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Jillian Arbeiter ’23 Singapore J-Term Blog #1

Hello from Singapore! My name is Jillian, and I am a senior at Carthage. These past 10 days, I have had the privilege of experiencing the Rooted in Place: History, Biodiversity, and Environment in Southeast Asia J-Term study tour alongside 22 other amazing students. This trip has been an incredible opportunity to learn about the history, religion, culture, nature, architecture, and innovation of Singapore. 

Thian Hock Keng Temple

At the beginning of our trip, our class visited the Thian Hock Keng Temple. This temple is dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu and is a very important temple for Hokkien people.

Michelin-star restaurant Din Tai Fung

In order to experience one of Singapore’s most famous delicacies, our group indulged in a specific dim sum meal at the Michelin-star restaurant Din Tai Fung. Here we were able to try a variety of delicious dumplings such as pork, veggie, shrimp, chocolate, red bean, and sesame — all of which were amazing.

NEWater Reclamation Center

Halfway through our trip, we toured the NEWater Reclamation Center, where we learned all about Singapore’s sources of water. These include imports from Malaysia, rainwater collection, reclaimed water known as NEWater, and desalinated water.

Banana Leaf Restaurant in Little India

Another delicious meal our group shared was at the Banana Leaf Restaurant in Little India. Many different people live together in Singapore such as Singaporean, Malay, Chinese, Thai, and Indian people. Here, we were able to indulge in authentic Indian food such as butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and mango lasses!

Students partaking in a traditional tea ceremony.

Due to the unexpected and heavy rain, our day trip to Pulau Ubin was canceled. Instead, we were able to partake in a beautiful traditional tea ceremony! We were able to try both Oolong and Jasmine tea as well as some cookies and candied nuts. We learned the order in which to serve tea to guests and how to properly hold tea cups.

Cloud Forest: Avatar Exhibit

Cloud Forest: Avatar Exhibit

Super Tree Grove

Super Tree Grove

Lastly, two of my personal favorite experiences from this trip were visiting the famous Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, and seeing the Super Tree Light Show at the Gardens by the Bay! At the Cloud Forest, we were able to observe a variety of plants and flowers in different climates and learn how they adapt to a variety of conditions. We also happened to visit while the new “Avatar: Way of Water” exhibit was open, which was definitely an added bonus. The Super Tree Light show was by far the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. These sustainable garden trees are home to over 162,000 plants from over 200 species, some of which utilize solar energy.

Group photo of students in Singapore.

This trip was an absolute blast, and we are so thankful to have learned from our professors and the amazing people of Singapore. Singapore is a truly magical and beautiful place full of diverse cultures and religions that all share the purest kindness, and we were so privileged to have been able to come here.

— Jillian Arbeiter ’23