Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Les Jardins de Singapour (The Gardens of Singapore)

It is said that in French, everything sounds pretty, and hence the title. Singapore has all the essential qualities of the language itself. If you’re a person who likes flora, this island is a rare mix of equatorial beauty with modern infrastructure.

Singapore is essentially an equatorial rainforest. Parts of it have been commercialized over the colonial and later the development phase. However, till date, about a third of the republic is still considered to be covered by forests. That’s staggeringly high for such a densely populous land. This hasn’t come easy for Singapore. The vision of a Garden City started out way back in 1963 under the leadership of hon. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, under the Tree Planting Campaign.

Citizen and administrative efforts, led to the planned and picturesque city that we witness today. Singapore boasts of wonderfully landscaped gardens all across the island. The most note worthy, and a personal favorite is the Singapore Botanic Gardens. In fact, I took a few snippets of the introductory video for LifeOnCampus at the botanic gardens itself.

Established in 1859, the garden celebrates its 150th birthday this year. An ideal place for sightseeing, picnics and relaxation, the gardens are conveniently located near Orchard, the heart of the city. The garden offers vast pastures of landscaped finesse and is home to an orchid garden, ginger garden, many famous sculptures and even a swan lake. You can find out more about it by clicking HERE.

Another personal recommendation is the East Coast Park (ECP). The park stretches lengthwise over at least 4km if I recall well. As the name suggests, the park stretches along the beautiful east coast of the island offering views of harboring ships in the horizon.

This is a favorite getaway for families, thanks to the wide range of activities that ECP offers. You can hire bicycles or roller skates at very affordable hourly rates or if you’re the more adventurous type, don’t miss the wakeboarding arena (Splash 360) located in Zone E of the park. ECP also provides barbeque pits at very affordable prices (about 15 dollars for 20 hours!). Just get your food and fuel, and you can have your own beach party. Besides you can also hire chalets for the entire weekend. ECP is also home to awesome seafood restaurants and bars that play live music. The bowling alley, too, is a popular feature at the park.

These are not the only green getaways in Singapore. You can find an entire list of parks, activities, events and concerts at the National Parks homepage.
You can find a lot of information about the Garden City on the portal.

So pack them picnic bags and head out to a park near you, and yea, don’t forget the Frisbee J

(All pictures courtesy NParks portal, URL: http://www.nparks.gov.sg)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Hitchhiker's Guide to Singapore

Most of Singapore (universities) is done with exams. This is the time of the year when students flock home or for summer internships. The summer school at LSE (London School of Economics) too, is a favorite choice.This is also the time when exchange students from other countries come down to Singapore, for a tropical fresh breath. For those who want to make a trip down to Singapore, as a summer intern or a prospective student, there’s a lot you can do here.
So let’s get started. As any hitchhiker needs a survival kit, here’s a list of things that you can’t do without:
  • A map of important Landmarks

Smart travelers are adept navigators. Singapore is a well planned city, and directions are not hard to find. There’s also a lot of free maps available at the Airport or at many of the Visitor’s Centers by STB (Singapore Tourism Board). Click here to find a visitor center near you.
  • Comfortable footwear and clothing

If you’re a city trotter, get ready to walk the walk. Cotton clothes help you beat the heat and go the distance. Carry a backpack for those devices (ipods et al) that you can’t let go of and don’t forget to carry some water. At most places in Singapore, you can dine in casual clothes, barring fine diners and night clubs.

  • The Campus Tour
    Most schools would love to show you around. I would suggest calling/emailing them in advance and scheduling a campus tour. People in Singapore are very homely and helpful.
    Always carry a notepad to jot down important information and directions. Carrying a name card (visiting card) always helps.
  • Uniquely Singapore
    Besides, you might also want to explore the cultural side of Singapore. The public transport system is very convenient. Buses and trains are available from 6am to midnight.
    Make a list of things you’re interested in and create a rough itinerary.
    You can find comprehensive information here.
  • Must haves
    Some stuff you might need in your armory to move about:
  1. EZ Link Card – When I first came here, I was told that this card is the lifeline of Singapore. I smirked. Later, I realized what they meant. Be it a bus, train or even a Big Gulp at a 7 Eleven Store, an EZ Link card does it all. This pre-loaded cash card can be purchased at any of the MRT (train) stations and is a must have!
  2. A pre-paid phone – You can buy a pre-paid phone SIM for as low as 8 SGD, if I recall correctly. Singapore uses GSM telephony, so any GSM phone will support a Singapore SIM Card. Finding a local pay phone can sometimes be a pain, so this might just be a worthy investment. Calling rates are pretty much the same for all 3 mobile providers (SingTel, StarHub and M1) and they’re all equally efficient.
  3. Water Repellent – It rains without warning. Anytime and any day, be set to pull out that umbrella like a magic wand to ward off the rain. Foldable, compact umbrellas can be bought at most of the general stores and malls in Singapore.

That sums up our Getaway Guide 001, stay tuned for more. If you have any specific questions about traveling to or within Singapore, please leave a question in the comment box below.

Happy Hitchhiking!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Discovering the MBA advantage!

On my time off, I set off from a world of academic overdose into magical India. To the fantastic Tata Crucible International Finals. And, here I am, back to share my one-of-a-kind experience with all you wonderful readers.
The Tata Crucible International Finals proved to be a tremendous learning experience for me. One thing I learn about was the MBA, or the Masters in Business Administration. The degree has established itself as the quintessential tool in any manager’s (or aspiring manager’s) toolkit. It is highly sought after by recruiters around the world.
Experts today cite the economic downturn as leading to several questions and accusations. The economic downturn has seen a perplexed reaction on how business is taught in classrooms and the expensive tuition fees it demands. Experts at the seminar guaranteed that answers to prevailing problems will be found in these very incubators of business talent.
The MBA program is offered by various universities as a general degree or alternatively offer specializations in Marketing, Finance, Information Systems and Human Resources. Additionally, there are MBA programs in Supply Chain Management, Sports Management and even Medicine Management that capture a niche market!
And, what better place to pursue an MBA than Singapore! Singapore is known for its holistic environment and being an Asian business hub with English as the accepted business language it surely makes for an attractive education destination. Efficient public transport and excellent infrastructure is an added advantage and well, if you live in India, South East Asia or even Australia, add the advantage of proximity to your list!
In Singapore, you can pick and choose your various requirements, mode of study, entry pre-requisites and specialisation. The GMAT is widely accepted amongst most B schools but the entry requirements differ depending on the institute you apply to. The next hurdle in the selection process are the interviews and SOPs. That's the tough part! If you'd like to know my experience, leave me a comment!
Otherwise, you can discover more information on Singapore's specialized education portal:
Also, if you'd like to discover an expert opinion, you might want to check this out! UTVi, a national business channel, has done an interesting segment called ‘Cracking Careers’. They recently interviewed students in Singapore and surveyed the advantages of the educational experience in Singapore. View it here: http://www.utvi.com/videoplayer.php?nm=spore1.flv

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Academian Rhapsody - I

I've written quite a few articles about campus life in Singapore, however, someone pointed out that I was yet to write about academics.

Well I guess academics is also an important aspect of student life, isn’t it? I write this post specifically for Undergrads. For students who will graduate out of high schools and junior colleges and have the first bite at the exciting university routine.

To get started, let me tell you, these three or four years of your bachelor’s degree might probably be the most exciting, excruciating and enchanting experience ever. Lots of things change once you reach tertiary education. Your lecturers and professors will expect you to be more insightful, analytical and collaborative.
Students are often expected to form academic groups and tackle different aspects of a bigger problem and later integrate their results. Presentations also form an important part of academic life. You are bound to sharpen your soft skills in team work, public speaking and leadership.

The way of writing in high schools and in universities has a drastic difference too. Essay and reports are a student's daily diet. It is not a bad idea to pick up books that improve your writing skills. You can find a lot of resources on the web and libraries that tell you details about the approach to tackle university education in general.

An interesting book for the same is ‘The Art of Studying: from school to university and beyond’ by Mr. Anthony Lee. Mr. Lee was my lecturer for a class in Advanced Programming Skills and has a vast experience in university education. If you like video tutorials, I’d recommend one on essay-referencing. (http://www.usq.edu.au/library/Breeze/Fac_Business/HarvardAGPS/)
It’s a comprehensive guide to reference your essays, projects and reports.

That wraps up our first rhapsody. Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vote Earth

It is'nt news that excessive energy consumption is leading to global warming. We are also aware of the fate that lies ahead of us if we do nothing now.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has taken an inspiring initiative to ignite responsibility among the citizens of earth. The campaign ‘Earth Hour’ has received widespread recognition from a lot of countries since it was pioneered in Australia in 2007.

The idea is to turn off non-essential lights across residences and business units for one hour on the last Saturday of March every year. This Saturday (28th March) a lot of important landmarks will be shedding their power consumption to a bare minimum from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time. Centers of commercial importance such as Burj Al Arab in Dubai for instance will be joining the campaign.
Singapore Institute of Management is also participating in the event as part of its CSR. SIM will turn off non-essential lights while adhering to the prevailing safety precautions in Singapore. Read the link to know more: http://www1.sim.edu.sg/sim/pub/edm/Earth20Hour.htm
I shall update the photos of the event when it happens. If you wish to join the Earth Hour initiative, do drop by the Earth Hour homepage: http://www.earthhour.org/home/ You can also show your support by joining the Facebook.com group ‘Earth Hour’ which has over 393,000 members and counting!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Footbolito @ SIM

Sport is an important aspect of student life. Not only is it a great stress buster but it also encourages team bonding and collective strategy.At SIM, sports are given a high impetus. The proof is in the fact that we have at least a dozen sports clubs that I recollect. Clubs range from the usual sports like cricket, soccer, tennis to the not so usual ones like paintball, rock-climbing and kayaking to name a few.

Students at SIM are highly creative and come up the most interesting and innovative ideas for team sports. I reminisce; the three-a-side tennis tournament with a soft ball was amazing fun.Few days back, on 14th March, SIM hosted an open house. It’s when we showcase our courses and student life to aspiring SIM applicants. The same day, SIM also hosted a ‘footbolito extravaganza’.

There were two formats of the sport. One was the famed foosball table (from Archie’s Comics). This game isn’t as easy as it looks. People often end up looking silly.The other format was more creative. It was called ‘Human Foosball’. Well doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure that one out, we replace plastic toys with humans in a life sized arena. Look for more pictures on my Flickr profile.

We tried our skill at the ‘human’ version of the game with our star team ‘Forsythe Pendleton’ named after the famous Jughead from Archie’s Comics. We lost both our bouts 3-5 and 4-5 but had a gala time. I got blamed for trying to be a ‘gentleman’ while tackling with the girl in front of me, well what can I say! ..lol
Click here for pictures

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Business Channel Interview

A reputed business channel is interviewing our univ tomorrow. Im one of the students being interviewed. Will try to get some stills from there.