NUS:DBS Case Competition, Singapore
Aside from a slight flight scheduling mix-up, our flight to Singapore went smoothly. Cathay Pacific’s new 747-400s are a joy to ride, shortening the 13+3-hour ride to Singapore through extensive food & entertainment options. Our first meal in Asia, Arisen Ramen in Hong Kong airport, reminded us of what we’ve been missing out on in America.
The contrast between Singapore proper and Berkeley cannot be understated. Its regimented aisles of flowerpots and perfectly trimmed shrubbery, ready to be converted into emergency runways within 30 minutes, are on the far opposite end of the spectrum from Telegraph’s colorful urban life. Our hotel, situated in the heart of the city, found us near major shopping centers and tourist attractions – an auspicious start to our week abroad.
Our ambassador, Meghna, welcomed us with gifts and advice; more importantly, she took us out to eat at Timbre, a Singaporean pizza restaurant. There, we enjoyed specialty pizzas (Peking Duck & Sunny Side Up being our favorites) and Heineken. We met several of the other teams there, including the Finnish giants from Aalto, who purportedly swim under frozen lakes for personal amusement. However, taking the advice of Haas External alumni, we left in order to visit the Night Safari as soon as possible.
The Night Safari in Singapore is unlike any zoo we had visited before (with the exception of Li Sha, who is a native). It takes the form of a tram ride through an artificial rainforest filled with exotic creatures, from lions to tigers, giraffes to hippopotamus, leopards to hyenas – a uniquely concentrated panoply of animals. At one point, we were able to disembark and explore on foot: the steel double doors and dim lighting recalled Jurassic Park to mind. The bat exhibit was incredibly intense. They surrounded you and flew about you, never making contact yet always within arm’s reach. That soon cured us of our sleep deprivation and jet lag.
The next day, we went on a scavenger hunt throughout Singapore, which turned out to be a sanctioned excuse to try out all sorts of Singaporean delicacies. Hainan Chicken Rice was the first on our must-have list, and it exceeded even our loftiest expectations. Sam Mai declared that he would marry it at the earliest opportunity. We also enjoyed their shaved ice, chili crab, and other famous foods.
On the third day, we had the opportunity to visit DBS, an Asian financial services firm which sponsored the case competition. We actually visited their trading floor, where we found impressive arrays of screens manned by furiously typing traders. Following a presentation on DBS’ future growth and target image, we headed over to Universal Studios at Sentosa Beach. It is largely similar to the LA version, albeit with somewhat fewer rides and much shorter lines. We ended up spending much of our time with the team from the University of New South Wales, an Australian University.
We also took a picture with the Merlion at Sentosa, representing CAL. The sculpture is actually quite impressive, and apparently tourists can go inside and climb up to the top for a fee, much like our Statue of Liberty. What’s more impressive is that there’s something like 5 or 6 of them around the city, of which we ever only saw a couple. Supposedly the one we took pictures with is the biggest and best – at any rate, we were impressed.
This case competition was a unique opportunity for experiential learning. The Haas External program is exceptionally well run and a seminal part of all of our college careers. More than just competing abroad, or even travelling to another country, the greatest benefit for all of us on the fall Haas External team was the friends we made and the relationships we formed with the other schools there. In fact, on the last day, we swapped school t-shirts with UNSW, soccer player style. It was truly an honor to have represented UC Berkeley and the Haas School this semester, and all of us on the team encourage continued participation and support for the program.
Posted by Dinko Lakic for Louis Kao