The Ariake National College of Technology (ANCT) visited Singapore Polytechnic once again on 13 May 2016 for an exchange trip. This time round, a group of approximately 40 students who were from the Chemical Engineering course from ANCT visited SP School of CLS, where they visited the various chemistry laboratories, our own Perfumery & Cosmetic Science Centre and our Nutrition, Health & Wellness Centre, where they learnt about what our students at SP study. Our students also hosted the ANCT students with our own Singapore styled Fruits Party, where they had the opportunity to try out our King of Fruits- Durian, and they also had the opportunity to try out our traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice which the students thoroughly enjoyed. Read on to find out on a reflection from one of the alumni involved in the hosting.

Article contributed by SP Exchange Club Alumnus, Tiffany Chua Shi Hui

As an extrovert, I have always liked meeting new people. It is a bonus if they are from other countries because that would mean I will get first-hand experience on understanding their culture through their word of mouth. This is also the reason why I joined Singapore Polytechnic Student Exchange Club (SPSEC) 4 years ago. Even though I have graduated from SP last year, I still return occasionally to help out for several SPSEC events as I really missed the interactions with the Japanese students.

March this year, I helped out for a 10-days inbound trip with a group of 15 students who came over from Ariake National College of Technology (ANCT). During then, I got to know a girl named Nagisa, who will be coming back to Singapore for a study trip in May. So we kept in contact and promised to meet again in May.

When the day for the May inbound finally came, I was really excited and all pumped up for it. This time round, a class of 34 students from the course, Chemical Science and Engineering, came to Singapore for a study trip together with 3 professors. For this inbound, SP students are involved in a dinner session on 12 May and Chemical and Life Sciences (CLS) tour in SP on 13 May.

On 12 May, it was the Japanese students’ free day so they are free to go anywhere in Singapore. Since I was having my holidays, Nagisa asked me along with her group of friends and we went to various places together. We visited some tourist attractions such as Chinatown and Bugis Street, where they bought some souvenirs back for their families and friends. When the night time arrived, both SP students and ANCT students were numbered and split into 7 groups.

My group went to 18 Chef at Bugis Junction for dinner while some other groups went to Orchard Central, Clarke Quay and so on. The thing about 18 Chef is that the student meal is customizable and I think the Japanese students really liked the aspect of that. Not to mention the price was really affordable and it came with a dessert (ice cream) at the end which was much needed for them in this sweltering weather. Following our dinner, we went to shop around Bugis Junction for a bit before heading back to the hotel. Everyone gathered at this open area at the hotel for some games and chit-chat sessions. This is where the SP students can get to know the Japanese students more and vice versa. That however, only lasted for merely 30 minutes because it was getting late, but I believe everyone had a fun time and that is all that it matters.

On 13 May, ANCT students came to SP around noon and we had lunch together at Moberly. Their lunch was chicken rice, which was a Singapore delicacy that most of them enjoyed. After lunch we mingled around and I am really happy that I got to know more people. I talked about really random things with the Japanese students such as asking them “what is your favourite food”, “what do you like about Singapore” and so on.

Of course, there is bound to be some language barrier when communicating but that alone does not stop a beautiful friendship from forming. That is something that I learnt from SPSEC 3 years ago, when I did my first Japanese inbound. At that time I had totally zero knowledge of any Japanese words but I still managed to befriend them. That’s when I told myself that I should pick up some simple Japanese words and phrases so that I will be able to communicate with them better in the future.

After lunch, we were split into 3 groups and headed to CLS for the school tour. We visited the chemistry laboratories at T11B level 4, the perfumery lab and also the nutrition health and wellness gym. I think they were most in awe with the perfumery lab because it is a really beautiful place and they got to sample some of the perfumes in that lab. From there, the Japanese students could learn what the Chemistry students in SP studied and reference it back to where they studied in ANCT.

Following which, we gathered at T11 Square for a fruit reception prepared by SPSEC. There were various tropical fruits prepared for them, such as honeydew, mango, dragon fruit and of course, the king of all fruits – Durian! It is always an amusing sight looking at Japanese students trying durian for the first time. They could not take the smell of the durian so it’s always like a “challenge” for them, and they get really amused when they see Singaporean students eating it without making strange faces. I guess that’s something that we, Singaporeans can be proud of! After which, the ANCT students left SP for their last activity before their flight to Japan that night.

That night, several SP students went to the airport to send them off. Some of us prepared little gifts, snacks and cards for the Japanese students as a token of appreciation. To be honest, I never liked the feeling of being at the airport to send them off because I do not know when will I ever see them again and it is just really sad.

However, I believe that all the friendship forged and memories made during this trip will forever be etched in their hearts, and our hearts. Because of that, I believe that we will see each other again when the time is right. Thank you for a wonderful time and see you again! また会おう!