Emily - Singapore Management University

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2023


My motivation was to improve on my inter-cultural communication skills and Mandarin Chinese language ability. I also am very interested and wanted to take my study toward the direction of South East Asian politics as I believe Asian-Australian relationships in regard to politics and globalisation is extremely important to gauge an understanding of especially in this current context of time, and in order to hopefully host a career in which I can travel between Australia and Asia for political matters.

Personal Development

I gained very strong friendships especially with other exchange students (i.e., the UK, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, America, Canada, etc.). I also learnt to be more independent, self-aware, and confident in my skills to live by myself in a foreign country surrounded by cultures I was unfamiliar with and people I do not know. The main takeaway would be forcing myself to put myself out there and get out of my comfort zone.

Academic Development

This experience taught me to be more academically focused. I felt the academic standards and expectations at SMU were a lot higher than at UQ. For example, every single class was at least three hours long, participation was mandatory (questions don't count), and the amount of time I spent at the library in that one semester was more than I had spent at UQ library my whole degree. One of the main challenges was being able to keep up with the local Singaporeans in class as they are all very academically focused and being in class is almost like a competitive nature when trying to make an academically inclined comment about something relevant to the discussion going on.

Professional Development

Professionally, I felt I was able to be more confident in myself and my abilities. This experience definitely taught me to be organised and force myself to meet people to make connections/network which I believe will be a useful skill in my professional life.


The spending in Singapore, I would assume, is quite expensive compared to other places (which I did not expect. For example, I was paying around $1,600 SGD for rent each month which equates to $1,840 AUD. Buying groceries was expensive. Also, getting Grabs (Singapore equivalent of Uber) was also very expensive. However, buying street food from the hawkers centres and using other methods of transport such as the MRT or buses definitely made all the difference as they are very affordable. Therefore, it actually became cheaper to eat out every night for dinner than to cook something at home.


I received the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. This was extremely beneficial as I put this toward my rent which was my largest expense. I believe that without this grant I would not have been able to go on exchange as I would not have been able to afford it.


I found accommodation through an SMU Exchange Semester 1 2023 Facebook Page. I was in a Facebook group chat with three other girls all from Brisbane and together we found accommodation through that page. My living arrangement also gave me an experience into what life would be like if I was to be a local Singaporean student living there as I lived in co-living. This means I only paid for my room in a flat with four bedrooms, and had to share a bathroom with one other person, and a living room and kitchen with everyone in the flat. We did not get to choose who is in our flat therefore I was living with a local Singaporean woman in her late 20s, a Chinese woman in her 30s, and another Chinese woman in her 40s.


The highlight of my experience was being able to travel from Singapore to places like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Kota Kinabalu. Also, meeting so many good friends that I miss dearly is also my highlight.

Advice/Top Tips

I would advise future students to make sure to put yourself out there and get out of your comfort zone when meeting new people and new friends, and to also make an effort with the local students.