Chris - National University of Singapore

B. Engineering
Semester 2, 2017

Academic experience

At NUS, I studied 'Data Structures and Algorithms 2' (CS2010), 'Signals and Systems' (EE2023), 'Introduction to Operating Systems' (CS2106) and 'Computer Communication Networks' (EE3024). These courses were credited towards COMP3506, ELEC2004 and CSSE2310 respectively. The courses with the 'EE' module code was found to be highly theoretical as opposed to the electrical courses I did at UQ. The courses with the 'CS' module code were pretty similar to the programming courses at UQ, in that there were programming problem sets that had to be completed periodically throughout the semester.

Some challenges that were apparent was the competitiveness of the students in each of the modules (NUS version of courses). On top of this, the grade that a student earned was determined on how well other students in the class performed. I was able to cope with this however as I had become friendly with the local students and we helped each other whenever either of us had doubts.

Personal experience

This exchange was definitely helpful when it came to my own personal enrichment. I had made friends with people from all parts of the globe. This opened me up to all the different views that people from around the world have with regards to a wide variety of social issues.

I spent all of my exchange in Singapore but never got bored of the area! As Singapore is a country that is culturally diverse, there are many places you are able to visit within Singapore to immersive yourself in the different cultures that are in the country. It's as if you visited 4 countries when you are there due to the varying cultures of the place. I didn't learn any new languages in Singapore as the language used most is English. I did however learn the accent of 'Singlish' as they incorporate elements of Chinese and Malay in their spoken English, especially in the food courts (called 'Hawker Centres'). After this exchange, I have found myself to be more confident in talking to different types of people.

Accommodation

I had lived on campus in NUS at the Prince George Park Residences (PGPR). This was a little farther from the rest of the uni but it wasn't a problem as there is a free shuttle bus service that runs within the campus. What I enjoyed the most about living on campus was the cheap food options which had quite a variety of cuisines. I would advise for staying on campus so that people can immerse themselves in the campus culture.

Budget

Singapore has a reputation of being dubbed as one of the most expensive cities in the world but I found it to be cheaper as a student than living alone in Brisbane. A major value of the city is that the necessities are cheap and luxuries are expensive. In total, I would have spent at most $6000 to $7000 SGD during my exchange. This would have included my student accommodation, food and travelling within the city. If someone was to do a lot of travel to other Asian countries during their exchange, I would recommend a budget of $10000 for the semester (the exchange rate of AUD to SGD is almost 1 to 1).

Professional development and employability

During my exchange experience, I would say I have become a more competitive student due to the nature of the academic system in NUS. I feel I have acquired a global outlook on my engineering profession.

Highlight

The food! There is such a wide variety of Asian cuisine that is available in Singapore that you simply do not experience in Australia, especially at such a low price point!

Top tips

  • Organisation is key if you want to participate in exchange. Unlike UQ, NUS only has a certain amount of places for each of the modules that they offer. So plan ahead by looking for every possible course at NUS that you think will be credited back towards your UQ degree. Always best to be on the safe side.
  • Get Accommodation within campus sorted! This would be the best option as you get to truly experience the campus life. It doesn't really matter what sort of room you end up getting. I ended up getting the room type B in PGPR which was a Single bedroom that only had a fan. After a week of adjusting to the weather, I could sleep fine with just the fan.
  • Make friends with the locals! When arriving in Singapore I had first met all the exchange students as it was required for us to arrive a week earlier than the normal students. While it is enticing to just stick with the other foreigners, I would suggest to mingle with the locals as they show all the relatively unknown places to foreigners and you get to experience cuisine that you personally would have never tried on your own!