- Track down the airhostess who kept sniggering and referring to peanut packets as “nuts of pee” to her crew members. Let out a long sigh and tell her when you’re deboarding, “[sigh] The bomb depressurized when the in-flight entertainment system was rebooting.”
- Exit the aircraft and head towards immigration desk. Keep switching queues to whichever one is moving faster, even though there are, like, three people in front of you.
- Hand the immigration officer your visa printout…folded as an origami duck. (There was nothing to do for fifteen minutes while the in-flight entertainment system rebooted during flight. The in-flight entertainment system runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux on AMD Geode processors in a thin-client setup, just in case you didn’t want to know.)
- Once you’ve escaped immigration, proceed to customs. Say you’ve nothing to declare, open a packet of chewing gum, and start chewing one. Offer to the nice lady manning (womanning?) the X-ray machine.
- Take the elevator to the basement where the food court is. Enter each and every eatery and smash into people’s chairs with the big-ass travel bag you’re lugging. (Do apologise later.)
- Buy an Adidas cap from the Sportslink store on the same floor, then realize much later in the day how stupid you must have looked because you forgot to take the stickers off the front. Hum the tune from the annoyingly catchy Have You Met The Sims by Kill Paradise while make said cap purchase.
- Take the elevator back upstairs. When the OCBC Bank and American Express counter employees both start beckoning you to come to their counter to exchange currency, act confused and oscillate your path as if you can’t decide where to head. Cruelly ignore one of them and choose the other instead. Slam down an assorted mix of Indian rupees and British pound coins – ask for it to be converted to Malaysian ringgit. Accept converted currency, then give it right back and request to convert it to Singapore dollars.
- पेट में चूहे कूद रहे हैं? (A Hindi idiom about hunger roughly translated to “Are there rats jumping around in your stomach?”) Search for a food establishment. But first, buy a prepaid SIM card from the M1 Mobile counter (it’s close to the information desk) – all you need to show is your passport and S$15 – and then knock over a shelf of bottled water at the nearby ‘Cheers’ convenience store.
- Don’t fucking miss this. There’s a coffee shop called The Coffee Connoisseur on the same floor at Terminal 3 Changi Airport where you get taxis from. Order a cup of Sumatra Dark, a plate of nachos with salsa and tomato dip, and a chestnut cake. The waiters there can read your mind and they’ll change the cutlery to the one required for the dish you’re eating before even you have thought of eating it. Everything from the presentation of the food, the glass of water they give down to the napkin they offer has a quirky touch of the shop. Savour the rich, dark taste of coffee. The place is a tad expensive if you think about it – but you won’t think about it, since you’ve just been to one of the best coffee chains you’ll ever come across. (I didn’t do this, but load On The Nature of Daylight by Max Richter on your cellphone and play it while you eat/drink at The Coffee Connoisseur; I’m sure you’ll enjoy your meal even more.)
- Take a taxi and arrive at Nanyang Technological University campus close to 9pm with a driver who can’t speak English, a passenger (namely, you) who doesn’t have a map of the campus, and reach your destination using the method “Well, if we travel down every road there is and take every turn, surely we’ll reach where I need to get off sooner or later?”
I realize this blog post is seven days too late. I have been busy with orientation week two-days, shouting words I don’t really understand, and nursing myself back to health from the cold that I have caught. Yes, I have caught a cold in a country situated roughly 1° above the equator.
Meanwhile, if you want to read what my fellow exchange students in Singapore are doing, start off Swappe.net – “a site just for exchange students here” that inspires a lot of confidence by offering free ‘Helath & Safety’ information. Oodles better – and actually an interesting read – is Rebans Blogg, where you can follow an exchange student’s story of life in Singapore.
(Or interested in Nederland instead? Add All Those Books And Still Not Smart to your reading list.)