Sometimes along a Singaporean’s journey on their educational path, we come to an awkward period of time where we are neither studying nor working, whether by choice or by circumstance. There may be a month’s break between school semesters for example, and all the part time jobs you enquire about require a commitment period of at least three months.
Personally, in December 2016 after I was done with my final semester in my mass communication diploma, my intention was score a few months’ worth of internship at a local media production company, as I was worried about a ‘skill gap’, a common problem employers face with millenial graduates nowadays.
That plan didn’t materialize, as almost every lead I wrote in to did not even bother to reply to my enquiry of query of internships. The only one which replied to me was Mediacorp, and Mediacorp was helpful enough to entertain my additional queries that while they only accept university undergraduates, yes they do accept from private universities in SIngapore as well and that I can try again when I’m done with my Northumbria degree. Which is something I seriously do appreciate from Mediacorp, in light of the non-replies from other places. Not that I was expecting anywhere to offer me an internship outright, but a response to say they aren’t looking for interns would be very nice.
With the copious amounts of time I now have until June, I’ve spent a lot of time doing stuff I normally won’t do as much if I were studying.
This blog post is a list of suggestions a non-working student can do as a local, with minimal monetary expenditure. This is a mini guide where tourist attractions in a conventional travel guide won’t be as applicable and saving money is top priority.
This is also probably the only time when my WordPress and Instagram handle comes into relevance, where Mabel actually goes somewhere.
- Visit museums
If you’re into writing, one can look into free workshops or meetups for writers alike, which you may find periodically from time to time.
Or if you prefer to be a spectator of the arts instead of a participant, visit one of the many museums in Singapore.
Entry fees are free if you’re a local with a pink IC. Even if you’re not, its below $10. If you’re sick of just looking at history, go somewhere else and then treat it like you’re at the museum. Which leads to no. 2.
2. Take a trip to the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands like you’re going to the museum.
To clue in non-Singaporean readers, Marina Bay Sands (MBS for short) is a tourist attraction in Singapore that is centered in our Central Business District. It also houses our country’s only casino, which is also built and supported by our Government to pull in extra revenue.
The Shoppes refer to the many classy retail and dining outlets on the many levels, with an extra -pes at the back to signify polished class and dignity, which is my only guess on the name.
Given that the target market of The Shoppes is probably not middle-class locals, brands such as Audemars Piguet, Agent Provocateur, Carolina Herrera and Van Cleef and Arpels can be found here.
As such, if you appreciate art and design like I do, going to The Shoppes mean a wide slew of eye candy for your eyes.
You get to view the many approaches to design labels make whether it is in timepieces, lingerie, jewelry or perfumery and their dedication to their craft and trade. You may even get clued in on the brand’s history in the process, if you’re curious enough to ask or if you happen to meet a brand representative (layman terms:staff) who is personally enthusiastic in sharing with you about his/her company’s pieces.
At the Shoppes I saw a bunch of jewelry and timepieces which I found myself very fascinated by their attention to small detail and intricate design, although they are things I won’t wear anytime in real life. The Audemars Piguet Millenary 4101 Rose Gold watch pictured above is just one of them.
This is a great fun activity to do if you aren’t prone to envy and impulse buy tendencies. Even if you do have impulse buy tendencies, I’m pretty sure the prices would put discerning budget-watching locals off buying.
I came to tour around The Shoppes after tracking down the location of the only Agent Provacateur store in Singapore which happened to be at MBS, after finding mobile site navigation on the luxury lingerie brand challenging and opting to view their designs in the flesh instead. It’s much more interesting too anyway.
Personally I find it very refreshing and liberating to not see cookie-cutter designs I see everywhere in most local retailers. Besides Agent Provocateur, The Shoppes also houses other brands which take pride in their dedication to their craft.
I happened to walk into Penhaligons, a perfumery based in London, and I’m very glad I did. Stay tuned for a blog post extension about my time there.
I also found out it’s possible to get lost in MBS.
3. Eat Samyeong Hot Chicken Noodle (Fire noodle)
The fad may be over but it doesn’t seem people have stopped eating it, for fun of a challenge (My own mother did the challenge with her younger colleagues during lunch break) or simply because they actually love it (fellow Asians mostly, it seems, from Youtube comments).
I got into the fire noodle craze VERY late (after the fad was already over) and once I ate it, I couldn’t stop and I now eat it about once weekly. Not everyone can handle the kind of spicyness that is Fire Noodle, and honestly a quarter of the time I can’t either, so I’m going to write another blog post in extension about a simple way to enjoy fire noodle without it burning your mouth, lips and tongue. Stay tuned.
4. Eat at the dining places around SMU
I’m very lucky that SMU is just down the street from the Kaplan locations where I studied for my diploma and will be returning to this June for my degree.
Especially when studying, it can be hard to juggle part time work and assignments. So if you’re one of those who doesn’t need to hold down a part time job to pay for household utilities, saving money while having a good time will be your top priority, and getting the best value out of everything, especially food.
It’s no secret that dining places in educational institutions are reasonably priced, and The Tea Party at SMU is now a very popular spot for working adults and students alike. Their pastas are mostly at SGD4.80, $6 if you’re going for baked mac and cheese, and all comes with a free iced tea. If you decline your ice tea, they would likely politely offer you water. Sometimes I swap my iced tea for water simply because I don’t wish to dehydrate myself during the course of the day where I may already have consumed coffee or tea prior.
Pictures taken by me, off my own Instagram. Pictures speak a thousand words on what my Tea Party preferences are. (Left: Prawn aglio, Right: Carbonara)
It’s not just about budgeting. I eat there all the time because I’m genuinely hooked on their pastas. Besides Tea Party there’s also a beer burger bistro at B3 of SMU at a adjacent buildingas well, which I’ve yet to try.
I may write a Part 2 of this blog post if and when I find more free, fun things to do in future. But for now, this is what one can do with minimal spending of money as a local in Singapore.