Bye Bye Toronto, Hello Sunshine
Oh my gosh I honestly cannot believe that I’m currently typing out this blog post while sitting outside at a table at my new university in Singapore… it’s crazy!! Thinking back to last December when I first applied to go on exchange, it seems so long ago, and now the time is finally here! They say time flies, and I can honestly agree that I’ve felt that the most in the last 4 weeks leading up to leaving.
I like to call myself a professional packing-procrastinator, because it seems like I can never pack productively unless it’s one or two nights beforehand. But going away for nearly 5 months and packing the night before is not a good idea. Thankfully, my mom was super persistent on forcing me to pack, so I started 4 days before I left (pretty good improvement if you ask me). The fun part about packing is that it felt like I was packing for a tropical vacation: dresses, shorts, t-shirts, sunglasses, sandals. I didn’t pack a single sweater to be honest, BUT I did wear a scarf to the airport (I doubt I’ll be using it here though).
Leaving home was definitely bittersweet. I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to have a fantastic family who I’m really close with. My immediate family consists of my mom, my dad, and my younger brother, Adam, who’s two years younger than me and goes to Queen’s (boo, Rams all the way!). Though I’m not really a homebody type of person and I love being independent and exploring new things, going away for four and a half months is a very different feeling. So on the morning of Tuesday, January 6th, when my last minute packing was finally complete, my suitcases were loaded into the car trunk, and I gave some pretty big hugs to my mom and brother. My dad was driving me to the airport, which I was really happy about. I look up to my dad a lot and he’s encouraged me to always seek new experiences and adventures and to really explore the different doors of opportunity that life has to offer. He gave me a lot of words of wisdom throughout the car ride, which are things I’ve kept in mind while being here in Singapore.
We finally pulled up to the drop off at Pearson Airport. My dad helped me bring my suitcases into the foyer, and then it was time to say goodbye. It was pretty cute, because I said goodbye and gave him a hug, and he left. But then 10 seconds later, my dad ran back inside to give me another hug (I’m definitely more of a daddy’s girl haha). I was a bit disoriented for a minute or two, because I’ve never actually travelled on an aircraft alone, so taking in the fact that my family wouldn’t be there was something new. But I managed to successfully make it through all the stages of the airport adventure.
I’ve gotten on an airplane many times before but for some reason this time was different. Not only did our plane get a “plane wash” right before we took off (which by the way was super cool!), but I think the feeling inside of me was that I was still in disbelief about the whole experience. It’s one thing going away to a different university, but 20 hours across the globe, now that’s something hard to take in. The flight would be 13 hours to Tokyo, a 7 hour layover at the airport, and then 7 hours to Singapore. It was the longest flight I’ve sat on, but the time flew by with a good movie selection, including The Fault in Our Stars, yummy plane snacks (THEY SERVED CUP NOODLES!!), and a lot of sleep and stretching. I was very fortunate to be travelling with one of my friends, Katie, who’s also a Ryerson student going to the same university. We’re friends from playing soccer together at a young age so it was comforting to have someone along the way.
When we arrived at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, it was about 5 a.m. Toronto time, 7 pm Tokyo time. I’m not even sure if my body was adjusted or not to the time, but all I knew is that I was HUNGRY. So, naturally, when in Japan, eat SUSHI!!! Seriously, it was some of the freshest, most delicious sushi I’ve ever eaten.
Sushi in Tokyo!!
Round two of flying went by much faster, and as the plane officially touched down onto Singaporean soil, I honestly felt like crying, in a good way. I’m not a very openly emotional person, but all these feelings were rushing towards me; feelings of being excited, nervous, scared, and overall, feeling extremely humble and grateful for the opportunity I was given to travel abroad for a semester. It’s an experience that I’m excited to learn and grow through and I could not be more thankful for something like this.
Fast forward to getting off the plane, grabbing our luggage and everything else was smooth sailing. The local time was 6 a.m. Thursday morning (in Toronto, it would be 5 p.m. Wednesday evening). I wasn’t exhausted, but it was definitely adrenaline that kept me going. Two days in Singapore and I was still waking up in the middle of the night. But slowly, I’m getting better so hopefully, I’ll be fully adjusted in a week or so. Katie and I met a couple other girls from Canada at the airport and we all grabbed a taxi together to the university. It took about an hour, as our university is on the complete West end of Singapore, and the airport is all the way on the East. Funny enough, my school, Nanyang Technological University (We call it NTU), is actually closer to Malaysia than it is to the Singapore airport 😛 Pretty cool!
I got dropped off at my residence and I was so excited to unpack and meet my roommate. I had heard my residence was on a hill, but I didn’t actually expect the amount of stairs that I would have to face. I was living on the second floor, but I had to climb a total of 92 steps (Yup, I counted). So picture a 5’3” girl, carrying two 50-pound suitcases, plus a backpack and another bag, up those stairs in 30 degree weather. Let’s just say, I had an outfit change afterwards from sweating too much and it was quite the experience I’m not sure if I want to re-live or not.
And now, I’m here!!! I’ve unpacked all my things, and I found out my roommate, Aliah, is a local Singaporean. She’s studying Engineering but I haven’t actually met her yet as she’s still at home until school starts (which is on Monday). I’ll definitely give some more updates of Singapore once I’ve settled in a little better. But check out my little re-cap vlog, and I’ll talk to you guys soon!