It's been almost two months since I've landed in Singapore.
So far, I've been really happy. I have to pinch myself ever so often to make myself believe that I've landed the privilege of getting to work with such gifted people at the ARL. It's hard to believe that a formal project on DTNs that I had taken on a whim in my fifth semester would later culminate with a Elsevier publication and a research internship at NUS, all while helping me fill out a considerable part of my Statement of Purpose for graduate school.
Singapore has been an beautiful city to live in as well. The city boasts of efficient public transport, awesome running trails, and a surprising amount of urban greenery. That said, I've never quite been able to shake the feeling of constant surveillance wherever I go. I remember being very concious of my mannerisms in my first week in Singapore, knowing that straying from the law is dealt with very harshly in this country. But since then, I've eased in to the modus operandi of day to day life in Singapore. Despite (or rather, because of?) the much higher quality of life compared to India, it has been easy to adjust. I am surrounded by Indians in both my lab and apartment, so I haven't felt far from home either.
The Sea2Space building, closely related to the ARL
It's been a welcome change from attending a college stranded dozens of kilometres from the city. It has been much easier to travel impulsively. No two weekends here has been the same here either - be it either spending an evening at Clarke Quay or kayaking in Indonesia.
View from the Chinese Garden Tower
The imposing Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay
The Singapore skyline from the Marina Bay Sands observatory
Trip to Bintan, Indonesia
With my school friend, Sharan
It's not all been sunshine in Singapore though. While I am very glad to be funded by the ARL, my stipend only just covers all my basic living expenses. Singapore is not cheap! Every purchase I make is accompanied with the mental gymnastics of figuring out how much my outlay would require me to spread out the remainder of my stipend over the days until I receive my next cheque. On the other hand, I have realised that I really do need some practical experience in budgeting and this is probably the most controlled and risk-free environment in which I can learn to manage my finances.
Hanging around at NUS has made me miss college as well. Seeing groups of students at any of NUS' several coffee shops, or at UTown in NUS always has made me nostalgic for campus life. Being an intern, I don't have any student access privileges facilities such as the the Central Library or any of the student recreational centres. From my perspective, the campus is a terrific place to work, but not a place I can feel connected with, at least not by the time my internship ends in May.
Yet, I wouldn't trade anything for the satisfaction I get with working at the ARL. I look forward to every day, and it truly is exciting to work in a field where there is only a sparse amount of existing research. I am glad I spent an inordinate amount of time programming throughout college as it has made my experience of debugging and learning my way around Unetstack far smoother. I also appreciate the methodical approach to research at the ARL, for it has done wonders for my productivity while keeping stress levels in check.
I'll conclude this by saying I look forward to my next three months in Singapore :-)