Tariq - National University of Singapore

B Engineering (Honours) and M Engineering
Semester 2, 2022


I wanted to challenge myself to make new friends and learn about other cultures.

Personal development

I learned that you don't have to be the centre of attention to make new friends. Sometimes focusing on just a few friendships can allow you to form more deep and meaningful relationships. This is something I think I understand a lot better about myself now.

Academic development

This is a really interesting question actually. NUS is often ranked as one of the top universities in the world and I have to say that the students are definitely more engaged and more competitive about grades. This is attitude is reinforced by the university since they grade students in their subjects by comparing them rather than having cut-offs for certain grades. To be honest, I really am not a fan of this system. There were many scenarios where it felt like assessment was designed to needlessly separate students in ways that favoured repetitive study that built speed rather than a deeper understanding. This was probably exemplified by the algorithms and data structures course I took which was taught by a competitive programmer. I really enjoyed the content of the subject but I feel the assessment often needlessly reinforced competitiveness and focused on solving problem quickly (like in competitive programming) rather than assessing a depth of understanding. Honestly, it made me appreciate UQ's system and a lot of the fantastic staff that they have. I actually argued with some friends about why I thought university rankings were pretty meaningless for undergraduate degrees and while I think there is no question NUS produces some incredibly smart students, I can't say I prefer the academic system. The delivery of the content was good but I expected it to be excellent and I do think there is room for improvement.

Professional development

The biggest professional development opportunities I experienced were directly related to my contacting my lecturers and asking about internship/research experiences. One of my blockchain engineering professors had an interesting project and he sat down and chatted with me and even gave me some great advice about entrepreneurship. Another professor who I had for an IoT course told me about an internship opportunity as a Research Assistant with the Singapore Sports Institute. I ended up getting the position that involves making an application that can classify fencing athlete's movements from wearable sensors. I was already interested in embedded systems and this IoT course really showed me some of the amazing things they can do. This internship will help to build my data analysis skills which is very important for IoT embedded systems. I am interesting in learning more about biomedical engineering and I think these skills will certainly be useful if I go down that track.


There actually weren't any proper cooking facilities in the place I stayed so I could only have very simple meals such as cereal at home. Fortunately, Singapore has so much amazing food and compared to Australia it is quite cheap to eat out. Meals were usually $4-8.


The funding definitely helped! A large portion (maybe even all of it) went to flight, accommodation and food. I managed to fit in a few short trips in South East Asia too which I highly recommend since it is so convenient from Singapore.


Accommodation was tricky for sure. NUS does not have enough spaces on campus for all the exchange students which means you are not guaranteed a spot but on top of that, the results for their on-campus accommodation came out super late. Despite this, the accommodation on campus is definitely worth trying to get as it is a fair bit cheaper than off-campus and very convenient. I managed to get a spot but it was definitely stressful! After finishing the study I could not stay on campus so I needed to find accommodation while I completed my internship. While the food in Singapore is fairly cheap the accommodation certainly isn't. It is also tough finding accommodation for the short period of time that I am here for my internship since for a large portion of the housing is HDB which has a minimum rental period of three months. Thankfully I found something but I have to travel an hour either way to work which is not ideal. If you want a room off-campus be prepared to pay ~$800 per month at a hostel or minimum ~$1100 per month for a room with shared bathroom and these places will not be in convenient locations to get to campus. If you want that it will be significantly more.


Highlights would have to be some of the friends I made especially in the NUS Jazz band. We played an end of semester performance at one of the local bars which was good fun! Travelling a bit around South East Asia was also really great and no list of highlights from Singapore/South East Asia would be complete without mentioning the food. I love spicy food so some of my favourites were the Laksa, Mala Hotpot and Thosai.

Advice/Top tips

If you can afford it take the opportunity to travel around South East Asia early in the semester before study gets too hectic. Also have a look at some of the clubs/societies that your university has and join a few. It is a great way to make some new friends!