The Trials of Pre-Departure – Drexel Schooling Out of the country

(December 30, 2021)

Even though I haven’t but bodily commenced my adventure to Singapore, making ready for this commute has been relatively the adventure in itself. As I lie right here in mattress at 1AM on Thursday, December 30, the primary day of the lengthy 31-hour adventure forward, the truth is starting to hit me – I’ll be beginning off the brand new yr in a brand new nation, 9,500 miles clear of house. 

And I will simplest hope that each one my exhausting paintings to get there can pay off, and that the whole thing is going in step with plan.

For a fast creation: My title is Andrea Eleazar and I’m a third-year junior finding out Public Well being, with minors in Bioinformatics and Asian Research and a certificates in Technical Writing. I’m additionally a 2021 Gilman Student and Freeman-ASIA Student, in addition to a recipient of the Range Scholarship from Drexel Find out about Out of the country. I’ll be spending this spring semester/wintry weather quarter 2022 as a Biomedical Sciences primary at Nanyang Technological College (NTU) in Singapore thru their GEM Trailblazer Trade; I will’t wait to proportion my time in Singapore with you all!

Why Singapore?

Entering faculty, I felt relatively resolved in my aim to check out of the country. In truth, going out of the country used to be one of the most first actual targets I had made for myself. I’ve all the time been all in favour of studying about other languages and cultures, which additional advanced thru an alternate in Germany and a summer season provider studying program in South Africa throughout highschool. Although I become a World Engagement Student at Drexel and feature had the chance to take part in a couple of globally-oriented occasions and lessons, I nonetheless craved some kind of exact world revel in, whether or not thru an extensive path out of the country (ICA) or an entire time period out of the country. I attended a Find out about Out of the country 101 consultation throughout Welcome Week of my freshman yr, the place I to start with made up our minds {that a} momentary ICA would suffice to succeed in this purpose. Alternatively, because the pandemic struck and pressed thru 2020, I started to entertain the theory of going out of the country for a complete semester. Whilst I loved the construction and familiarity of my regimen at house, I discovered myself starting to crave for one thing new, like experiencing lifestyles abroad. After months of being cooped up at house, straining my eyes in on-line categories for the foreseeable long run, it appeared like essentially the most opportune time to take a go away from Zoom College.

With two reports in Europe and Africa beneath my belt, Asia used to be subsequent on my radar, particularly Southeast Asia. I’d been in need of to go back there for some time since visiting the Philippines in 2007 to peer circle of relatives. As the one Drexel program introduced in Southeast Asia, Singapore specifically stuck my consideration as a result of its wealthy cultural variety. As the center of Southeast Asia positioned simply south of Malaysia, the tiny city-state lies on the crossroads of East and South Asia, with Chinese language, Malays, and Indians comprising its primary ethnic teams. The dynamism of being surrounded by way of other cultures used to be one thing I truly liked on my South Africa commute, and I watch for a identical revel in in Singapore. I’m hoping to lead my studying thru immersion within the more than a few cultures, in addition to merely looking at the day by day coexistence of those communities in Singaporean society – the basis in their younger country. In any case, being Southeast Asian myself, I felt that Singapore will be the best possible position to start out diving into the historical past of my very own roots. In the end, at its core, Singapore is an amalgam of custom and modernity with its popularity as a technologically complicated metropolis. When researching Singapore, I felt that town displays the creativity and interest that propel society ahead. From city making plans and structure to sustainability, they’re continuously engineering answers to a wide variety of issues in society. They do that whilst maximizing their sources within the reasonably small house of land at their disposal – an outstanding feat. 

So, when the time for programs came visiting in fall 2020, I implemented to a number of Asia systems – Singapore as my first selection, adopted by way of Hong Kong, then South Korea. My learn about out of the country guide, Younger-Min, did warn me that the Asia systems had been a few of the best. Heeding this caution, I implemented with reduced expectancies. In about overdue February/early March 2021, to my marvel, I won notification from Drexel of my legit nomination to check at NTU for Fall 2021. Although I authorized that I most certainly wouldn’t have the similar revel in as previous alternate scholars (e.g. touring to close by nations in Southeast Asia throughout time period recess, experiencing the Singapore nightlife), I used to be more than pleased to get to completely discover all that town has to supply. Most likely maximum of all, I used to be glad that I’d get to transport on from the stagnant process lifestyles in the United States and take advantage of those another way unheard of occasions by way of enjoyable one among my long-time faculty targets.

The Adventure Prior to the Adventure

The thrill of leaving the pandemic-stricken states to visit Singapore used to be short-lived. About two weeks after receiving my legit determination from Drexel, I won phrase that NTU had canceled inbound and outbound alternate for the Fall 2021 time period – about 5 months prematurely of the semester.

Slightly hasty, isn’t it? used to be my preliminary response to the inside track. So much can trade in 5 months… 

I promptly met with my learn about out of the country guide Younger-Min over a Zoom name, the place he offered me with two choices: to withdraw my utility or to defer my program to the wintry weather time period. As a 4-year scholar, the latter choice could be my ultimate alternative to check out of the country, however would even have a primary trade-off: it could abbreviate my one and simplest co-op, as NTU’s semester does no longer precisely align with Drexel’s quarter device. Regardless of this dilemma, I figured there used to be not anything to lose by way of ready out the location just a little longer.

As for the rest of 2021…it used to be full of uncertainty, as though using thru a thick fog, not able to watch for any hindrances forward. I used to be simply in it for the journey. Over the spring and summer season, I attempted to not worry myself an excessive amount of with case counts, Singapore’s COVID scenario, and so on., however with the ready sport having been the longest segment of the method, I discovered myself already exhausted by the point the actual paintings started. NTU hadn’t decided to renew inbound alternate till October (which used to be additionally round the similar time Singapore used to be seeing a unexpected spike in circumstances – every other purpose for worry). Because of the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic and the hot emergence of the omicron variant, my commute in truth hadn’t been finalized till the start of December, i.e. just a few weeks in the past. Each and every step of the method of making ready to visit Singapore has been one fear after every other: collecting the entire essential documentation for access; no longer understanding if I used to be allotted on-campus housing till 12 days in the past (and to be assigned the possibly worst flooring plan at that, a double room with out a A/C); discovering a co-op employer who could be prepared to house my adjusted timeline once I go back; even restricting my social gatherings with family and friends this vacation season to be able to no longer most likely reveal myself to COVID, which might straight away undo all the paintings I’ve carried out to get right here. With such last-minute preparations, I in finding that a lot of my pleasure has dissipated, most commonly overtaken by way of anxiousness and rigidity. To not point out, this commute might be other from my earlier journeys, the place I had traveled with teams. This might be my first time weaving thru an airport, flying over the seas, and navigating an unfamiliar nation by myself. Reasonably frankly, I haven’t had the time to offer a lot concept to what I need to see and revel in in Singapore, nor procedure the truth that I’ve simply began to regulate to residing again at Drexel however now leaving once more for 4 months, nor plan the whole thing out like I most often do. At this level, I’m merely determined to make it into the rustic with out a problems.

There have without a doubt been occasions the place I felt discouraged, questioning if I will have to simply surrender in this pursuit. The pandemic is unrelenting and out of my very own particular person keep an eye on; I wasn’t ready to say the 2 considerable learn about out of the country scholarships I were awarded because of COVID/logistics problems; the co-op procedure had simplest begun, and having interviews on best of research out of the country preparation AND a complete courseload made the autumn time period, to position it merely, a ache. This semester, I’ll even be the lone Drexel consultant at NTU – which isn’t essentially a nasty factor, however I do watch for having to do just a little extra paintings in relation to socializing and making pals, which is already one among my private weaknesses as one that’s quite introverted and shy by way of nature.

Regardless, I used to be/am decided to sooner or later in finding myself at the different facet (literally- of the arena). After I recall the thrill I felt upon studying my acceptance e mail, admiring footage of the Singapore panorama, surfing in the course of the NTU web page, and looking at “an afternoon in my lifestyles” vlogs by way of NTU scholars, I’m reminded of my motivation to check out of the country within the first position. Revisiting my utility essays for this system and the learn about out of the country scholarships I earned rekindled my need to peer the Lion Town. And a big WhatsApp crew chat with over 100 fellow incoming alternate scholars from world wide served as an extra make stronger device, jointly commiserating over this long procedure and serving to every different out. However possibly one of the most greatest motivators for me within the ultimate stretch used to be the truth that I started this complete procedure in fall 2020. Having plowed thru 5 consecutive quarters of categories, I felt that I’d concerned myself so deeply within the procedure and persisted such a lot to drop out now.

The Itinerary

I go away from New York this night, 12/30/21, and can arrive in Frankfurt, Germany at the morning of 12/31. After a 12 hour layover, I’ll in the end go away for my ultimate vacation spot, the place I’ll be ringing within the new yr: Singapore. And despite the fact that all of those components and unknowns have put a damper on my pleasure for now, I additionally really feel decided to take advantage of this long-anticipated revel in.

But even so, there’s all the time the relaxation of getting a two-way price tag.

A Message from the Place of job of World Engagement:

The security and safety of Drexel scholars is a concern for the College. As a part of the efforts to make stronger Drexel scholars which can be finding out out of the country throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Place of job of World Engagement has performed a rigorous evaluate of programming and equipped further make stronger to taking part scholars with custom designed pre-departure orientations and common check-ins throughout the specified self-isolation duration and the time period.


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