Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 2 back in Singapore

Week 2 in Singapore complete; 2 more weeks to go. Another week gone but not much new to write about. I went into the office a few days this week to work on my paper but I also found our office has a pool on the sixth floor so I used that twice this week. I went to the SMU (Singapore Management University) gym twice this week as well. I began looking at Graduate School programs for a Masters in Education and bought the 2015 Gruber Complete GRE Prep and have worked through about 100 of the 700 pages so far. I am happy to say that my reading score (in comparison) to the SAT has sky-rocket. However, the math (which is all high school algebra, trig, geometry) actually went down a little because I have not been practicing those topics much lately. However, when I took a second diagnostic math test I scored 1 away from a perfect score. This would actually be a nice place to ask for some opinions. If I get into Match Core in Boston that is my plan because they pay you while you get your masters in Boston. However, if I do not get into that program I have debated taking a few (2-3) years off to teach and gain some experience before going back to school and maybe try and get a second masters in Policy or a PhD even. What do you all think? 

As for things I am doing here. Friday night the 9th floor staff (my center and the one next door) went to a Korean Barbecue place. The picture of the menu is from there. The idea is that you pick what you want (really anything) and they grill it for 1-2 dollars on a stick and it is all you can eat. It adds up quick though I ended up paying 20 for just food (20 skewers with veggies, bread, meat and a bowl of rice) plus 17 for my Chinese double beer (also pictured below). Compared to local street food that can cost between 4-5 dollars and fill you up just as well. Needless to say that explains the other picture of cheese, crackers and salami that was the next two meals. Also, in great news we (Anne and I) have a working fridge again so I have been able to buy small amounts of perishable foods instead of eating out every meal.

I also officially feel as part of the Singaporean community. Through my interactions and gradual acceptance as a member of the community and my experience visiting different temples I feel like I am part of this community. Most of the neighborhood children and small ones on the bus have began calling me Uncle. The general rule is you are expected to call any male at least 20 years older than you Uncle and woman Aunti in Singapore. It is a sign of respect for the generations before you and what they have done to advance the community. Starting this week (maybe due to my beard) small children who I had become friends with in the community and were under 10 years old began calling me Uncle. One specific account was one morning as I got out of the lift and was walking to the bus stop I passed by a young kid (no older than 5) who lived in the complex and I had met him earlier last week at the park turned to his mother and smiled and said, "Uncle fixed his beard, he looks much better." He then asked me, "Does it feel different?". I have also visited both Sikh and Hindi Temples in the last week.

At both temples I was to remove my shoes before entering. This is a part of many eastern religions and the reason being is that the temple is a home of the divine and to wear shoes and bring dirt into any house (but especially the house of the divine) is disrespectful. At the Sikh temple I also was asked to wear a head covering and to wash my hands upon entering. What I experienced in both (other than seeing locals praying) was a very strong sense of community. At the Sikh temple after Dr. Singh said a prayer we went to the dinning hall area. Here as we had a cup of tea he explained to me that the Sikh temple wants both worshipers and non worshipers to know that they can come for tea and a home cooked meal whenever they need it. As for the Hindu temple both individuals but more so large groups praying together and holding circular candles and flower offerings. Many prayed together to show a sense of the strength of community being stronger than that of one individual. The first 9 pictures are from the Hindi Temple and the last 2 from the Sikh Temple.

Outside of Hindu Temple

Outside of Hindi Temple

A pillar holding up temple

Another bright statue

Bright statue

One of many bright statues


The golden door with bells

Lobby of Seek Temple

Inside a Seek Temple

In an unrelated transition likely due to the beard, I should have started asking people for 1 dollar every time they ask if I am Muslim or want to know where the nearest mosque is. I would have a little under $100 in the last two weeks. Most comically was the little Chinese girl below (pictured with two Indian boys) who asked me why my God was named Allah and then asked Uncle if she could have his seat because she was tired from her day at school. 

Well, there really isn't much else new to report other than these few things so here are some pictures.

View from 6th floor of Office

View from 6th floor of Office

6th floor of Office also has games

6th floor relaxation area

Little kids on the bus
Most streets have street cleaners

For my friends who take pics and drive



View from Floor 6





Morning Inspiration at Work

Morning Inspiration at Work

Neat Restaurant Idea 

Learned to use Chopsticks

While drinking Chinese Beer

Nobody wanted the fountain :(

"Homemade"/ "Money Saver" Dinner

The mosque every local asks if I go to

Ghandi Restaurant--- Aka greatest Indian Food I have ever had not made by Grandma

For 8 dollars I had two cups of rice, 2 cups of lamb, bread, 2 cups of veggies (mostly potatoes) and fresh mango juice

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 1 back in Singapore

Hello again everyone,

I am still alive, despite the almost one week gap between posts. I really have not done much too much hence the gap between posts. Every few days I go into SMU (Singapore Management University) and spend a few hours working on my summer thesis (community values and how they relate to education). If you have talked to me recently (in the last week) it was also on a day that I went into SMU. Why? Because my new apartment has no WiFi. I am now living with Ann who is an event assistant/secretary for Dr. Singh. She lives in an older but nicer part of the city. First it is much quieter due to less traffic then the center of city. Also, with no MRT train station and instead only a bus station there is less noise. Secondly, the area is much more diverse (within a 3 minute walk there are Buddhist and Taoist Temples, Mosques and Churches). On days that I do not go to SMU, I have explored the neighborhood, worked on the paper from my room and began reading the Qu'ran. I have made some friends at work. Most notably a Princeton Graduate who work in the office of Special Projects with the President named John and a Northwestern Graduate named Natalia. I have met many other IVY league grads (Max and Neil to name a few) who are friends with John. Singapore seem to be the happening place for recent high achieving college graduates who can work right away and then go back to Grad School in a few years (John, Max and Natalia's plan). I also have learned the bus system (after getting lost twice). I finally caved and bought a local cell phone so I can call my friends here and make plans rather than only communicate with them when I can get WiFi to check my email. I also learned my work ID can get me into the gym so I am planning to lift 2-3 times a week. I really do not have much to report so here are a good amount of pictures that I have taken.

I saw this today and am seriously considering it

Gym bench told me to cover it

Mall promotes Selfies with their artsy benches 

Purse Bench

High Heel Bench

Watch Bench

Bow Tie Bench

Bow Tie Bench Break

Sun Glasses Bench

Bus Routes and Times

Dinner a few nights Ago
Technically not part of my trip unless you include the fact that I have been talking to all of you a lot more since getting back to Singapore. But Arielle and her love for monkeys is quite funny and needed to be mentioned.
Arielle likes monkey pictures

A piece in the art museum 

Description of hair piece

Another piece in art museum 

We went to a benefits concert (electric  ukulele)

Dinner at the concert

John and I (Natalia in background) toasting

I guess I am a Punk now?

Park with two temples in back

Escalators done right

Caved and got a local cell
Today's thank you shout out (we have not done one of these in a while) goes to no other than Mr. Ric Norton. Chances are he won't see this but that is not important. Ric was my first boss, when i worked at Swiss Valley Ski Resort in Jones, Michigan as a teen. He taught me the importance of giving everything 110% 100% of the time, He taught me about the importance of doing things you love despite money or any other factors and Ric and Swiss was my second home, my second family. I hope my children will be skiing and snowboarding as soon as possible so they can meet Ric and the Swiss crew. Every time I go back to Swiss now Ric treats me like his son giving me a free lift ticket, a lunch voucher and even asking me to work with the new instructors. Who knows, maybe someday I can "work" at Swiss when/if I retire.