story | Bilge Arslan, Prospective Student

 

The times during which we struggle are the most important opportunities to discover our real friends, family, and the great people we’re surrounded with. My EYW experience was slightly different than those of others, but it was also one that made me appreciate this crucial life lesson.

I met my first friends of EYW immediately after my plane landed in Changi Airport. Without knowing of each other’s presence, we had been flying for eleven hours in the same plane. This led to us exchanging our very first words together, and I swear the big smiles on our faces lasted for the entirety of the next few days. As I witnessed Singapore’s uniqueness for the first time through the car window, our conversation expanded with each of us talking about our nationalities, where we live, and what we liked to do in our free time. As I was being driven to Yale-NUS, my brain kept comparing what I had watched in videos of Singapore (I had watched anything I could find about Singapore and Yale-NUS prior to coming) and what I could actually see from my car window. My apprehension of the unknown quickly disappeared, leaving in its place a growing sense of excitement.

When we arrived the hotel, the welcoming and smiling students made me forget the humidity and the distance from my family, and the people around me immediately turned the YWCA—where we stayed—into a place I could call “my home”. That evening, I got to walk around Singapore, watch the light show at Marina Bay Sands, and socialize with my fellow peers. I became more and more fascinated and I could already feel how vibrant and diverse the Yale-NUS community was after finally being able to meet everyone whose introductions I had read on the Admitted Students Facebook page.

To be honest, I had already been expecting to talk to many amazing people during EYW, so the fascinating conversations did not come as a surprise. However, things evolved a little differently than I expected that night.

Before going to bed, I remember talking to my roommates who also arrived early, complaining about how tiring my eleven-hour flight was. I later learned that my Colombian friend had flown twice as long as me. Listening to stories of her life and aspirations, and seeing her brave, determined character hidden under her warm smile, I was sure that I was going to meet lots of inspirational and life-changing friends here.

Unfortunately, after that, I became ill in the middle of the night and I only recall two things about the rest of the night: a really painful injection and a lot of helpful people.

I distinctly remember how as soon as I called the emergency number, Lauren Schroeder, the Manager of Admissions and Financial Aid, was there. I felt comfortable and safe right away, as Lauren herself had actually interviewed me for my Yale-NUS admissions interview! In fact, that interview with Lauren (whom I think is the friendliest and funniest interviewer I had ever met) had really inspired me to consider attending this College, as it really helped clue me in on how people at Yale-NUS are like.

Thankfully, a lot of factors prevented my Experience Yale-NUS Weekend from turning into just an Experience National University Hospital Weekend. Being in a hospital in another country, sleeping there for one night, and watching all the hospital rush from my bed were very frightening for sure. My roommates were also very much concerned about me and their text messages really kept me alive while I was staying in the hospital. I should thank Berke for staying with me and providing me with the energy I needed. He did his best to make me feel the EYW spirit and we chatted long hours about the school, the courses, life in Singapore etc.

When the time finally came for me to be discharged, I cannot forget how Lauren was there for me as always. Stepping out of the hospital, I breathed the air with great joy, felt the shining sun on my skin and realized how much I even missed the humidity. I found Singapore much more beautiful than it was two days ago and I couldn’t wait to join the others.

The rest of my weekend was like a dream. I got the opportunity to talk to current students, including members of The Octant and Women in Business, and they all had truly inspiring world views. Back in my country now, I look forward to coming back to do all the things I missed!

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