DATE has truly been a chill and recovery trip for me where I can finally have some respite from the hectic lifestyle back in SUTD. Amid enjoying my time here, I have learnt a lot within this short span of 3 months, whether it is through the lessons that I have attended or the trips that I have been to. These broad-spectrum of activities have been both an eye opening and overwhelming experience. Time flies and now it is time to head back to Singapore.

 

Work

During the first month in 浙江University, we were given the opportunity to visit a wide range of recommended companies, such as Geely, Hikivison and many more. These help to kick start our journey in DATE, broadening our perspectives and opening our eyes to the current technologies available in China. Through these excursions, I found out that there were currently many readily available products that have already solved a multitude of our problems we assumed have not been tackled back in Singapore.

Following, we had to attend Origami and Design Fiction lessons. Looking back, the Origami lessons were noteworthy, integrating origami with electronics. Through these lessons, I had more hands-on experience with the use of Arduino that I was previously inadequate in. By the end of the lessons, we were assigned to create an interactive origami with the use of sensors. We burnt a few late-night oils in order to assemble a functional interactive origami bot named “龙” that we were gratified at.

“龙” our origami dragon

After which, we had Design Fiction lessons, where we were tasked to combine the use of Photoshop and Premiere Pro and create a video by the end of the lesson. Since it only spanned over 4 lessons, there was not as many take away as the Origami lessons, but it got me inspired to start working with Premiere Pro again.

Thereafter, we began to focus more on our main project where we were split into 9 different groups. By the end this final project, we were tasked to create a working product. We began to grind for multiple days and weeks to innovate and improvise on our product till Week 13 Friday, where we will have our final presentation by all 9 themes. Over these past 5 weeks, I have picked up a lot of new skills and knowledge such on Android Studio and Raspberry Pi as we worked on our product. Although it was homogeneous to Design term back in SUTD, it had a different ambience, working in a new environment, with a different group of people as well as receiving feedback and perspectives from the Professors here.

I sincerely enjoyed the final DATE presentation with the showcase of innovative and divergent ideas by 9 groups. Before the presentation, I felt jittery yet excited to hear other group’s ideas. It was really satisfying and fascinating to understand more about other group’s products. Furthermore, it was such a pleasure to see other groups’ hard work pay off during their presentation. On top of that, at the end of the presentation, my group also manage to win the best presentation award and we felt contented since our hard work paid off. Overall, everyone truly did a great job for both the project and presentation.

Day of presentation (9th August 2019 aka National Day)

Theme 9 – Last-mile Delivery

 

Traveling

Aside from working hard, we also played hard. Many of us traveled a lot during this short span of 3 months within China, to different provinces. In total, I have traveled to 黄山, 苏州, 上海and many other places within 杭州 like 西湖. At different provinces, I was greeted with a different aura which was truly wondrous.

At 黄山, my friends and I saw majestic mountains and scenery that was really an eye opener since it was my virgin hike. Unlike the hills in Singapore, this was 1.8km tall and we finally had a taste of a real hike. The view was truly picturesque, and the ambience was tranquil. It was a great way to begin my first month within China when the workload was not so hectic. Although the hike up was arduous but it was a great form of exercise accompanied with the scenic greenery.

Scenic view at 黄山

For 苏州, it was mostly famous for their historical gardens and parks. I visited the Humble Administrator’s Garden and Zhou Zhuang water town which had many impressive ancient architectures. The serene atmosphere made us feel very relaxed while taking a stroll. Furthermore, I was tempted to visit the 苏州industrial park after reading about it in our secondary school social studies textbook and indeed it was very similar to Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands.

Humble Administrator’s Garden

 

Zhou Zhuang water town

Su Zhou industrial park

Lastly, I also went to 上海 which is known to be China’s biggest city and a global financial hub. There were many high-rise buildings and skyscrapers as well as old majestic westernized buildings. The contrast between the old and the new buildings that was separated by the river made it distinctive from other cities. Also, they are well-known for their 小笼包 that was scrumptious and salivating. However, unlike 杭州, they are not as advanced in terms of using Alipay to pay for our transport fee across the gantry in the metro. Nonetheless, the night view at ‘The Bund’ in 上海 is simply spectacular with the aesthetically lighted view of the high-rise buildings!

Night view of ‘The Bund’

小笼包 – famous in 上海

First-hand experiences are always new and intriguing which makes me so enthralled by these adventures within China. Furthermore, these 3 travels each emitted different atmosphere, uniquely within their own province, making it so captivating.

Food

Other than traveling, we also tried a broad range of food in China. From school canteen, to food street, 外卖, and restaurants. The food in China is really CHEAP and delicious but at times too overwhelming. The price of the food can range from $1-3 and $7-10 for restaurant-standard food. The food also comes in a huge variety but mostly Chinese styled. On regular days, we would go to the food street or canteen for our meals, which is good and cheap. Whereas on other days, when we feel like splurging a little more, we would head over to the nearest shopping mall to eat at some of the restaurants such as 外婆家, 绿茶, 新白鹿, et cetera. It is much cheaper if you eat in a group. One of the most alluring food trips was visiting the “河马” supermarket, where you can get the opportunity to eat the food that you purchase immediately at the mart, comparable to Singapore’s Honestbee Habitat. The food there was supreme, especially the fish which you can catch by yourself. Also, there is 海底捞 here that is much cheaper than Singapore, where you can feast for up to $20-30 per person.

 

Food street outside our hostel (2-4 sgd per meal)

Restaurant food (7-10sgd per set meal)

Food at “河马” supermarket

In a nutshell, I truly relish my time here in China. DATE has indeed been such a fulfilling journey that satisfies both study hard and play hard and I earnestly value this once in a lifetime opportunity. Although it is all coming to an end, it will always remain as one of my most memorable and wholesome summer exchange. Thank you SUTD, ZJU, China, the people within DATE and my Summerfam/Sumvengers group for this memorable experience! 😊

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