I think I have left a piece of my heart somewhere in Singapore

Travelling, as usual, brings us with a host of positive impacts on our mindset by immersing us in new settings with new people, providing with chances of exchanging ideas and love to find out how big our minds and our hearts could be opened up to. 

It has been more than 1 week since I landed in Singapore. It is the first time that I have chance to travel abroad, more specially, travel with friends rather than under the care of family. Just all things mentioned above made it become such a special experience in my life. At first, I was little bit worried about kind of procedure or things related due to my carelessness during booking session. Everything turns alright in the end though I know it would be another tough challenge when I fly back to Vietnam as at that time, I have to travel alone. But well it’s time to enjoy now instead of spending time on worrying.

About my first trip abroad “as-a-student”, as it is the first so it leaves me significant impression. After coming on board, fortunately, I was arranged to sit right beside the window, which provided me with chances to view the beautiful cloudy sky outside. It was such an awesome moment when I felt the plane taking off, landscape turning smaller and Red River turned to be a slim thread embroidered on the land. I just wanted to say “wow” when seeing clouds surrounding the airplane already, signaling that we had come up far beyond the land. And my excitement even went to extreme when I saw the small islands near the main land of Singapore. It was so nice to see the ocean twinkling under the sun in the late afternoon and the ship seemed to surf quietly on the ocean surface. I couldn’t help widening my jaw to say: Well it is Singapore.

But it was just the start of the journey. After landing at Changi airport, the Hanoi team, including two supporters and 8 contestants gathered to find out way reaching NUS. We arrived at 5:30 pm but it took us nearly 4 hours to get out the airport and head for NUS Business school. It was such a nice experience when we had to stay together as a team, nothing like organizing team or team A, and team B now, but one team – Hanoi team, dealing with a very challenging case, which is to find the best and cheapest way to get to NUS. We seemed to get lost for some times, wondering around just to find out the right way to be far contrast to our direction. Both team contestants are intelligent and familiar with travelling abroad, therefore, we finally got to NUS at 9p.m. by MRT, which took lots of students here by surprise as it is by no means an easy task for first-time travelers to Singapore. Singapore transportation infrastructure is far convenient and it made me amazed all along the way from the airport. It is the crowded but orderly station. It is the place where the multi-racial feature of Singapore can be seen obviously when I see lots of people coming from all walks of life. Some are from Chinese, some should be Malaysian, and some seems to originate from South Asia. There were students, soldiers, white-collar and blue collar employees taking the MRT as well. I had to tell to the inner one in my mind that I reached Singapore already, a place in the south of Vietnam and it is of course south further than Ho Chi Minh City. I have dreamt of studying in Singapore when I was an eighth-grade student, first hearing about kind of Singaporean Scholarship for Vietnamese students. At that time, lack of information prevented me from chances to get to know to all such things. I just knew that I had to learn English hard but not the form of the exam, therefore, when I was invited to take the application But examination for ASTAR, I was totally overwhelmed with all stuff in the exam such as IQ test, etc. now I have been to Singapore on my own expense, which I have to save up for nearly 5 months working part-time. This could be considered an achievement, couldn’t it? Instead of going there by winning competition, or studying abroad, I went there by challenging myself with part-time job, determination to move to discover new places and now discovering NUS as a member of organizing committee with all kinds of lounge, seminar room, hall, which are not included in any tourist brochure in Singapore. Well, I headed to NUS, getting off at Kent Ridge before taking the shuttle bus to get to NUS Business School, where the event took place. The first impression of NUS is that it is so big enough for students to take a bus to get around in the campus. I remember passing nearly 7 or 8 bus stops to get off at NUS Business School. On way to the venue, I couldn’t help smiling along the way when looking at the buildings, the stadium, etc. and say to myself: It is Singapore and here is NUS – the cradle of the top business case crackers of the world. My smiling face could not be hidden from my friends and they teased me all the times for this kind of expression. J When we reached NUS, it was 9 p.m. already and I had chance to meet some members in the organizing team. Everybody was damn so cute and they made me feel like home right immediately by relentlessly asking me and Ms Van Anh if we were hungry or needed anything. We had worked with each other mainly through Skype before and it was quite strange to have chance to face them, to talk with them directly. Right after eating something and taking a bath, I got down to working with the cases. I cannot find any suitable word to describe fully the dedication of Thuy My and Van Anh to the case study. They did not compromise on the quality standard of the case study, trying their best to improve the quality of the case such as finding much more reliable sources of information, balancing the amount of information to align with the requirement from the companies while considering the capacity of the contestants. I have to admit that the learning points that I gained from this night really helped me confirm what I was still confused about what I have to do in Case Content Department.

If I try listing things happening during days, I will be never able to stop my lengthy story. Three days spending in NUS and meeting lots of interesting people made me think hard. The first thing popping up in my mind is that why everything in Singapore could be that big while the whole nation is just a small spot on the world map. The university is damn too large and it would take you such a long time to get acquaintance to the school. NUS is famous for the “forest” inside the school while NTU is famous for staying inside a forest. The only annoying thing in this school is its complicated system of corridor and staircases along with the awkward arrangement of WCs. I enjoyed going around the campus to sightsee different buildings, made a short visit around the dormitory for students or the beautiful gardens between blocks of buildings. Mochtar Riady Building is the most impressive architecture in the school and I still remember being overwhelmed while setting my hesitant steps inside the building, having a look at the large banners hung on the corridor, reading the motivating slogans and feeling the business atmosphere surrounding. Other architectures in NUS are also fantastic such as the dormitories for students, in which I spent 2 nights there. Thing that came across my mind is the great emphasis of Singaporean government has put on education.  There is not much difference between the textbooks and curriculum between NUS and FTU, however, it is the study environment and the way NUS students are instructed that create the distinction. I cannot help admiring the confident way they delivered their solutions to the board of judges, the manner in which they addressed the questions of the judges. Unlike students coming from Vietnam, grouping for some minutes to come up with answers, students in Singapore usually take initiatives on their own, given that they have understood fully their parts.

Getting out of NUS for a while in the second day and spending all days around some places in Singapore both made my days in Singapore unforgettable. I have done window-shopping in Vivo City, Harbor Front, Bugis, enjoyed meals in City Hall, Newton, burying myself in the cultural atmosphere of Little India, and wandering around with MRT and bus station. I was extremely keen on the traffic systems, seeing the orderly hustle and bustle. I was surprised to see a large number of people moving around Singapore smoothly, without any traffic jam. On the surface, it seems to be the land of cars and hardly could I see people walking on the roads at the first day I came. I soon realized that Singaporean had more things to do underground and in the super centers. In Singapore, each MRT station is a commercial center, in which people hang out, dine out or do some shopping. People travel from places to places by MRT, by bus, or walking through shopping center. The country seems small but in fact it is very big due to its ability to utilize the spaces. The other things that strike me the most is the unnatural beauty of the nature in Singapore. Everything in Singapore is too organized and artificial, even the nature. The flowers are planted orderly and it is difficult to see any weed. A travel mate on my flight back to Singapore had said that: The problem of Singapore is that it is too organized. I, however, think that: The nature of Singapore is unnaturally beautiful; and I even call it the cosmetic beauty.🙂

The other thing of Singapore that has left significant impression on me is its people. From the airport to the MRT or any places, smile was the beautiful thing that I could find everywhere. People here are willing to offer help when I got into troubles, sparing the seat when seeing me busy with the giant backpack and saying thank you with bright smile after I bought something. Even I entered the shop without buying something, they still smiled at us.

It would be insufficient if I do not mention my travel mates in Singapore. In my flight to Singapore and flight back home, I made friends with teams coming from Hanoi. They are both admirable in their own ways. Both of them are quite amiable and willing to help each other. Some of them have numerous international experiences by attending international conference for youth or going on exchange program to UK and Japan. Their interesting stories about these faraway lands have already instilled desire of discovering the new land and enjoying the beauty of living globally like this.

Closing my eyes now for a while, I still could imagine the joy and the laugh I had experienced along the way, the nice and helpful seniors in Ychallenge, the lovely travel mates, the long and winding corridors with lots of doors in NUS, the beautiful campus and friendly dormitory, the mystery and colorful atmosphere in Little India, the crazy fountain at Bugis Junction, the magnificent view to Marina Bays from the roof of Esplanade Theatre, my crazy running to catch MRT and bus in my last night in Singapore. I do hope that I will have chance to come back to this beautiful nation to find out more about it in the upcoming future.

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