Over the month of December the one question every exchanger, whose term at NUS lasts longer than a semester, asks themselves is whether or not vacation stay is worth the money. In this post, I wish to share with you my experience – in addition to the experiences of other exchangers – as a means of highlighting all the options open to you.
Staying is a great option of you wish to spent the holidays in Singapore; and staying behind offers up great opportunities! Firstly, if you happen to have made friends with locals, this month with allow to experience the city from a local perspective without other exchange students present.
In addition, there are also plenty of paid internships/programmes that are available around the this period. This is a great opportunity, not only for making a little extra cash over the holidays, but also for becoming familiarized and engaging with with others in a foreign work environment – which will no doubt work to enhance your CV! However, I must warn that, the competition for jobs/paid programmes/internships is very high. Thus, to avoid disappointment, I would advice you apply to as many internships as early as possible with a very strong CV.
Furthermore, vacation stay allows for you to travel and return with ease as accommodation is available to you over the break. Additionally, you can pay for partial vacation stay where you pay for the weeks you wish to reside. This is a better option if you wish to travel in the first half of the month and return towards the end of December.
The Cost of Staying
Vacation stay is optional, and is based on the standard NUS academic calendar i.e. vacation1 – Dec to Jan and Vacation 2 – May to Aug. The cost of rent varies from halls, to student residents, to collage residents. Overall, however, it costs between $75-$200 (per week) depending on which halls of residence you wish to apply.
As I reside in a student residence (a 4 bedroom apartment (non-air conditioned)), it would have cost me $135 per week – whilst air-conditioned rooms would cost $150. In the 4 weeks between the end of semester 1 ( first week in December) to the beginning of semester 2 ( the first week in January) it would have cost approximately $540 in total. In the end, however, I did not apply for vacation stay.
After a lot of deliberation, I decided against it as I did not want to spent my holidays in Singapore. Over the Christmas break, UTown campus turns into a “ghost town” as there are very few people still around campus – the locals return home, as do majority of the exchange students. Consequentially, most facilities ( i.e bookstore, gym) were closed over the break or closed earlier than usual (i.e food courts).
Knowing this, I personally thought it was wiser to take the $540 I’d have spent on the rent and instead put it towards something more worthwhile. I refused to spend 4 weeks alone, and in the same environment I’d grown accustomed to. I needed a change; thus chose to travel around South East Asia instead.
Travelling is one alternative that’s also available. However, it’s cheaper to do so with as little baggage as possible ( i.e saves money on flights..etc). There are may places where you can leave your belongings, both within Utown campus as well as external to the residences.
The first and cheapest option is to ask a trusted local friend or exchange student, who has room storage/ vacation stay, as to whether they’d be okay for you to store your belongings in their homes. This is the simplest solution, however if this is not applicable to your situation you can also store luggage on campus ( if a resident of Utown Residence or PGP) over the break.
When you apply for luggage storage, you’ll be given 90cm (L) x 60cm x 80cm (H) lot to store your belonging – which cost $21.40 per slot, per vacation stay. On the there hand, storage spaces as provided by private companies, are also available for hire.However, if you do not want to pack up your belongings at all, you can also pay for in-room storage. The rate applicable is 30% of the prevailing room rate.
I was fortunate enough to not have to pay at all as I was able to store all my belonging in an other exchanger apartment. However, I know a few who’ve ended up paying for vacation stay and thought it a waste of money whilst others really enjoyed it. Overall, the decision is your own.