"Where do you go on exchange when you love 1) people, 2) adventure and 3) a gum-free city street? Singapore. We caught up with Pearl, who is soaking up her semester befriending the locals and admiring the urban infrastructure of pristine Singapore. Check out what Pearl has to say about her first two months abroad!"
- Articling Students 2017/18
Student: Pearl Lee
Law School: Osgoode Hall Law School
Exchange Law School: National University of Singapore (NUS) Legal Studies
Exchange Place: Singapore
Why did you choose Singapore?
I’ve always wanted to explore Southeast Asia and thought that Singapore would be a perfect place to call “home”. Despite being a small and dense city-state, Singapore has emerged as the greenest city in Asia and I’m a big advocate for urban sustainability (and cleanliness!).
I was also interested in experiencing the cultural hub which has emerged from a combination of Asian and European influences (i.e. “East meets West”). Going on exchange where English was a primary language was important to me (although I’d have to admit that learning “Singlish” has been quite the challenge!).
Lastly, Singapore is a gateway to explore other areas in Southeast Asia which would make my travels (and visiting other Goodmans students on exchange) much easier!
What has been your favourite moment abroad?
I have really enjoyed building relationships with local Singaporeans here. It’s been great to learn about their culture and explore pockets of Singapore that I would not have found on my own.
Have you discovered anything abroad you wished we had in Canada?
There hasn’t been a time that I’ve taken the MRT (mass rapid transit) in Singapore without wishing we had this system in Toronto. The infrastructure is extremely well maintained and monitored, making transportation across the city-state a breeze. There are several signs directing commuters where to stand to avoid the in/out rush at stops. During peak hours, there are even station attendants with microphones directing traffic. Recently, new “priority queues” have been implemented for expectant and new mothers with their children. What’s even more impressive is how well everyone follows the signs!
What about your legal education - what's the most interesting thing you've learned?
Singapore truly is a “green city”, but in my opinion this hasn’t come about without several laws that have governed people’s littering habits. Anyone convicted of dropping litter can be fined up to $1,000 SGD for first convictions and $5,000 for repeat conviction with community service orders or anti-littering lectures. Singapore also has fines for people putting chewing gum anywhere other than a bin, for urinating in the lift, and failing to flush the toilet.
Weirdest food you've eaten?
I’d have to admit that I am not the most adventurous person when it comes to food. Back in Toronto, I am quite the health nut and really enjoy cooking my own meals. Being without a kitchen here has definitely changed that and I find myself being more spontaneous with what I eat - which I love!
What impression do you think you're leaving at your exchange school of a Canadian law student?
Through this exchange I believe (and hope) that I can add to this cultural hub by sharing my experiences in a Canadian legal system and workplace. A day doesn’t go by where I meet someone who has come from a completely different cultural (and legal) background than me. For instance, the majority of law students at NUS are younger than me because they are not required to have an undergraduate degree before entering law school. I absolutely love meeting other exchange students here!
Where to next?!
Bali, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Hong Kong, and hopefully the Philippines!
Pearl Lee is a third year law student at the Osgoode Hall Law School. Pearl spent the summer at Goodmans and is returning to article after she graduates.