singapore trees
First rule: There are no rules. These resources are completely free and at your disposal. Use as much, or as little, as you want. Study casually, or work to create a portfolio of academic work that will blow the socks off of the educational establishment.

Feel free to adapt the materials for your own purposes. We expect families, business people, backpackers, college students, high school kids, middle aged vacationers, and retirees who are on a late life adventure to take these materials and run with them. We’d be very happy for teachers or travel group leaders to add these materials to their study abroad packets as well.

The nature of open source is collaboration, so please feel free to contribute when you become aware of resources we haven’t listed, or you have project ideas that we haven’t developed. Send us your work and inspire others to reach higher and deeper as they travel!

Our goal with this project is to inspire adventure and further education through experiential learning around the world. Please send us a note and let us know how you used these resources!

Buffet Style Learning

Does the menu look overwhelming? Looking for a formula to use as a skeleton for your studies in Singapore?


  • Two books
  • Two films
  • Three articles
  • One Problem & Solution or Project Option
  • One Cultural Assignment

Table of Contents

Book Recommendations

singapore india

singaporehistoryFrom Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000

by Lee Kwan Yew

Few gave tiny Singapore much chance of survival when it was granted independence in 1965. How is it, then, that today the former British colonial trading post is a thriving Asian metropolis with not only the world’s number one airline, best airport, and busiest port of trade, but also the world’s fourth–highest per capita real income?

The story of that transformation is told here by Singapore’s charismatic, controversial founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Rising from a legacy of divisive colonialism, the devastation of the Second World War, and general poverty and disorder following the withdrawal of foreign forces, Singapore now is hailed as a city of the future. This miraculous history is dramatically recounted by the man who not only lived through it all but who fearlessly forged ahead and brought about most of these changes.

crazyrichCrazy Rich Asians

by Kevin Kwan – Fiction

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

foodSingapore Cooking: Fabulous Recipes from Asia’s Food Capital

by Terry & Christopher Tan

An abiding Singaporean passion, food is a central part of life on this multicultural island quite simply because there’s so much of it that’s so good! Singapore Cooking, featuring a foreword by James Beard Award-Winner David Thompson, is a fabulous collection of beloved local classics, including the most extraordinary Chicken Rice and Chili Crab you will have ever eaten, as well as less common but equally delightful dishes, such as Ayam Tempra (Spicy Sweet-and-Sour Stir-Fried Chicken) and Nasi Ulam (Herbal Rice Salad).

The recipes are well written, easy to follow, and accompanied by beautiful color photographs. With this Singapore cookbook by your side your acquaintance—or re-acquaintance—with Singapore food promises to be an exciting and mouthwatering experience.

noireSingapore Noire

by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan – Anthology

“Say Singapore to anyone and you’ll likely hear one of a few words: Caning. Fines. Chewing gum.

For much of the West, the narrative of Singapore–a modern Southeast Asian city-state perched on an island on the tip of the Malay Peninsula–has been marked largely by its government’s strict laws and unwavering enforcement of them…As much as I understand these outside viewpoints, I have always lamented that the quirky and dark complexities of my native country’s culture rarely seem to make it past its borders…

Beneath its sparkling veneer is a country teeming with shadows…And its stories remain. The rich stories that attracted literary lions W. Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling to hold court at the Raffles Hotel (where the Singapore Sling was created) are still sprinkled throughout its neighborhoods. And in the following pages, you’ll get the chance to discover some of them…

You’ll find stories from some of the best contemporary writers in Singapore–three of them winners of the Singapore Literature Prize, essentially the country’s Pulitzer: Simon Tay, writing as Donald Tee Quee Ho, tells the story of a hard-boiled detective who inadvertently wends his way into the underbelly of organized crime, Colin Cheong shows us a surprising side to the country’s ubiquitous cheerful ‘taxi uncle,’ while Suchen Christine Lim spins a wistful tale of a Chinese temple medium whose past resurges to haunt her…

As for mine, I chose a setting close to my heart–the kelongs, or old fisheries on stilts, that once dotted the waters of Singapore but are gradually disappearing. I have a deep sense of romance about these kelongs, along with the many other settings, characters, nuances, and quirks that you’ll see in these stories. They’re intense, inky, nebulous. There is evil, sadness, a foreboding. And liars, cheaters, the valiant abound.

This is a Singapore rarely explored in Western literature–until now. No Disneyland here; but there is a death penalty.”

healthcareAffordable Excellence: The Singapore Healthcare Story

by William Haseltine

This is the story of the Singapore healthcare system: how it works, how it is financed, its history, where it is going, and what lessons it may hold for national health systems around the world. Singapore ranks sixth in the world in healthcare outcomes, yet spends proportionally less on healthcare than any other high-income country. This is the first book to set out a comprehensive system-level description of healthcare in Singapore, with a view to understanding what can be learned from its unique system design and development path.

The lessons from Singapore will be of interest to those currently planning the future of healthcare in emerging economies, as well as those engaged in the urgent debates on healthcare in the wealthier countries faced with serious long-term challenges in healthcare financing. Policymakers, legislators, public health officials responsible for healthcare systems planning, finance and operations, as well as those working on healthcare issues in universities and think tanks should understand how the Singapore system works to achieve affordable excellence.

eliteThe Ruling Elite of Singapore: Networks of Power and Influence

by Michael Barr

Michael Barr explores the complex and covert networks of power at work in one of the world’s most prosperous countries – the city-state of Singapore. He argues that the contemporary networks of power are a deliberate project initiated and managed by Lee Kuan Yew – former prime minister and Singapore’s “”founding father”” – designed to empower himself and his family.

Barr identifies the crucial institutions of power – including the country’s sovereign wealth funds, and the government-linked companies – together with five critical features that form the key to understanding the nature of the networks. He provides an assessment of possible shifts of power within the elite in the wake of Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, assuming power, and considers the possibility of a more fundamental democratic shift in Singapore’s political system.

battleThe Battle For Singapore: The true story of the greatest catastrophe of World War II

by Peter Thompson

The true story of the “the greatest defeat and largest capitulation” in British military history. The Fall of Singapore on February 15, 1942 is a military disaster of enduring fascination. For the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the island, Peter Thompson tells the explosive story of the Malayan campaign, the siege of Singapore, the ignominious surrender to a much smaller Japanese force, and the Japanese occupation through the eyes of those who were there—the soldiers of all nationalities and members of Singapore’s beleaguered population.

diaryDiary of an Expat in Singapore

by Jennifer Gargiulo

This hilarious new book records the tongue-in-cheek journey of an expat in Singapore, told through vignettes, snapshots and Top 10 lists: “10 sure signs you’re in a Singapore taxi”; “Things first-time visitors to Singapore say”; “10 signs you’ve overstayed”; “Politically-incorrect expat profiling by nationality”; and many more.

Based on the author Jennifer Gargiulo’s popular blog of the same name, Diary of an Expat in Singapore packs in a wealth of quirky observations, witty one-liners, and laugh-out-loud misunderstandings as the author tries to adjust to life in a strange new land and raise two kids while at it. Marvel as Jennifer enlists the help of her young son, Alexander (who learns Chinese at school), to find out what her hairdressers are saying about her at the salon!

dieYou’ll Die in Singapore

by Charles McCormac

With sixteen other Pows, author Charles McCormac broke out from his Pow camp in Japanese-occupied Singapore and began a two-thousand-mile escape from Singapore, through the jungles of Indonesia to Australia. The Pows’ escape took a staggering five months and only two out of the original seventeen men survived. This is McCormac’s compelling true account of one of the most horrifying and amazing escapes in World War Two. It is a story of courage, endurance and compassion, and makes for a very gripping read.

pictoralSingapore A Pictorial History

by Gretchen Liu

This fine compilation rises above the usual coffee-table designation with 1200 well-chosen images, mostly historical photos from both commercial photographers and amateurs but also sketches, paintings, and postcards from numerous sources, including one-of-a-kind family albums. For example, there is the earliest known extant pencil sketch (1823) and photograph (1843) of Singapore.

Arranged chronologically, the four chapters consist of concise commentary and identification notes; the views include topographical studies, posed formal portraits, and spontaneous street scenes. All ethnic groups are presented in a balanced fashion, as are all kinds of activity political, economic, religious, cultural, and social. If the final section depicting the present-day city-state is a bit suggestive of government propaganda, Singapore’s recent achievements are truly remarkable. Very fairly priced for what it is, this treasure trove of historical visual documentation is recommended for all academic and public libraries as a record of dramatic transformations in a region that deserves our attention. – Review by Harold M. Otness

last flightLast Flight From Singapore

by Arthur Donahue

Although the Battle of Britain is over, the campaign for Singapore is about to begin.

After Arthur Donahue survived the fight in Europe, which he documented in Tally Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire, he was posted to a new squadron headed overseas. Donahue reveals the frustration felt by pilots as they were cooped up on transport ships; en route they learn that the U.S. has been drawn into the war, and that their destination is now Singapore.

Though saddened by the news, Donahue reveals a glimpse into the American people’s earlier attitude towards those who, like him, had volunteered with the British: they saw them as outlaws.

Adapting to new conditions, Donahue transports the reader once more into his flying boots as he readies himself in the sweltering jungles of Malaya, before flying on to Singapore and a new form of aerial warfare against the Japanese.

Last Flight from Singapore is Donahue’s vivid account of the months immediately after those described in Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire, concluding his memoir of service as an American in the R.A.F.

moonlightThe Moonlight Palace

by Liz Rosenberg – Historical Fiction

Agnes Hussein, descendant of the last sultan of Singapore and the last surviving member of her immediate family, has grown up among her eccentric relatives in the crumbling Kampong Glam palace, a once-opulent relic given to her family in exchange for handing over Singapore to the British.

Now Agnes is seventeen and her family has fallen into genteel poverty, surviving on her grandfather’s pension and the meager income they receive from a varied cast of boarders. As outside forces conspire to steal the palace out from under them, Agnes struggles to save her family and finds bravery, love, and loyalty in the most unexpected places. The Moonlight Palace is a coming-of-age tale rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters set against the backdrop of dazzling 1920s Singapore.

realestateSingapore’s Real Estate: 50 Years of Transformation

by Ngee Huat Seek
50 Years of Real Estate in Singapore documents the transformation and development of the real estate market in Singapore over the past 50 years. This volume is organised around two major themes, and covers issues from the “bricks and mortar” to the capital markets; and from local to international real estate markets. The themes aptly describe how real estate has played an important role in the economic development and growth of Singapore from a third world to a first world country. Written by well-renowned experts with deep academic and practical knowledge of the progress of real estate in Singapore, this book highlights the uniqueness of real estate markets and institutions in Singapore, which have constantly been replicated and adopted in other markets.

burningSingapore Burning: Heroism And Surrender In World War II

by Colin Smith

Churchill’s description of the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942, after Lt-Gen Percival’s surrender led to over 100,000 British, Australian and Indian troops falling into the hands of the Japanese, was no wartime exaggeration. The Japanese had promised that there would be no Dunkirk in Singapore, and its fall led to imprisonment, torture and death for thousands of allied men and women. With much new material from British, Australian, Indian and Japanese sources, Colin Smith has woven together the full and terrifying story of the fall of Singapore and its aftermath. Here, alongside cowardice and incompetence, are forgotten acts of enormous heroism; treachery yet heart-rending loyalty; Japanese compassion as well as brutality from the bravest and most capricious enemy the British ever had to face.

pressFreedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore

by Cherien George

For several decades, the city-state of Singapore has been an international anomaly, combining an advanced and open economy with restrictions on civil liberties and press freedom. This volume analyzes the republic’s media system, showing how it has been structured like the rest of the political framework to provide maximum freedom of maneuver for the People’s Action Party (PAP) government.

Cherian George assesses why the PAP’s ‘freedom from the press’ model has lasted longer than many other authoritarian systems. He suggests that one key factor has been the PAP’s recognition that market forces could be harnessed as a way to tame journalism. Another counter-intuitive strategy is its self-restraint in the use of force, progressively turning to subtler means of control that are less prone to backfire. The PAP has also remained open to internal reform, even as it tries to insulate itself from political competition. Thus, although increasingly challenged by dissenting views disseminated through the internet, the PAP has so far managed to consolidate its soft-authoritarian, hegemonic form of electoral democracy.

Given Singapore s unique place on the world map of press freedom and democracy, this book not only provides a constructive engagement with ongoing debates about the city-state but also makes a significant contribution to the comparative study of journalism and politics.

Traveling In Singapore By Coloring

by William B. Lewis

This collection of beautiful places around Singapore will captivate and excite all adult Colorists. Explore fantastically illustrated drawings of famous landmarks incoloring Singapore. A snapshot of Singapore using sketches instead of photos will inspire you to visit Singapore.

Kids Book Recommendations

childrenSingapore Children’s Favorite Stories

Singapore Children’s Favorite Stories is a collection of eleven stories that provide an insight into the traditional culture and history of Singapore. Retold by Diane Taylor for an international audience, the whimsical watercolor illustrations by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard offer insight into Singapore’s multicultural past and present, as well as its colonial roots. The famous story of the tiger under the billiard table at the Raffles Hotel is retold, as is the myth of how the name “Singapore” (Lion City) came about. Magical princesses, mermaids, tigers, pirates and buffalos compete for every child’s attention.

amazingsingAmazing Pictures and Facts About Singapore

by Mina Kelly

Have your children ever wondered where Singapore is located? What language do they speak? What types of food are popular in Singapore?

In this book you will explore the wonders of Singapore, finding the answers to these questions and so many more. Complete with incredible pictures to keep even the youngest of children captivated, you will all embark on a little journey into the great unknown.

mammalsField Guide to the Mammals of Singapore

by Anish Banerjee

The “Field Guide to the Mammals of Singapore”, is a comprehensive guide to the 65 odd species of mammals in Singapore. It covers important identification characteristics of each mammals along with their ecology and local status. Furthermore each mammal is accompanied with their respective images.

Hidden beneath Singapore’s concrete jungle lies a vast diversity of flora and fauna. Their is an ever increasing in reptiles and birds in Singapore. However, mammals in Singapore do not seem to spark an intrest in wildlife enthusiasts. This is because of Singapore’s mammals are not well known. This book is an up to date guide to Singapore’s mammals.

Film Recommendations

singapore mural

The History of Singapore The Miracle of Asia Full Documentary



Waterfront Cities Of The World: Singapore



Megastructures – Singapore Marina Bay Sands Documentary National Geographic



WWII The Fall of Singapore The Great Betrayal


The BBC’s hard hitting documentary that most of the world never got to see. A must see in understanding Japan’s climb to being a military superpower in WWII.

Generals At War – Battle of Singapore



The History of Singapore: Raffles’ Little Child


In this episode, Raffles’ Little Child, it chronicles the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles, and tells the story of Singapore’s birth and growing pains through to the high .

The History of Singapore: The Accidental Nation (Part 2)



The History of Singapore: Lion City, Asian Tiger (Part 3)


Singapore’s journey did not have a promising start, and few believed it could survive as an independent nation-state. After its separation from Malaya, Singapore .

Building the Biggest Underground Singapore MRT



Here We Are – Singapore Music Film Documentary


The film documentary “Here We Are” sets out to globally expose Singapore’s rapidly growing music scene. It dives into the heart of the local music community and gets inside perspectives on where the Singapore music industry may be heading to in the near future.

The movie features interviews from bands, artists, recording studios, media outlets, government sectors, band managers, producers and other affiliated organizations as they explore and discuss the various mechanisms that are sparking the current local music movement.

A Day with the Lion Dance Masters



Documentary LGBT in Singapore



FYP- “In-Silence”. A documentary on Foreign workers in Singapore


“In-Silence” is a Final Year Project done by Republic Polytechnic 3rd year students.
Production Team Name: Real Productions.

The short documentary aims to highlight and raise awareness about the plights and situations of the foreign/transient workers of Singapore. Singapore has been built by their hands, and yet, most of the time they are being mistreated and under-appreciated. Through this video, we hope to be able to spread their plights, and raise empathy towards them amongst fellow Singaporeans.

Article Recommendations

singapore pagoda
Schoolboy to Swim King- Joseph Schooling’s Road to Gold – Straits Times

Ageing But Still Working in Singapore – NY Times

Blogger Gets Jail Term in Singapore for Posts Said to Incite Ethnic Hatred – NY Times

Singapore parliament passes controversial contempt of court bill -Reuters

Singapore: Censorship City – Index: The Voice of Free Expression

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2016: Singapore

Five Gender Gaps Women Still Face in 2015 – Straits Times

Singapore Defends Caning – The Diplomat

PM Lee’s health scare exposes Singapore’s leadership uncertainty – Reuters

Asia Tops Biggest Global School Rankings – BBC

Solar-powered ‘supertrees’ breathe life into Singapore’s urban oasis – CNN

Project Options:

singapore game


Singapore’s history reads like an adventure novel. It’s changed hands, leadership and influence dramatically since it’s first recorded history in the third century. While the middle ages were unfolding in Europe Singapura fell, along with it’s last Hindu king, Parameswara; under the Islamic Sultan Iskandar Shah Singapore gained a footing as a trading port in the region. When Majapahit conquered the area as part of his vast and growing kingdom; this is a dude who faced a challenge from Kublai Khan, who sent 1000 boats to Java. Under the Sultanate of Malacca Singapore became a center for Islam whose influence expanded through the region. Followed by Portugese explorers who drove out the Sultan and did a little ransacking.

Raffles showed up in 1819 and this marked the beginning of the of British colonial rule, which did some good for the local economy. Meanwhile, Chinese immigrants were arriving in a steady stream, bringing their culture, religions and society with them. World War 1 didn’t rock the island too badly, but WW2 was another story. The Japanese took the island (along with Malaysia) in 1942 and Singaporeans suffered greatly and by the end of the war the colony was in shambles.

By 1959 Lee Kwan Yew was elected. He spearheaded a merger with Malaysia, and the former British territories on Borneo. By 1965 Singapore declared complete independence with Yew at the helm and under his leadership Singapore skyrocketed to the economic superpower of Southeast Asia.

While you are in Singapore study the history, visit the historical sites, do some reading, interview willing participants and learn what you can. Some options for study include:

  • Ancient Kingdoms of Singapore
  • The arrival of the Portugese
  • Raffles
  • Singapore as a British Colony
  • Chinese migration to Singapore
  • WW2- examine a particular character or moment
  • The rise of the People’s Action Party
  • Independence for Singapore

Raffles & Colonization

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles began his enterprising career with the British East Indies Company at just 14 years old. A decade later he was a rising star in Penang and soon after being sent all over what is now Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. He chose Singapore as an outpost of the Company and personally brokered the first trade deals with the local rulers. Thus began the British colonial rule of Singapore, which lasted through WW2.

Study the life and exploits of Raffles. By any measure he was an impressive character in his era. What were his motivations? What were his major accomplishments? What earned him his knighthood?

Or, study the colonial period in Singapore. What effect did the arrival of the British have on the existing government and population? What was Singapore like when the British arrived? What were the greatest accomplishments under British rule? What were the most significant consequences of that rule? Why did the British eventually relinquish power? How did that happen?

The Japanese Conquest of Singapore

During WW2 the Japanese swept the Pacific and conquered most of modern day Southeast Asia. Focus on their conquest of Singapore, specifically. Learn about the battle that delivered the colony into their hands. How did the Japanese subjugate the population? What changes did they make to the country or it’s resource allocation? What was daily life like, for the average citizen, under Japanese rule?

Tin & Rubber

Tin and Rubber are two of the products that are responsible for Singapore’s early economic success. Why is this? Where was the demand for those products coming from? Dig into the history of the production of these two items and how they were leveraged for the good of the country.

How is tin produced (was it produced) in Singapore? How is (was) rubber produced? With whom were they traded? Which companies rose as a result? How did this economic boost trickle out to the general economy?

Lee Kuan Yew

Who was this guy and how did he manage to take Singapore from a struggling ex-colony to the economic powerhouse of the region? What was his background? What was his political platform? What sort of ruler was he? What were the major victories of his political career? What were the criticisms of his administration and his style of leadership?

Water Reclamation

One of Singapore’s big challenges has been fresh water. Initially reliant on a pipeline from Malaysia, and surrounded by sea water this was one of the big problems to solve. It has been solved and in an incredibly sustainable, innovative way; through reclamation. Fully a third of the city-state’s fresh water is provided through reclamation at the NEWater facility. It’s free to tour and fascinating. How does water reclamation work in Singapore? What do they do about the fact that the reclaimed water is actually too clean to drink?

Solar Powered Super Trees

It’s hard to miss the 18 huge super trees in the Gardens by the Bay national park project. Giant vertical gardens growing tropical plants from around the world. They also convert solar energy into electricity to power the conservatories. Take the skywalk. Wander through at the bases of the trees and read, carefully, the information placards. What did you learn? When and why were these super trees built?

Profiles of …..

Conduct a series of at least five interviews within Singapore. The point of the exercise would be to get a well rounded view of what it is like to live in the Singapore from a variety of ages, incomes, employments and experiences. This could be conducted as video, or as text. Do an in depth analysis of the experience/information.

People you might profile:

  • Farmers
  • Teachers
  • Restaurant owners/workers
  • Religious leaders
  • Government officials
  • Doctors or nurses
  • Cafe owners
  • Street vendors
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Drivers
  • Artists or musicians
  • Laborers
  • Cab drivers
  • Long term expats
  • Shop owners or workers

Problems & Solutions

singapore port

Corporal Punishment

Singapore has received significant international criticism over it’s use of caning in discipline and punishment throughout it’s institutions. Caning is used in Singapore’s justice system, in addition to jail time. It is legal for use in schools (male children only). And it is common in the military as a form of consequence for infraction as well. Study caning in Singapore. Why, in such a developed nation, is this so publicly touted as an acceptable disciplinary measure? What is the reasoning behind it? Ask people what they think about it’s use in various settings. What do you think about caning as a punishment in the way that Singapore uses it?

LGBTQ Rights & Gender Issues

LGBTQ persons lack the same rights as heterosexual people in Singapore. Their unions are not recognized. They may not adopt children. Male homosexual activity is illegal. Female homosexual activity is not illegal. There are no laws on the books to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in the work place either. Recent attempts to pass laws amending some of these inequalities have been struck down by the courts. Investigate the implications for the LGBTQ community. Perhaps you would be interested in collecting first hand stories from within the community around LGBTQ issues. What efforts are being made to move Singapore forward in acceptance and equality for differently gendered or oriented persons?

Censorship & Freedom of Speech

Article 14 of the constitution of Singapore establishes protections around the freedom of speech and assembly for citizens but then goes on to list situations in which the government can rescind those rights: Security of the country, morality, public order and friendly relations with other countries. The reality is that the government restricts both freedom of speech and assembly through a number of legal actions that have resulted in a state controlled media and limits on assembly. Study the history of Singapore as it relates to free speech and association. What were the turning points away from the freedom guaranteed by the constitution? Do they remain valid? Are there any current events or news stories that demonstrate an overzealous use of these restrictions? If people are willing to discuss their thoughts on this sensitive topic, interview them about how the current laws affect their personal lives as well as their communities and the country at large.

Cultural Assignment Options

singapore chinese


Singapore is a hawker’s market paradise. Some of the very best food in the country is sold at food carts and eaten standing up on the street. Conversely, there are Michelin starred restaurants with haute cuisine within the city too. Explore the dishes that are unique to Singapore, the fancy ones, and the low-brow. Make a project of the hawkers markets and note the ethnic origins of various food types. Document as many new (to you) foods as you can in Singapore. Perhaps you want to compile a notebook of recipes as you go.

Meaningful Connections

What is a meaningful interaction? You get to decide that. In general, it should be an interaction in which cultural exchange took place and you learned something. Often this will be with a local person; sometimes it will be with another traveler.

Sometimes these interactions look like very little on the outside but are totally life changing on the inside. Other times, they are rock your world amazing from every angle. It could be a meal shared, an afternoon’s excursion, a discussion that opens your eyes in some way, a self revelation that happened without any words exchanged at all.

Spend a day with a local individual or family. Document your experience in photos, interviews and the written word. The best way to interact with locals is to just start chatting with them at markets, on tours or on the street. You can also ask other travelers if they have met anyone who has offered some insight into life in the country. If you are a family who have children attending a local school then have a party, invite a parent to coffee, basically just open up your home to new relationships.

Take a Class

There are many options! Don’t be limited by this list:

  • Cooking (definitely consider taking a cooking class in France!)
  • Language
  • Art or Crafts
  • Literature
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Music

Museum Visits

Singapore has some unique museums. In addition to the National Museum, there are a number of art museums and the Asian Civilizations Museum.

If you have children (or if you are a wildlife enthusiast) then the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is well worth an afternoon. It’s hidden away within the Chinese Garden, which requires a train ride from downtown, and it has a photograph worthy pagoda on the grounds.

Save your ticket stubs!


Volunteering is a great way to get to know a local community and give back a bit to the places that you choose to travel. There are lots of ways to do this, both organized and arranged privately, as well as impromptu opportunities that will pop up.

This list of volunteer opportunities in Singapore, will help you find a way to give, volunteer or fund raise for causes you care about. Please be advised that TAP is not recommending these, only presenting them as a list of possibilities. Vet your volunteer options carefully.

Live local

Get out of the hostel, rent a place in a local village, or do a homestay. Through websites like Airbnb it’s easy to find places to live locally.

Photo essay or a blog description of why living local was different than living in a hostel. How did this experience change the economics of your stay? What did you learn about the way locals live? What challenged you? What would you do differently next time?

Public Transportation Project

Take as many types of public transportation as possible.

Challenge yourself to take every type of public transportation available while you are in Singapore. Create a photo essay or videologue of your adventures. What did you learn?

Attend a Religious Observance

Singapore is a multi-cultural society with strong Chinese and Malay populations and influence. There is a thriving Little India, complete with temples. 33% of the population reports to be Buddhist and then there are a range of smaller percentages of the population practicing other religions. Take some time to attend various religious observances and see what you can learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. How does the religious climate in France compare with what you grew up with?


Food festivals, arts festivals, cultural festivals, music festivals, Formula 1 races, and the huge annual Chinese New Year celebration are just some of what’s going on in Singapore. Check out the festivals happening while you are in town and make sure to hit at least one. Take pictures, participate in the events, try the foods and party like a local!


How to Create Your Own Course Work

singapore garden


Learn to ask for what you want. If you meet someone interesting, ask them to teach you. Ask them for an interview. Ask to shadow them for a day or a week. You’ll be surprised at how eager people are to share what they know and teach when someone shows actual interest. Learn to ask questions. Learn to take social risks by putting yourself out there as a learner.


You have an idea or an interest. Something surprises you on your journey and all of a sudden you have a burning desire to know more. Plan your attack:

  • Narrow your field of study to a particular question or topic.
  • Compile resources: Look for teachers. Who knows what you need to know? Or who can you interview to learn more? Are there books or videos on the topic you’re interested in?
  • Quantify it. How will you demonstrate what you have learned? A research paper, a video project, a photo essay, through art or music, a blog post, a published piece, an interview series, a mini documentary or do you have some other idea?


Produce a quality piece of academic work that reflects your experiential learning. The whole key to quantifying outside the box learning is to translate it into something that reflects the value of what you learned and how it contributed to your overall educational process.

Perhaps this will be as simple as a traditional research paper, depending on the depth and length of your study this could be as short as three pages or as long as a dissertation. Maybe you’ll produce a video for YouTube, or something grander, like a mini-documentary. Perhaps you’ll do something concrete instead, an art, or community action project and you’ll tell the story through a photo essay, or a series of blog posts. The possibilities are limited only by the resources you have at hand. Get creative. Think outside the box and truly experience your education.


Do You Have Anything to Add to This Resource Page?

We’re actively seeking to grow these resources in an open-source spirit. Please email jenn(at)bootsnall(dot)com with your edits or submissions of new information or materials.

Thank you!

Photo Credit: f11photo /, Robby Fakhriannur /, EQRoy /