We had this morning free, so I worked on my application for a summer position at Zion National Park while Serene slept. We had lunch at 7-11, which kind of blew my mind because you can microwave the food you just bought while still inside the store. Apparently, this is something in the US that I have never taken advantage of. Serene says that 7-11 has been expanding to do a wider array of things over here in Asia, like laundry and postal service even. Who knew. Though I haven’t seen an actual 7-11 gas station yet.
When we finally did meet up for the day, we moseyed on over (okay it was more of a trot since Dr. Dan was leading) to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum on NUS campus. It was neat to see all of the phylums and classes that we had learned in our Marine Ecology course in Belize last month, and to see what I still remembered. There were loads of specimens in pristine glass cases all over, including an elephant skin and a spider crab exoskeleton that was nearly five feet across!
My favorite part of the museum was a short video recording of a man who works for Singapore’s National Parks, because he explained the importance of conservation and biodiversity. While listening to him speak, I could imagine myself holding a similar position someday back in the United States. I also stomped on some holographic crabs with Dr. Dan, and later folded one origami style according to the instructions there in the museum. When we were all finished with our exploring (well, I could have stayed for another few hours, but Singapore was waiting) Dr. Dan posed for a picture with a newfound friend in the lobby.
Later that day we had an insightful lecture at NUS by Joanna Coleman on urban ecology. The general lesson was that many cities have monocultures of trees, which is dangerous because of susceptibility to species-specific diseases or damaging insects. Ms. Coleman also explained the importance of zonation and different niches to the survival and travel of organisms inside the cities. Interestingly, many roadside trees don’t have the shrubbery that allows animals to move between them, making the trees into somewhat inaccessible islands. She also mentioned that some species appear to be native to cities! Who knew that human disturbance could lead to such a creation.
We ended the day by chatting over some laksa at the NUS food court, and then walking back to our hotel in the cool evening breeze. This course provides a lot of time for interpersonal bonding and funny connections. We’ve had many a laugh over nicknames, learning languages, and little jokes. We even saw a group of the drummers and dragon dancers right across the street as we neared home. Watching them perform in the fading light reminded me of how important it is to live life right into its creases, and to never lose excitement in daily life.