Attractions: Singapore has a lot of shopping centers and almost every major MRT station has a big shopping mall attached to it. If you’re into window shopping/actual shopping then Singapore is a big haven for you! 🙂
A couple of the most popular spots among students were: Bugis (cheaper shopping district), Tanjon Pagar (street lined with western food for when you get tired of eating Chinese food every day), Harbourfront (where you can pick up a lot of essential items such as bedding, snacks, etc.)
The marina bay sands hotel, gardens by the bay, and the ferris wheel are must-visit spots, as well as Little India and Chinatown! If you really want to go see how local people live, then it’s better to go to the less-popular MRT stations such as Woodlands or Bukit Timah.
Food: The variety of food in Singapore is amazing! Since there’s so many different ethnic groups present in Singapore, the cuisine is basically a blend of a lot of different ethnic cuisines (ex. Chinese, Malaya, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. etc.). I honestly think food was one of the best parts of Singapore and there’s always a plethora of options available – local food canteens/cafeterias on campus, hawker centers off campus (one of the most famous being at Clementi, which is near campus), or a little bit more pricey but definitely worth it restaurants in shopping centers or in little neighborhoods. It’s not hard to be a foodie in Singapore! 🙂
Housing: Three options –
1) live in a hall (ex. King Edward VII, Raffles, Eusoff)
This is a great option if you want to meet local students and other exchangers right away and develop close bonds with your hallmates. Halls always have something going on for the benefit of their residents and are always hosting hall dinners or other events. The downside to living in a hall is that you’re required to purchase a meal plan and might not have the flexibility to eat at other places on campus/off campus.
2) live in hostels (ex. Prince George’s Park, U-Town residences)
Prince George’s Park (PGP) only has single rooms and the layout of the hostel is not conducive for socializing because everyone is required to have their key to go anywhere in the complex and you can only use the elevator to go to your floor. If you prefer privacy then PGP would be a good option for you. U-Town is the newest addition to the NUS campus and is really nice and well-kept. The residences in U-Town are mostly apartment-style where you have a shared flat with 3/4 other roommates and a communal kitchen. U-Town always has a lot of events going on but it’s a bit out of the way compared to the rest of campus so if you want to be near classroom buildings then U-Town wouldn’t be a good place to stay.
3) live off-campus
I don’t know much about living off-campus but I have heard that it can be quite expensive as the cost of living in Singapore is relatively high. You might also not necessarily be able to get housing near the campus.
**Air-conditioning is provided in all of the U-Town residences, some rooms in PGP, and rarely in hall rooms. All rooms (if they don’t have air conditioning), are equipped with a ceiling fan and you can always keep your windows open to cool the room.
Transportation & Travel: It’s very easy to get around and out of Singapore – there’s the MRT and bus system that you use an eZ-link card for, and since Singapore is pretty small it’s not difficult to walk around to get to places either. Getting out of Singapore is also relatively easy as there’s lots of bus or boat routes going to other countries; flights are also pretty cheap and definitely won’t break your bank if you want to go traveling overseas.
Faith: The main religions that are practiced in Singapore are Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. There are also a significant number of people who do not identify with any religion. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of the country, there is a great deal of respect for each individual’s choice of faith.
Food: Singapore offers a wide variety of Eastern and Western cuisine. However, the native food is a unique blend of Chinese and Malay dishes. It is a tongue-in-cheek joke to say that the national pastime of Singapore is eating, and everyone has a favorite group of restaurants and hawker centers.
The hawker center is the quintessential Singaporean food experience. These are open-air areas where various food and drink stalls will sell their wares, including satay, laksa, nasi goreng, and bubble tea. Low-key, loud, and very affordable, these venues are definitely a key aspect of the nation’s culture. Don’t be fooled by the relaxed, greasy spoon atmosphere, though. Several hawker stalls have won national renown, and even high-powered executives and government officials stop by for for lunch and a cup of coffee.
Housing: The majority of the population lives in subsidized public high-rise apartments known as HDBs. This is due to the high population and scarcity of land; thus, landed property is very expensive and seen as a status symbol.
Transportation & Travel: Public transportation is affordable and convenient. Large cities in Asia tend to have more developed transportation systems than those in the U.S., and Singapore is no exception. The two most common systems are the bus and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train system, and these can get you almost anywhere you need to go. The EZ-LINK card is the stored value card that is used to pay for the bus and train. They can be bought at any 7-11, and value can be added at any MRT station. If you’re in a hurry taxis are widely available and not too expensive. All taxi meters are standardized and there is no haggling over prices.