Today marks the last day of LINC, but the lessons we have learned throughout this week, as cliche as this may sound, will resonate with us all in the future. Thursday, we experienced the last couple of company visits including DBS Bank, Great Eastern Life insurance company, and the water barrage for Singapore. Friday we toured our last part of the trip at an Asian history museum. After, we put together out final presentations in our individual groups and finally presented them over our last dinner together.
Saturday was our free day and a lot of us went to Sentosa. Sentosa is an island off the coast of Singapore that is basically a hub of tourist attractions. Upon entering it, it feels like one big amusement park. That is divided up into different, more amusement parks. There is a Univarsal Studios, the largest indoor sky diving facility, worlds largest aquarium, beach clubs, and much more. Personally, I spent the day relaxing in the pool and it was a great end to the trip. It’s 5am now and we have to be in the lobby in a half hour and we will begin our way back to the USA.
The experiences we’ve had throughout the week have been so memorable and I’m looking forward to blogging my final entry next week about my takeaway from this amazing trip! Fight on as always!
Sadly, our trip is coming to an end. We had our closing presentations at dinner last night and we have a free day to ourselves today. One thing that was common amongst most of the group presentations is the idea that we should all “go where the growth is”. This has been a common theme throughout most of the company presentations and alumni meetings that we have attended. An alumni even said that “in 1800s all the smart people lived in Europe, the 1900s all the smart people lived in New York, and in the 2000s all the smart people live Asia”. These words echoed in my mind the whole trip.
Throughout the trip, I have been able to try all sorts of foods, visit intriguing museums, and be in parts of Singapore that I never knew existed. This all added to allure of the country to me. Combining these experiences with what I heard about the rapid growth of Asia, this LINC trip has really made me want to come back. During the many business presentations that we heard, another common theme was that everyone should be willing to take risks, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Putting all of this together, if a job in Asia were to open up somewhere down the road, then I would really have to consider taking it. This was my first time going leaving the US and I always thought that I would stay in the American bubble, but I am no longer sure that is the case.
I will never forget the experiences that I had here as well as the people that I met. Singapore is an incredible place and I think everyone should have try to visit and really see what it is all about. Go where the growth is and you will never regret it.
Yesterday we finished our company visits with Great Eastern and DBS. They are both incredible companies and their respective representatives gave us great insights on how the life insurance business and banking are being shaped to grow in Singapore. We also got to visit the Marina Barrage, where we got to see models and displays to better understand the purpose of the reservoir in the middle of the city. All of these visits were great learning experiences, but my favorite part of the day was undoubtedly the Gardens by the Bay.
Two enormous glass domes were built in a 100 hectare piece of reclaimed land right by the Marina Reservoir. The largest one is the flower dome. Keeping a perfectly controlled humidity and temperature inside, the dome features multiple areas with thousands of different plants from all over the world. The experience of walking inside is completely surreal; is feels as if you have entered a completely different world. The diversity of plants inside is unbelievable, as they go from huge trees like Baobabs to colorful flowers such as Tulips.
Inside the other dome is the cloud forest, which in my opinion is even more amazing than the first one. This dome is very tall and in the center of it stands an enormous mountain-like structure. It is completely covered with different plants and flowers and all the way from its peak fall majestic waterfalls. You can take an elevator to the last floor, from which you can appreciate the beautiful scenery, and then slowly make your way down going around the structure. The feeling that you get from walking down this mountain is indescribable; for me, it almost felt like i was walking through the Avatar world.
It is UNBELIEVABLE that we are more than half way through this trip. We have gone on scavenger hunts, the Singapore Zoo, Little India, Chinatown and toured 6 businesses: Nordam, Burson-Marsteller (my personal favorite), HDB, Qian Hu Fish Farm, Singapore Airlines and Ernst & Young. Singapore has been one of the best experiences of my life so far and allowed for me to step out of my comfort zone and acquire global eyes to be able to not only relate it to my life experiences back in the US but also to recognize the differences in culture (business and casual), food and social life.
On Tuesday at Qian Hu Fish Farm I enjoyed the wonderful fish spa that my fellow bloggers have been writing about. It was a much-needed spa treatment for the calluses on my feet. (Yeah I know a little gross). At first I was probably the biggest baby you have ever seen. Numerous students captured me on video freaking out as fish that were the size of my hand were sucking on every inch of my toes and feet. I was gradually able to pull myself together and recover a bit of my manhood but most of it was gone. But it was definitely a worthwhile experience. I’ve honestly never had a better pedicure in my life.
Later that day, we ventured to a shopping mall and food court right next to HDB. The food court was amazing as I had duck rice and a drink called sweet plum with lime juice. It was a very sour drink but quite refreshing. In the food court, I spotted the dish chicken feet. I was very reluctant to try this dish because it was something I was not at all used to eating. But I thought Y.O.L.O (You Only Live Once) and decide to give it a shot. The expression on my face in the picture below says it all. I didn’t particularly like it but I was glad I tried something new.
When we toured the Chinatown Heritage Center yesterday, we were able to see the origin of Singapore that dates back to early 1900’s. Among it all, I was specifically drawn to the living conditions of the time. There were no mattresses for beds, blankets were scarce, rooms were crowded and in homes and shops buckets were used as the toilets. There was no healthcare system in place. One of the testimonials written on the wall had stated that a lady would swallow a cockroach and sip tea to feel better when she was sick. Another stated at shops and businesses sometimes a bucket that was used, as a toilet, would get spilled all over the floor. Witnessing a model of these drastic conditions made me realize the true greatness of Singapore. This was a country that was able to persevere and rise to become one of the top economical hubs in East Asia within only a span of about 50 years. It is truly incredible.
The businesses we have toured here so far have been very valuable experiences. To see the processes of how these companies run and continue to compete and thrive in Singapore and across the world is inspiring. Companies such as Qian Hu fish Farm and Singapore Airlines started out so small and we were able to see the timeline of growth. Specifically at Singapore Airlines, there were models of business class seats from different time periods within the company. It was cool to see how they transformed the business class seat, continually upgrading to a higher standard of service. And even more interesting is when we saw the training facilities for the flight attendants at Singapore Airlines. There is a full swimming pool in which they train to swim and save passengers. The control panel can create waves in the pool to simulate the water conditions of the ocean. Isn’t that amazing?
I have continued to have a wonderful time here in Singapore and I am trying to soak in every minute because time is going by so fast. Stay tuned for more of my weird facial expressions and adventures!
So, today is Thursday (spoiler to people still in Wednesday, the world doesn’t end today) and it is the third day of our company visits. Sunday, our first day, consisted of a city tour by bus and we had our first eating experience in the hawker center. Hawker centers in Singapore are basically outdoor food courts that serve great local cuisine - but with a glowing trait. It is extremely cheap. For about the equivalent of $4 USD we can get a full meal whether it be Malaysian, Chinese, or Indian.
Later that day, we met up with some USC Singapore Alumni Association members who put together a four hour scavenger hunt for us all over the city, introducing us to new places and encouraging us to use public transportation to get to and from each part of the city.
The company visits we have been to thus far are:
-NORDAM is a US based company that builds and repairs airplane parts worldwide. The Singapore General Manager spoke to us and the engineers gave us a tour of the whole facility and we saw parts being worked on.
-A USC alum there gave us much insight into the world renowned PR firm and their competitive strategies and competition in that environment.
3) Singapore’s HDB
-The Singapore Housing Development Board took us on a tour of their own development and we got to see, through a museum with great exhibits, the transition from old to new Singapore in such a short amount of time.
4) Qian Hu Fish Farm
-The fish farm idea was unlike anything I have experienced in the USA. This company breeds fish to be sold to collectors (not food) and also sells aquariums and tanks. After a tour of the whole facility, including fish upwards of $2000, a representative from the company gave a presentation on how a company based and started in Singapore could do international business. After, we all went to their fish spa where we put our legs in the water and huge or small (depending which pool) fish started sucking on our feet, which was a very peculiar feeling, but was quite entertaining.
5) Singapore Airlines
-As the national airline based as a premium full service carrier, Singapore Airlines took us through their development model of becoming such a huge airline for such a small carrier. After, we took a tour of their training facility which consisted of full mockups of planes with each class of seats, emergency deployment systems and rafts, and finally a huge pool with a wave maker that simulates water landing emergency procedures, all which was very cool to see.
6) Ernst and Young
-Finally, we saw Ernst and Young, arguably the largest accounting firm in the world. The head of Asia for the company spoke with us about the struggles they have maintaining their high standard and how he emerged, through global business, to the high executive partner position he is today.
These next couple of days promise to be very exciting so I’m definitely looking forward to them. Even though over half the trip is over, Singapore promises to be a lot of fun and we will still tour more companies tomorrow. Fight on!