Friday, October 2, 2009

I guess this makes it officially a blog

Because according to Coach, up until now this was only an "article" and not a "blog," so thank you Coach for inspiring me to upgrade to blogger status.

Now that I've been here a week, I've begun to get a grip on how things work here. There's a couple things here so far that stand out in my mind right now, and they are: the transportation system, the food, and my job.

The most brilliant thing about Singapore is the public transportation system. It is psychotically easy to get around the city with the bus system, because it is the most well organized public transportation unit I have ever experienced. Basically, there are about 15-20 different bus lines, and at each bus stop, there is a list of the buses that service that station with the list of future and past stations serviced by each bus. In addition, using the website, you can find the exact bus route from any spot in Singapore to any other, and the best part is that you can take a 45 minute bus ride for about S$1.00 (US $.65). It's so cheap, you'd wonder why anyone in Singapore would buy a car (especially since it costs S$15,000 to buy a license of entitlement BEFORE you even can purchase a car).

Second, the food has been unreal. Singapore is a crossroads for an eclectic mix of ethnic groups, including Chinese, Malay, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, and others, including Muslim. That being said, the mainstay of the Singapore dining experience is the "hawker center," or outdoor markets comprised of a multitude of independent shops each selling a specialized cuisine. You can go to one location and get Thai chicken satay, Indian dosai (my personal favorite), roti prata (also amazing), chicken rice, breaded pork curry, and soooo many other options. What's more, you will stuff your face for less than S$5.00, and often for less than S$3.00. As the renowned "fat kid," I am more than in culinary heaven here. Just see below (I don't even know what I'm eating in this picture...):

Finally, my job. I'm working as an international lecturer in the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which is basically a second-tier pre-university education facility. The Singapore education system is extremely track oriented, and the polytechnics are for those students who don't score well enough on their O-level exams (the equivalent of the SAT, except with much stronger consequences) to place into the University track. These students graduate from the Polytechnic and enter directly into the workforce and basically have almost no chance of admission into a university or other higher degree program.

So I'm teaching Cell and Molecular Biology to first year Pharmacy Science students (17-18 years old) as well as Microbiology to first year Biomedical Science students. I'm responsible for 3 hours of lecture, 3 hours of lab, and 1 hour of "tutorial" (precept for the Pton people), plus 9 hours of lab for the Microbiology class per week. For some reason, the staff at Ngee Ann thinks I'm the most qualified person for my job ever (I'm not), and they think I'm the most exciting thing to happen to this deparment in a decade. But realistically, I have little to no experience in a microbiology lab, and no formal teaching training, so I will be learning a lot as I go in the next couple of weeks. I look forward to the challenge though, and hopefully I can stay one step ahead of my students at all times.

That's it for now, I have a couple exciting events coming up which I'll update once they happen.

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