Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Getting fit at the National University of Steps

A popular name for NUS around campus is the National University of Steps. The campus is situated over a series of hills. All of the buildings on campus go up and down to accomodate the terrain. Many of my classes next semester will be in the Faculty of Engineering. They have about 10 buildings all linked by covered walkways and staircases. It's a bit like an MC Escher painting. Today I went looking for the discussion room I'll be using for tutorials. I went up some stairs that climbed a hillside to the engineering canteen on the ground floor of one building. I went out the other side, up some more stairs and ended up on the 4th floor of Engineering Building 1. After going along an outdoor walkway, I ended up on the 6th floor of Engineering 1A. Down another a small flight of stairs and I found a cafe on the 2nd floor of Engineering 2. I gave up looking for the classroom by myself and stopped to have lunch. On the way back, I got lost and went up and down 4 more flights of stairs to reach my office out-of-breath.

In Malaysia, I drove almost everywhere because buildings are spread out like in the US and there are seldom sidewalks or other safe places to walk. My first week here in Singapore felt like the first few days of a backpacking trip -- my feet swelled, blisters developed, knees ached and I was often winded. Now during the second week, my muscles and joints are no longer complaining and I'm not as often out-of-breath. The National University of Steps is making me fit after the soft life in Malaysia.

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