high-rise construction going on in the city. Such developments are not only tourist attractions, but inhabitable as office-space, residential areas, cafes, etc.
It’s easy for an Engineer to get excited about all the ground-breaking civil developments that are taking place in Singapore, but if you don’t believe me, Google “Marina Bay Sands Hotel Singapore” right now and tell me you’re not impressed. With land constraints in mind, Singaporean laws have been developed to reflect these concerns. One such law restricts home ownership contracts to no more than 99 years. With perpetual renovations and construction taking place all over Singapore, nothing is termed permanent. Even motor vehicles are discouraged with term contract fees exceeding $100,000. Singapore is also known as a “fine” city, with penalties attached to simple acts like chewing gum and strolling on roads late night. As one Uber-driver told me “the system works because everyone follows the rules..avoiding the stringent fines and laws imposed by the city”.
I chose to study abroad in Singapore because it allowed me to explore a new region, culture and way of life, all the while staying within my budget. Food, on-campus accommodation, and travel (I went to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia) was very cheap for me. If you’re someone who wants to explore the world and appreciate a region you may otherwise not get a chance to see, Singapore is the perfect destination! I certainly grew from the experience and would suggest that you never know what life has to offer till you offer life yourself! I hope I’ve convinced you at least a little bit on choosing this path and this amazing country, especially if you’re an engineer, but if I haven’t, behold, my ADVENTURES!
Nafeel Farooqui is a student in Civil Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering at McMaster University. He studied for a single term at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.