Singapore vs. England - Living Abroad for 1 year
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Nov 9, 2012 5:00 AM Last Post By: neverwinter
Oct 10, 2012 3:37 PM
Singapore vs. England - Living Abroad for 1 yearHey!
So, I'm stuck in the middle of a really tough decision right now, though I'm not complaining. I've been offered the chance the spend my final year of University (2013-2014) living and studying abroad. When I applied a month ago, I applied for both a university in Singapore and a university in downtown London. I'm now being given the opportunity to pick which one I'd like to attend as my home university has "approved" me for exchange.
I'm a history buff with a very, very big family history in England, Scotland, and Ireland. I have a lot of family living there and growing up, I was obsessed with those places and wanting to visit them. And since I've always planned on spending a year of school abroad, England was always where I figured I would go. And its where everyone just assumes I will go.
I would love to live in England, but because I will be living as a student I won't have a lot of money to spare. So while on the one hand I think it would be a great place to live abroad for a year, I also think England and the rest of Europe is something I would like to do on a bit of a bigger budget-- or when I'm older and traveling with a close friend or boyfriend, etc.
This leads me to why I also applied for Singapore. At my current school (in Canada), Singapore is most definitely the most popular exchange destination. Its a completely new experience, and I have a few close friends who spent a year there (last year) and fell in love. They say it is life changing and recommend it over any place they've been. I also like the sounds of Singapore because I'll get to see so much of Asia on my smaller budget, and get to experience something completely new to me. I really want to step out of my comfort zone.
Another reason why I'd love to go to Singapore is the weather. I'm sick of Canadian winters and need a break from the cold (I get really down in crappy weather). And if I went to England I wouldn't really get to escape the crappy weather..
The final issue that is effecting my decision is my family. I'm 22, but am pretty close with my fam. Because I'll be gone for a year, they really want me to go to England so I can be close to relatives and also be able to come home if there is an emergency a lot easier than I'd be able to leave Europe. However, most of my friends (especially the ones who lived in Singapore) are telling me to go for Singapore because its a once-in-a-lifetime kind of year abroad.
Anyway. I'm really just posting this to see if anyone has advice for me based on their travels to either places. My pro and con lists for both destinations is pretty even so far, so my decision is becoming more and more difficult.
Oct 11, 2012 3:55 AM
1if weather is an issue, don't assume that it rains 365 days a year in the UK, and we certainly don't get the kind of winters that you are used to. As I type it certainly is damp and murky, but it is October. We had a wetter summer than normal but there were still plenty of beautiful sunny days. Don't rule the UK out purely because of daft ideas about the weather.
Singapore of course is an almost constant hot and humid 30 centigrade year round, always the same day length, a little cooler at certain times of year. It is too hot to do much a lot of the time. I love Singapore (the people..the food...the city) but it doesn't have the massive amount of historical sites and variety of landscape that you'll find in the UK - of course it doesn't, it is a small island. As you say you'll be well placed for visiting lots of SE Asia.
as is usual with these questions, you make no mention of what you are studying and how the two universities compare. I get the impression that this doesn't really matter.
entirely your call (NOT that of your family). You don't need a huge budget to see the UK, but obviously it is nowhere near as cheap as Asia.
BTW no such word as 'downtown' in London. You mean 'central' London - at least I hope you do.
Oct 11, 2012 10:27 AM
2Haha, yes I did mean "central" I guess. I guess I should get used to saying that if I end up choosing London!
Thanks for your advice. I'm studying English/Creative Writing, but that doesn't matter much with the exchange process as our credits become either Pass/Fail... and both the schools I would attend in either Singapore or London offer the courses I need.
Plus, after 4 years I'm still not sure what I want to do with my degree (as is the life of many English majors...) so that doesn't have much say in the country I choose to study in.
All in all, I'm just looking for a new and exciting experience. I haven't had the chance to travel a lot in my life. I come from a big family so my parents had priorities other than travel when I was growing up with my 5 siblings... soo that's why I'm so ready to just get off on my own and see/take in as much as I can while I'm away.
Thanks again :) !!
Oct 12, 2012 8:03 PM
3It actually looks like you'd get a lot more out of London, personally and 'professionally'.
Asia can always bee looked at as a backpacker in a couple of years, and Canada has working holiday visa arrangements with Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. By then, maybe family will be more confident in you looking after yourself.
And really, Singapore is one of the last places I'd go in Asia for an 'Asian experience'; it is all rather sanitised.
Oct 13, 2012 4:00 PM
4I have to disagree with the comment re weather neverwinter (and sward29). There is a very real difference in weather between the UK and most of Canada. Having grown up in Toronto and recently lived in the UK for 6.5 years I think I know about the general weather conditions in both countries.
It isn't about the temperature neverwinter it's about the sun and damp. The UK simply does not get as much sun as Canada. That has a noted psychological effect. The UK is damp in a way that is rarely encountered in Canada. It gets into your bones. One clear example that this damp is pervasive is the simple fact that they sell picnic blankets in the UK with a waterproof bottom. That's because it is rare for the ground to actually get dry enough to sit on without eventually getting a wet butt. http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3400683.htm
I've never seen such a picnic blanket sold in Canada.
People in the UK are used to their weather but for someone from elsewhere it is very noticeable. When I lived there I never went out without a rainjacket or unbrella in the car. Certainly not overnight anywhere. Here in Canada I would normally leave home on a Monday in July in shorts and a t-shirt and not expect to need anything else all week. Suggesting you plan a barbecue for next Saturday is normal in Canada. Doing it in the UK might get you seen as crazy.
When I lived in Scotland after having lived in Greece people would often say to me you must miss the Greek winter (being warmer). My response was no, winters in the UK aren't that bad, it's the lack of summers I miss. Spring, summer, fall, not much difference really. Winters are relatively mild, easy enough for someone from Toronto but I'm used to real summers.
Bottom line, if weather is a major issue sward29, give it some serious thought. Canadian winters are of course cold but the UK's lack of sun and the damp is certainly crap weather of another kind and as far as I am concerned it is year round.
Oct 19, 2012 5:11 PM
5There are plenty of free museums and sights in London if you are worried about budget. But it can get expensive if you eat out, travel around and need to pay for accommodation/entrance fees etc. And unless you have a substantial amount of savings, I would leave the tour of europe until later, rather than scrape through on a student's budget.
Singapore would probably give you a more interesting experience than London and is cheaper to get around to nearby asian destinations. But it is more a cultural experience, and doesn't have the same amount of history on display as the UK. Singapore can also be very humid. Lee Kwan Yew himself said that air conditioning was the greatest invention of all time.
Oct 20, 2012 2:07 AM
6#4 - correct, we sit in the gulf stream, on a small island and so do not have the long spells of the same weather that you get on a big continent.
I disagree STRONGLY about the lack of sun, though. My tan is still just about there (and I don't sunbathe, just go outside) and I am heating rooms in the house this morning from sunshine.
I often go out without a raincoat if the forecast looks good.
BTW we had the driest winter and spring for many years, and then the wettest summer on record, then we had a sunny September and now in October there are still sunny days. More fun this way. :-)
Singapore is ALWAYS very humid.
Oct 21, 2012 3:41 PM
7Neverwinter, there is a reason why when I lived in Greece I (and everyone else) could tell when a Brit arrived on the island at the very beginning of the tourist season in April. We would sit in the taverna and remark, 'Look, there goes a lesser spotted Brit'. A la bird watcher type expression.
What we were referring to was the guy/gal in shorts, t-shirt, trainers with socks on and pur white skin. Spottable a mile away. Meanwhile everyone who lives there is sitting in long pants with a shirt and light jacket on and that's indoors! What a tourist thought was warm enough for shorts was not what a local thought was warm enough. It's all in what you are used to.
As for your tan being just about their, today was 20C and sunny here in SW Ontario. I happened to be out half the day building a new garden shed. My tan hasn't even begun to start fading yet for this year and I don't expect it will until winter arrives. Do you know when winter arrives? December 21st.
My Sister-in-law was just here on a visit and left October 7th. She was sitting on our deck in shorts and a t-shirt the day before she left. We were wearing long pants and long sleeves.
Oct 21, 2012 11:10 PM
8London's literary culture can't be beat. For an English major, it's a top choice. The UK is an incredibly literary place: loads of festivals and publishers and events. However if climate and dark days get to you in a real way, Singapore is at a much more even keel year-round, which may help keep you going steady through the challenges of acclimatization.
Singapore is trying its best to be a hub of resources for SE Asia, literary and otherwise. They've got a way to go, but as a base it's an excellent option to explore regional cultures that are changing incredibly fast. Having lived in both regions, I believe backpacking through SE Asia is a much more enjoyable and diverse experience than what's possible in Europe. And it's easily half the price - or less.
Oct 22, 2012 1:22 PM
Nov 8, 2012 11:53 PM
10Well I'm from Singapore and I hope life-changing is meant in a positive light! If you like travelling and I'm assuming aren't loaded, you'll love Singapore. It's in a very accessible part of Asia and we're small so it's easy to get around town without your own transport.
Which uni are you considering? Feel free to drop me a PM if you want a bit more info about the place.
Nov 9, 2012 5:00 AM
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