By Karunakaren M H, ’15
I began my Southeast Asian adventure with a pit stop at Singapore. The week was all about jetlag, family reunions and delicious home cooked meals. The moment I landed in the city, an air of familiarity struck me thanks to the language and people. My first distinctive experience came immediately after exiting the airport. Needing to explain the address of my destination to the taxi driver, I requested him to head to “Tampines”. After a 10 minute conversation and consultation, I found the pronunciation was more closely aligned to ”Tampanese”! I had just experienced “Singlish” (Singaporean English).
A visit to the Marina Bay Sands Casino resort provided a breathtaking view of the Singapore skyline. A curious fact about the casino is that they charge no cover fee for foreign nationals but Singaporeans have to pay hefty cover charges–a very smart promotion for inbound tourism! The week went by all too quickly and soon it was time to embark on my next leg of the adventure to Kuala Lumpur (KL).
After bidding farewell to Singapore, I reached Malaysia on a sultry Sunday evening, a short journey that was made entertaining thanks to an unexpected run-in with my fellow T-bird and friend Toku. Monday morning marked the start of a new module in a brand new and unfamiliar city. Academics aside, we eagerly anticipated the first official cultural tour of the module, which was a Friday excursion to Pulau Ketam (aka crab island), a small fishing village off the mainland Malaysia. We reached the island after an hour and a half bus ride followed by half an hour ferry ride. The island has a beauty of its own and we traipsed about with Prof. Borris speaking off the Buddhist altars. At lunch, people were treated to seafood delicacies and being a vegetarian, I truly felt like a fish out of water.
The evening brought about a meeting with the alumni at the Heli Lounge Bar in KL: a great group of upbeat individuals led by Jessica Macias ‘13. The enthusiasm for Thunderbird was clearly visible from the alumni, with representation from the oldest batch being from the class of ’91. The issues regarding the HLC decision on the Laureate deal was discussed with passion and positivity. It was really heartening to see the alumni group’s support and belief in the school to rebound from this slump. Amidst all the fun and excitement, the courses came thick and fast. Before we realized the first week had passed. Looking ahead, I believe we are all in for a journey of a lifetime.