INSEAD’s MBA programme offers two starting locations – the Asia campus in Singapore and the Europe campus in Fontainebleau, France. The way of life between the two locations varies widely, so for those who are unfamiliar with Singapore, here are 10 things to know about this little island on the world map.
1) A diverse society
Singapore has a multicultural society with four major ethnicity – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian. English is the first language and there is a mother tongue for each of these ethnicity. This unique makeup of Singapore’s social fabric also enabled the country to flourish in international trade and tourism.
2) Singapore is a tiny giant
Despite being one of the smallest countries in the world and in the region, Singapore commands an enormous presence in the world today as a global commerce, financial and transportation hub with top-ranking brands such as the Singapore Airlines and Marina Bay Sands. It was also ranked Asia’s top financial hub in 2016, further adding on to the advantages of pursuing a master degree or advancing your career here.
3) Getting around is easy breezy
Singapore has one of the best transport systems in the world. Trains typically run from 5.30 am to midnight. Singapore’s trains and stations are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly and easily accessible for the visually impaired. If you choose to explore Singapore by bus, there is an excellent network of air-conditioned buses. Taxis are readily available and are chargeable by metered fare, and mobile app car services are also widely used. INSEAD’s Asia campus is conveniently located right beside the one-north train station and is a short 20-minute drive from the Central Business District area.
4) An umbrella will be handy
While Singapore’s infrastructures are largely “rain-proof” with underground and sheltered walkways that connect train stations and bus stops to buildings, having an umbrella at hand will be helpful especially as rainfall usually takes the form of sudden showers and storms. Singapore is hot and humid all year-round, with temperatures usually reaching over 30°C. During cooler months at the year-end, you can expect prolonged periods of rain.
5) Food is a major highlight
Singapore’s diverse culture also spells a melting pot of all sorts of Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Peranakan, Indian, Thai, Japanese and more. These delectable food choices are available across Singapore’s vast array of hawker stalls and restaurants that range from global franchises to gourmet delis to fancy six-star settings. And there are also the seemingly endless food promotions and food tours that run throughout the year, including the Singapore Food Festival in July. Some of the must-try local dishes include Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab, Indian/Chinese Rojak, Laksa, Mee Rebus, Nasi Lemak and Roti Prata.
6) Stay hydrated
Water in Singapore is safe enough to drink directly from the tap. Nonetheless, it is still advisable to boil or filter tap water for consumption, just to be safe. Given Singapore’s humid weather, it is also best to keep hydrated as much as possible.
7) A vibrant city
You will find an active night scene in Singapore with popular after-hours areas coming alive such as Clarke Quay and Boat Quay. Twenty-four hours fast food outlets and supermarkets are also available at various parts of the island. A 10-minute walk from INSEAD’s Asia campus is One Rochester Park, an enclave of colonial houses where you will find a variety of dining options amidst lush greenery; ideal for an evening out with family and friends.
8) Tip on tips
It is not usual practice to tip in Singapore, although service staff appreciate it. Most hotels and restaurants quote prices as “++,” which includes 10% service charge and 7% goods and services tax (GST).
9) UNESCO World Heritage Site
The popular Sentosa Island and Orchard Road aside, another amazing place to visit in Singapore is the Singapore Botanic Gardens – the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO's World Heritage List! The Botanic Gardens is a haven for nature lovers, housing a spectacular collection of plant species and walking trails suitable for people of all ages. Throughout the year, there are performances and concerts at the open-air amphitheatre, offering a different experience under the stars. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a mere 7-minutes train ride away from INSEAD’s campus!
10) Explore Asia
Singapore’s close proximity to other South East Asian countries means that it is a gateway to popular beach paradise destinations such as Bali, Indonesia or Phuket, Thailand, which are mere 2-hour flights away. UNESCO sites such as Angkor Wat and Borobudur Temple are also easily accessible. For those who prefer a road trip, Singapore is connected to its neighbouring country Malaysia by two causeways, which means you can spend a weekend exploring Malaysia by car.
Interested to know more about life at INSEAD’s Europe Campus? Read Studying in Fontainebleau: 10 Things to Know Before Moving Over
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