News - March 27, 2020

‘No one cares about privacy here’

Who? Laura Savonije (22), BSc student of Environmental Sciences
What? Minor at the Asian School of Environment
Where? Singapore

Text Monique van Schie

‘To round off my Bachelor’s in Environmental Sciences I took courses at the Asian School of Environment in Singapore. I came here because I wanted to find out more about volcanoes and natural disasters, but also to learn to understand the Asian perspective on the environment better. And I couldn’t think of a better combination of courses than Tropical Ecology and a course about the ocean! In terms of education, it is almost identical to Wageningen – they even seem to have used each other’s slides. But life here on campus is different to the Netherlands. It feels like you are spending six months on a campsite, especially in this tropical climate.’

Miniature Asia

‘Singapore is the most westernized country in Asia. It is highly developed and they keep on building, but they certainly don’t forget about greenery in the city. You can find everything Asian in Singapore: every hundred metres you seem to be in a different country, like Malaysia, India, China, the Middle East, or wherever you can think of. You can travel all around the city with your student card, through the different neighbourhoods. And you can suddenly find yourself in a rain forest or one of the many parks.’

Hard work

‘Most of my group projects are in the start-up phase, but the locals are really fanatical, I’m told. For example, my Dutch roommate here had a Skype meeting at 11:30 on a Friday night to put together a PowerPoint presentation of a research proposal. You can’t imagine that happening in the Netherlands. Singlish – the local English that everyone speaks here – can be hard to follow at times.’

Coronavirus outbreak

‘Because of the coronavirus, we have to report our temperature twice a day, lectures were cancelled and tests had to be done online. Because there is so much surveillance in Singapore, they have been very successful in combatting the virus, but you have no privacy at all in this country and no one seems to care about privacy either. We are so amazingly free in the Netherlands, actually. We are no longer allowed to visit certain countries from Singapore, and I hope that by the end of the semester we can go everywhere without being put in quarantine. Because you can get to Malaysia in no time by bus, or to Indonesia by boat. And if you can put your flight shame on hold, you can see all South-East Asia in one semester!’

Do you too have a nice story about your internship or thesis research abroad?