As a multicultural nation, Singapore faces the difficult challenge of bringing together communities of different ethnicities, beliefs, cultures and languages. As the focal point of the subject, it was fascinating to see how this reflected in every aspect of Singaporean culture: from packaging and signage, to community spaces and entire suburbs. I would not have known the extent of this had I not visited the country for Interdisciplinary Lab B (Global).
As one of the 19 students who visited Singapore for the two-week program, Interdisciplinary Lab B was an enriching and rewarding experience. For the first week we had the opportunity to visit three distinct areas of Singapore: Kampong Glam, Chinatown and Little India. Kampong Glam, the Malay sector, was picturesque with beautiful mosques (Sultan Mosque) and boutique lanes (Haji Lane, Arab St). In Chinatown, the new year was rapidly approaching so we were treated to celebrations and markets revolving around the Year of the Pig. The intense scents of herbs and spices were vividly present in Little India, as they too set up for their own Harvest Festival. As the focal point of the second assessment, each came with their own heritage design challenges, including loss of culture in some cases. Visiting the Heritage Centre in each district, I developed an understanding and appreciation for their unique cultures and histories.
Historically, Singapore has been recognised as an international trading port, connecting countries together. More recently however, Singapore has experienced a transformative socio-cultural shift from international trading port to thriving business hub. It was incredible to observe this in the Singaporean urban landscape, with its multistorey, modern skyscrapers juxtaposed with the old heritage buildings like Hawker Centres (Lau Pa Sat) and Temples, like the Sultan Mosque. These contrasting architectural designs, so different to Australia, really cemented the fact I was truly overseas. That, and the humidity which I never got used to!
Singapore’s true multiculturalism is something we can all learn from in Australia. I would 100% recommend Interdisciplinary Lab B (Singapore) as a subject to undertake due to it being such a wonderful, enriching study experience. I feel that it has added to my studies as a visual communication student in a unique way by broadening my horizons. As my first time overseas by myself, there were many challenges I had to overcome and I feel that by dealing with these, I have become more resilient, adaptable and independent.