10 Things Nobody Tells You About Exchange


I’m currently sitting in my room in the middle of the night typing this up because jet lag is still plaguing me after 3 days. I did NOT have an enjoyable flight or get any good rest on my Emirates flight.

Screenshot_2015-06-20-23-49-20 You can read the drama on the FB rant I made above. We reached the check in just as the airport staff were closing the check-in counters (the screen was still showing Emirates) but were denied entry. I wasn’t angry over the fact that we missed it, but it was really their unapologetic and dismissive attitude that put a dent in my mood. Luckily the Emirates ticket and reserving counter had a nice man who seemed friendly enough. And I guess I should count my blessings because it only cost me an additional 100 bucks to book my new flight. My friends also commented that Emirates suck, so I don’t know how they made it to Top 5 airports, when their flight attendants also damn haughty don’t know for what. Emirates can kiss my ass. NEVER AGAIN. If you’re going on exchange, I’ll advise you to give Emirates a pass.

The airport sucked, everywhere I went there were people who were talking and couldn’t keep their mouth shut even when it was 3 am. Camped at the charging points and some auntys were being so inconsiderate. They knew we were sleeping but they sat behind us and talked at the top of their voices. Like what kind of story do you have that it’s so good that everyone must hear?! In my defense I WAS ALREADY THERE ONE HOUR BEFORE YOU AND I ALREADY CLOSED MY EYES TO SLEEP. Stupid bitches. Moved to BK because I can’t sleep with any noise, and an Middle Eastern family with three kids decided to sit in the booth next to mine. The kid even kicked me AND STARED AT ME LIKE IT WAS MY FAULT. Wtf max. I think I picked the worst spots to sleep because all the other spots were so quiet. Sorry I never sleep in airport before LOL.

 So yes, that was my homecoming (literally) story. So funny how I had 20+ smooth flights throughout my exchange and only the last one had so many hiccups.

If you’ve been reading my blog and following me on my exchange adventures, you’ll probably know how I feel about exchange. It’s pretty mixed. On one hand, I am super glad that I got the opportunity to go overseas and visit so many different places together with my boyfriend (Read what it’s like to live with your SO here). I got to experience what it was like to live on my own, got to experience living in a foreign land. I got to make some excellent friends whose friendships I hope to keep, I got to relax and enjoy life for five months.

On the other hand… Let’s just say there are some downs as well.

I know, how can anyone say that?! Am I not ungrateful for saying that I didn’t enjoy exchange during some parts of it?

Not really, I’m just being truthful. I was pretty surprised myself when shit happened to me. Maybe I was too naive, but turns out Instagram and Facebook aren’t reliable, or rather, you can’t trust your friends’ “highlight reel” entirely.

Here are 10 things nobody tells you about exchange:

1. Expect racism. Loads of it. 



Yes, that phrase was said to me in my face before. 

Want to know from who? From a Swedish bus driver in Lund. I’ve also been shouted at in angry Swedish in the supermarket by a lunatic woman. I’ve been scared in public at night by a fat Polish dude (click here for full story). I’ve been scolded by a Parisian dude who questioned my manners, my ability to speak English and my level of education (click here for full story). I’ve been harassed by a young German teenager, greeted in various Asian greetings by German school kids, a Swiss shopgirl asked us if we knew the RMB to CHF rate etc etc. You get the idea.



I’ve been met with “你好” so many times that I’ve lost count.

Most of them would automatically think that you’re from China WHEN THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO ASIA THAN JUST CHINA BITCHES.



I purposely chose this map even though West Asia (better known as Middle East) is excluded because they put Singapore up. Yay!

Perhaps it’s too much to expect when they don’t even know geography.

Ok I know these people are from America but you get the gist. I’m no expert, but I know that there’s so much more out there. So I don’t automatically assume every white person I see in SG as “American” or “English” if you know what I mean.

Which leads me to my next point….

2. You’re gonna get stared at a lot

What, never seen an Asian before?



The only exception being tourist-flooded places like Monaco, Nice, Santorini etc etc because it’s only there that almost everybody isn’t local and you won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

3. Nothing is safe



Singapore is one of the safest place, ever. So too bad, nothing will feel as safe as home.

Someone asking you for donation opening with “Do you speak English?” DANGER DANGER ALERT.

Someone trying to sell you stuff? EW GET AWAY GET AWAY!

Someone walking too close to you? RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

As I’ve said, nothing is safe. Nothing.

4. Be prepared for asshole neighbours

If you’re a light sleeper, get ready to kiss sound sleep goodbye.

My next door neighbours like to leave food like bananas and rubbish outside and their bicycle on the landing in front of my door, when they have their own landing. Had to make a complaint to LU Accommodations. You know, lodge complaint instead of speaking to said neighbour directly, the Singaporean way. What, they’re like thrice my size let’s all be smart and avoid physical confrontation.

20150504_175215 (1280x720)

They use their own landing to smoke, and also play basketball every day around 3 pm in the afternoon.

Once, they had a drinking party till late. They quietened down around 2 plus, but later at 5 am they were running around and screaming outside. Which immediately woke me up. Next morning at 8am, I closed the door to my room and blasted techno Jolin Tsai and Elva Hsiao songs with my x-mini sticking so close to the wall separating our apartments it vibrated so hard it fell off the table (Thanks Jolin and Elva!). They didn’t have a party again.



5. Your dorm is probably going to be pretty disgusting 



Even with clean-up duties and roster, it’s most likely going to be like:



Unless you opt for an apartment, the mess you’re dealing with most likely won’t be your own.

6. School is a waste of time



Yep, you heard me. Half the mods I took during exchange were teaching content that I already knew, and the other half I could have Googled it.

7. Your friends will inevitably drive you crazy



Travelling with a group is never easy. You never know how the dynamics would be like. Sometimes friends will drive you crazy and get on your nerves, just because.



Sometimes travelling together can even break friendships. They say you don’t really know someone till you’ve travelled with them.

8. You’ll feel like you don’t belong



Not only does coming from a different race and having a different skin tone makes fitting in harder (side note: why should it anyway?), given the temporal boundaries of this exchange it’s difficult to even scratch the surface of the local culture. People tend to stick with people who look, act and dress like them and the mods you’ll take are likely for exchange students, so chances are you’re probably not going to be close with the local students anyway.

9. Plans fall through all the time



Missed a flight? (Case in point much) Bus that comes every hour didn’t want to stop for you? Shops are already closed? Someone ripped you off? Wet weather on a beach day? Murphy’s law, guys. It’s nothing new.

But remember, what you choose to do when that happens can make or break your trip.



Therefore, I’m making my last point this:

10. Yet all these make coming home even sweeter 



Nothing beats being home after being on a long adventure.

I hope you enjoyed this longwinded post haha. For those of you going on exchange, I hope I gave you a more balanced idea of what to expect. And for those of you who went, I hope some of these resonated with you!

If you’re currently wondering whether to go on exchange or not, let us part on this note:





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