Rachel - National University of Singapore

B. Architecture
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I studied two architectural subjects needed to continue my Bachelor of Architecture degree as well as a couple of electives. My architectural subjects were rather similar to the Architectural Design and Architectural Technology courses I study at UQ, however, it was very interesting to design for a different place and different people. The enrolment process was a surprising challenge as it was really confusing and I was initially rejected from an essential subject for an unknown reason. Also, the Singaporean students were very hard working and it was more than mildly stressful trying to keep up with the standard that was expected of them. My main elective was less of a challenge but just as, if not more, interesting than my architecture subjects. I had the pleasure of studying Thai Painting and Drawing, a course that allowed me to immerse myself in SE Asian Buddhist culture while learning the fine techniques of Temple mural painting.

Personal experience

On this exchange, I grew as a person, both socially and in terms of independence. Due to the wonderfully packed exchange program at NUS, I made friends from around the globe, including students from Europe, Scandinavia, Canada and America. Furthermore, Singapore contains a huge mix of Asian communities and I joined a program called Octopus which allowed exchange students to visit a Singaporean house once a fortnight to experience their food and lifestyle. The location and status of Singapore virtually make it a central hub of activity in SE Asia and an excellent base for travelling. So naturally, I caught a bus over the border to Malaysia for the weekend and hopped over to West Sumatra for the mid-semester break. After the semester ended I travelled through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and arrived home with plenty of time before Semester 2 at UQ began, it was glorious.


I lived On-campus at NUS in a housing complex called UTown. The apartment style living was very comfortable and was surrounded by a huge lawn, a free gym, pool, several food facilities and both social and private study areas. The options within the multiple food courts were sorted by different styles of Asian cuisine. I gained a particular liking for the Teriyaki chicken at the Japanese stall. While it would have been nice to have cooking facilities beyond a microwave, the food was fantastic so they weren’t needed.


Kayaking through Thailand

I believe most if not all exchange students were living on campus which was very reasonable. The facilities, food and transport within the university were very cheap, however, recreational activities and meals off-campus were virtually the same price range as Australia. The rest of SE Asia (with the exception of Bali because so many Australians go there) was extremely cheap to travel around and flights from Singapore were very cheap. Despite this, it all adds up and at least $10,000 should be saved.

Professional development and employability

This experience really made me think about my future in architecture and which paths I want to explore to further my career in the design world. The large architectural firms in Asia are quite possibly the future of the occupation, and this exchange has made me consider working in Asia in the future


Traveling on a bus through Vietnam with friends I made in Singapore. Easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to and I met so many amazing people along the way.

Top tips

  • Don’t hesitate.
  • Don’t be afraid to try or go somewhere a little out of your comfort zone.
  • If you grab opportunities and keep an open mind, it's pretty hard not to have an amazing time.
Rachel - National University of Singapore