Eugene - National University of Singapore

B Science
Semester 2, 2019
If you do end up coming to Singapore, don't forget to feast at a Hawker centre!

Academic experience

As a final year student, my courses mainly consisted of third and fourth-year courses in order to gain credits towards my major. In all honesty, the course content was significantly more challenging than I expected, but by studying with friends and developing a routine, it was not impossible to handle. The enrolment process was slightly complicated and many exchangers did not receive all the courses they initially applied for, as such, I would recommend have numerous back-ups. Personally, I struggled to find enough relevant courses on the suggested list for exchangers and had to resort to finding more by sorting through NUS pages on the internet. I was able to participate in the NUS Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS), which is not usually open to exchangers, by sending a few emails to secure a research project with a professor. All in all, the NUS education system is quite different than what I was used in UQ both in their expectations and forms of assessment, but I feel that is part of the experience and opportunity to grow here.

Personal experience

In terms of personal experiences, the greatest takeaway from this exchange would be the friends made and insight received into Singaporean culture. As my friends were mostly Singaporean locals and some ASEAN students, I soon learned some phrases such as "Macs jio?" (Do you want to order MacDonalds?) and "Wah lau!" (Generally just means you're shocked at something). After the semester had concluded, I was grateful for the opportunity to crash at some of their houses, learning about what life is like in Singapore as well as sharing some of my experiences from Australia. Also, the college I was in provided the opportunity to volunteer with children in Cambodia through an Overseas Community Involvement Project (OCIP), which was truly an eye-opening experience.


I lived on campus at Tembusu College located within University Town. In terms of housing, this seemed to be both the most affordable and convenient option available with free shuttle buses around NUS. However, I have heard of exchangers not receiving a spot in university accommodation and there were a few living in accommodation options around the university and within the city. These were often considerably more pricey.


Personally, using Singaporean Dollars, the rent cost $4000 for the semester whilst food and transport were around $3000 more. Finally, entertainment and other activities cost approximately $2000 for me as well as $1200 for the plane tickets. It's noted the cost of living in Singapore can vary considerably based on the purchasing decisions you make. A meal in a mall can be upwards of $25 whilst $3 at a Hawker centre. I would also recommend opening a local bank account as it allows you to use apps such as paylah which is widely used among university students.


The exchange allowed me to learn more about Singaporean culture and society whilst really enjoying myself, but amidst all the fun experiences, I did feel a little isolated and homesick at times. The semester abroad could seem a little daunting and began to affect my mental health. Fortunately, I was able to establish a support network of friends both in Singapore and back at home (often a skype call will do wonders) which really helped lift my mood. Though I did not personally explore this avenue, NUS also offers counselling sessions and other resources if needed and an email or call back to the UQ Global Experiences team will never hurt as they can assist in such situations.

Professional Development

The exchange in Singapore helped grow my Asia-capable skills through a better understanding of the culture as well as technical skills by learning from one of the top universities in the world. There were opportunities to network and learn from fellow students as well as representatives and academics from a variety of fields. Further, NUS hosts and provides details on various hackathons, internships, and other opportunities. This includes the Public Health Challenge aimed at improving the well-being of NUS students through addressing concerns relating to unhealthy eating and physical inactivity. Within this competition, workshops and seminars were provided with the opportunity to develop skills in addressing problems using public health approaches and models, as well as gaining insight into nutrition and physical activity issues within a Singaporean context. Finally, a pitch within a team was required whereby winners were provided the opportunity to spend future months working with stakeholders to push out and implement the project proposed. This opportunity truly helped grow my understanding of both public health within Singapore and project development on a whole.


The highlight of my experience was participating in the NUS Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme in Science (UROPS) where I had the opportunity to complete a research project evaluating glycosaminoglycans in breast cancer. This allowed me to gain research skills as well as insight and experience in the research sphere within Singapore. Being able to finally use my studies to do some real research towards cancer was quite rewarding.

Top tips

Probably the single biggest tip I can give is to keep an open mind. Of-course it’s good to have an understanding of what you want to get out of the exchange, but sometimes you have to let go of a preconceived notion of what your exchange will be like. Relying on memories of my previous trip to Singapore, I believed this exchange would be full of trips to the city, enjoying times along stunning views like Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa island. I soon found myself stuck in university town learning how to play Captains Ball with local Singaporean students whilst trying out seafood I’d never had before. An open mind will help you stay positive no matter what happens during your exchange and often immerse yourself in the culture so much more whilst enjoying your time.