Friday, June 17, 2011

Singapore is like home

This week so far has been pretty ordinary and therefore deserves recognition.

By this I mean, now when I wake up every morning I am not startled by the heat, I nod my head in recognition to the security guard for our apartment, I don’t notice curious eyes watching me on the train, I’m becoming more familiar with my lab…

It is like I used to wake up and say “Wow I am in Singapore today” and now I just wake up. I do not mean this to imply that I am ungrateful for my opportunity or that I am bored of the country. Rather, that this country is feeling like home.

There are some parts of this like home (Singapore) that I do like. Most mornings outside my window there is a bird, about the size of a crow, covered in goldenrod feathers, that makes a melodious whistle chirp.

Occasionally, I will find a land snail too. I watched one yesterday for about five minutes, I think it was eating ants and personally I feel like it wasn’t moving all that slow.

Last Sunday, walking home from church, I was excited because I thought I found a large sea shell on the grass (the big spirally ones that are always broken at the beach). When I picked it up, it was a giant snail! No lie, the size of your thumb to your pinky finger!

We also have geckos. Our first gecko in the apartment I named Scottsdale (previously Elias named a gecko Winfield, so now I feel that all geckos should have very proper names) but Scottsdale moved out. Then yesterday, I found a new buddy about two inches big. He wiggled under the counter when I tried to catch him. I think these geckos are nocturnal because they have almost translucent skin.

I am glad that Singapore is a like home. In addition to my unique research experience, I wanted this trip to serve as a test run for real life. I am away from home, am working full time, am supporting myself (with help from Rutgers, thank you so much again), and am responsible for figuring out what to do with myself when I am off work.

The reason why Singapore is a like home and not my actual home (ahem the United States of America, god bless) is because of some of the things Singapore lacks.

This past Sunday after a hike in the rainforest, Dibyo mentioned how it would be nice to have a slice of pizza. Like a disease, the thought infected the entire group. PIZZA! I’ve never had a desire to have pizza back home-but that Sunday I needed to have pizza. We scoped out the entire strip of restaurants near the nature preserve and disappointedly settled for Indian food (it was delicious, but it was not pizza).

The next day, Elias and I were grocery shopping at the mall (the malls here have complete grocery stores) and we found a place that served pizza!! We ordered a $13 pie for the both of us. Unfortunately, the waiter lied to us because the $13 pie was not meant for more than one person-or maybe not meant for more than one American. So after eating there we went to Burger King for fries (we did that with extreme pride).

The following day I made spaghetti and poured Prego tomato sauce on top. It was so delicious; I can’t even begin to explain it. The sauce was no where near what my mom makes at home- but the taste was so familiar and different than everything I had eaten for the past two weeks. Its also one of the cheapest things I can eat here (6 meals of spaghetti costs me $0.80 and I bought a big jar of sauce for $3.50-they were on sale =] ) so I will be having that more often.

This week, I’ve also had a little bit of reverse culture shock. A friend at work asked me if I go out a drink a lot and then said “It would be interesting to see how you dance.” One of our apartment mates (French Masters student, born in Columbia, who speaks fluent English, French, and Spanish, conversant in Italian, and is so excited to be taking Chinese classes-yeah I like her a lot) said that when she heard she would be living with Americans she expected that we would be partying every night. Now, I got the moves-but how different are they than Singaporean moves? I guess there is a stereotype that Americans are just party revelers (GRE word-I’ve been studying instead of partying).

Two people gave me the inkling that Americans like to party. But, two other Singaporeans gave a little old state university in New Jersey- maybe you have heard of it? Rutgers -some serious ups. One person said she recognized the name from all the research articles that she has read. The other was really excited. “Rutgers! Isn’t that an Ivy League school?” It settles it for me, Rutgers has some serious science clout as its prestige has carried its name all the way to Singapore.

The weekend will be rolling in soon-they are always very busy but extremely exciting. We are planning to go to an island offshore from Singapore that is a little less developed to get some more nature time in.

From like home to home with love

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