A broad, Abroad
Post by Lana Le, who spent a semester studying abroad in Singapore. Click here to learn about the many opportunities to travel abroad at Babson.
Last year, I was granted the opportunity to study for a semester abroad at Singapore Management University. This experience not only gave me the chance to explore and live in a different country, but also experience third-world countries within Southeast Asia.
During my 4 months studying in Singapore, I was able to travel to Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. These countries are dramatically different from Singapore or the United States. Traveling to these third world countries was an extreme culture shock but at the same time, very eye-opening and dramatically increased my adaptability. Traveling around this part of the world made me experience different ways of life. While we often learn about these countries or view things over the media, being immersed in the culture and lifestyles of these countries was something truly different.
I remember Cambodia was the first country that I traveled to while living in Singapore. My friends and I booked roughly a 2 hour flight to Phnom Penh (the capital) and within the two hours, our environments changed dramatically. Even though I knew that Cambodia was a third-world country, I assumed that the capital would have a less shocking experience. However, immediately upon arrival, we noticed the vast changes in where we were 2 hours ago versus our current environment.
Firstly, the roads were filled with people driving mopeds as oppose to cars. There was very little regard for traffic rules, people were cutting in front of others, and it seemed almost impossible to even cross the road. There was an abundant array of vendors sprawled across the streets selling food and other products. The fast-paced, busy nature was far different from anything I’ve experienced in any city in the United States or Singapore.
Despite these vast differences, the beauty of these countries was still overwhelming. I observed beautiful architecture, ate amazing food, and experienced local culture through engaging in conversation with locals. Although adjustment was difficult at times, I was able to push my boundaries and truly enhance my adaptability through being in such different environments. Things such as limited communication with locals, navigation through hectic streets, and being aware of my surroundings were challenges that promoted personal growth. Through my travels abroad, I learned how to embrace different ways of life and understand the beauty in each.