I realise that I haven’t made a single blog post yet about my shift to Singapore yet. I was dealing with my debilitating caffeine addiction, craving to buy notebooks at ungodly hours of the night, settling in, and murdering my conscience.
Right off the bat, you can’t find Mountain Dew (okay, not everywhere) or chewing gum in this place, so those are two obsessive-compulsive habits snatched away from me like a toy from a baby. You know what’s worse? Whether it’s on campus or places around campus, you simply can’t find good coffee shops in NTU.
They call it kopi here (it’s a Malay / Indonesian word) and it’s sweet and milky shit – not very much unlike South Indian filter coffee. There’s a variation called kopi-o which is black coffee without milk…but still with a fuckload of sugar.
Now I hear what you’re saying – why not just ask for a regular cup o’ joe? You think I haven’t thought of that already? Most of the coffee here is served from pre-prepared metal containers in canteens – or from vending machines. Vending machines that spew out coffee with milk and sugar when you ask for it black. It’s a daily struggle, I tell you.
This is a big climbdown from Surrey, where we had three Starbucks outlets on campus with Costa Coffee and many other quaint coffee shops within walking distance. (One of the Starbucks we have is a 250-seater cafe which is one of the biggest Starbucks in Europe.)
I’m so caffeine-starved that I’m thinking of making my own coffee in the hall of residence kitchen. If it weren’t for the fact that our kitchens only have microwave ovens and this video has freaked me out, I’d have given this a shot already.
Me: Maybe we can test the efficiency of voice recognition software with different accents.
Guy 1: How about dropping an egg from a height attached to different types of parachutes and see which one’s best? Or how about seeing whether a laptop’s heat can be used to fry an egg? Or devising a way to drop an egg from a height without it getting damaged?
Girl: Let’s test the effect of Red Bull on fishes.
Guy 2: My idea is…wait, what?
Girl: Yes, let’s mix a fish’s food / water with Red Bull and then see what happens to it. They might swim faster. Questions?
Me: Can I have your phone number?
I disagree on the point that fishes will start swimming faster. In my opinion, the best way of going about this is closely observe any blogs / Twitter feeds the fishes have and checking whether they’ve made any posts about sleep-drunkenness.
So yeah, NTU. This place is simply massive. You can keep trudging for hours on end to go from one lecture hall block to another. There are about 600-1000 students for each batch of each department that justifies the investment in real-estate this university has put in. Buildings are also spread further apart. I don’t mind walking since I’ve become used to in the UK now, but it’s the hot and humid weather that saps out my energy.
I’m also working with the student TV station here – called Spectrum TV – and their TV studio is “sweet mother of Alanus Morissette”-huge in proportion. I’ll be working here as VT playback operator, post production editor, and on a features team producing a segment like Mythbusters. Already working on our first episode that will be recorded live-to-tape this week.
I’ve had to take on a particularly heavy load of courses since I have to take courses from the electronic engineering, computer engineering, and computer science departments here to maintain compatibility with Surrey. (There’s no degree or double major as ‘Electronics & Computers Engineering’ here.) Many Oriental professors can’t pronounce the letter ‘l’ properly, which means that we are sometimes referred to as ‘erectronic engineering’ students.
I arrived ‘late’ compared to most other exchange students so I haven’t had the time to explore many places yet. I also unfortunately got food poisoning (some other friends got it too) after we ate at a dodgy place after a party. Missed out a trip to Malacca subsequently. I’ve slowly been exploring Singapore when my timetable permits.
I’ve had a few requests to make a blog post showing funny signs, so here ’tis. I’ll sign off here.
When I saw this at the on-campus supermarket, it was like love at first sight. Surely such a flavour had been invented only for a person like me? Well, don’t try it. It’s all levels of terrible, just as you’d expect.
At the local Courts Digital consumer electronics store.
Random banner outside one of the lecture theatre blocks here. No explanation as to why we should know this.
Technically, this is cheating since this photo was shot at a gift shop in Delhi airport and isn’t a sign. Still, why would anyone want to gift an Indian-style toilet? That would be an oddly-specific and passive-aggressive way of telling somebody that they are a piece of shit.