Chinese New Year is usually associated with bustling crowds, uproarious chatter and family reunions. But with COVID-19 in the air, it was a muted affair for most, especially for international students like Jeenie Ousangdikul from Thailand.
She had just arrived in Singapore as a first-year student at the Singapore Management University in January, but she was already feeling homesick.
“It was especially during Chinese New Year when I missed my family as we celebrate it back home, and I felt quite lonely as everything was closed,” said the first-year marketing student, who is staying at CP Residences at Centrepoint.
Then one day, while in her apartment, she heard a knock on the door.
“I wasn’t expecting anything. Then I realised a CP staff had left a little gift bag with mandarin oranges and a New Year message. It was so cute, and it made my day,” said the 19-year-old.
It is Jeenie’s first time living overseas, and it was daunting at the start, especially in the middle of a global pandemic with many travel restrictions. “The original plan was for my mum to come with me and help me to settle down, but she could not because of the pandemic. I came alone and felt nervous at first.”
But Jeenie settled down quickly as her accommodation was arranged before her arrival. While she was still in Thailand, she found, to her dismay, that SMU’s student dormitory was full. She came across CP Residences on TikTok and got in touch with Marketing Executive Aqilah Adnan.
“Aqilah was super fast and super nice and patiently replied all my queries,” said Jeenie. Aqilah even arranged for a virtual viewing with Jeenie and her mother through a WhatsApp video call, and they confirmed the booking on the same day.
Soon, Jeenie touched down in the Lion City. On her first day out after her Stay Home Notice, Aqilah gave her clear instructions on how to travel to her apartment at Centrepoint in Orchard Road. Jeenie said: “The atmosphere at CP is very welcoming. My housemates helped me with questions about the laundry machine, stove and gave me tips on how to walk to the MRT station through the sheltered malls!”
Now, Jeenie is even playing host to her friends from SMU, which is just a 10-minute walk away. She often has them over to study and cook, making use of the fully-equipped kitchen, which she shares with her housemates. “We cook some trendy food like pancakes and pasta!” said Jeenie.
Sometimes, when she wants something more readily available, Jeenie just hops down to the Japanese supermarket Don Don Donki at Orchard Central, which is open 24 hours. “We go down at night to get the food at reduced prices, which I eat for breakfast the next day. Or just to eat some ice cream!”
Now that she is comfortably settled, Jeenie is looking forward to her next four years of education and has plans to work in Singapore too. She said: