Summer in Singapore

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Stephanie H. Tran Rojas, NUR ’20

This summer I used the Career Services summer funding to work abroad in Singapore as Editorial Associate Intern with the Lien Centre for Social Innovation under the Lien Foundation. I worked out of Singapore Management University in the Central Business District and lived in the Little India districts of Singapore. I lived as a local during my time without holding back my desire for adventure. I can thank the generous funding from my donors for opening more educational and mind-opening opportunities without the constraints of financial barriers.

When not working, I constantly pushed myself by trying new foods and experiences. I have done a wide range of activities while in Singapore, including going for a weekend trip in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. When I went on my own mini-excursion to Johor Bahru, I truly put my sense of independence to the test. The first and most terrifying thing I did on that weekend getaway to Johor Bahru, Malaysia was go off-roading for the first time. I went with Tristan Park, an off-roading company that offers guided off-roading for riders on various trails in the farming outskirts of the city. Being someone who has not even really done sports, let alone extreme sports, the concept of going off-roading has always been interesting and exciting but unrealistic. However, with no obstacles realistically keeping me from trying this new activity, I knew I wanted to push myself into this scary unknown no matter what. I find that while traveling new, unusual opportunities become available and it’s a matter of courage and trust to take them.

When you have the security of funding behind you, it becomes easier to break out of your comfort zone. It is because I have the knowledge that I do not have to worry as such about limitations with external and, instead, instead focus on just experimenting fearlessly.

My first time really pushing the envelope was with Geylang Adventures, a local social enterprise exploring the often-misunderstood district. My intern coworkers and I received a night walking tour that lasted three and a half hours, and we saw the underbelly of the district from a local’s perspective. Our guide was a local graduate student who grew up in Geylang. He explained the history behind the current state of Geylang, from the impact of the historical Little India riot to the types of illegal activity conducted openly in the area. I saw it all, from the brothels in and out of the legalized red-light district to the subtle attributes of the environment purposely designed for either security, social, or business reasons.

To my surprise, the tour was completely safe and informal, without once causing tension with the locals. This openness allowed our tour group this unique learning opportunity. In attending this tour, I took a chance and put trust in my guides to keep our group safe. In the end, I walked away with a very comprehensive understanding of the hidden industries of the normally clean-cut country.

Each time, I was brave in chasing unprecedented opportunity because of numerous support from others that made my amazing experiences abroad possible. Without this help, I could not imagine as an unforgettable summer as I had.

Author: Student Perspective

Views and opinions from current Penn students.