Chun-Yin - Nanyang Technological University

B. Engineering
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

Courses I studied: 

  • Compiler Techniques
  • Operating Systems
  • Software Engineering
  • Cryptography and Network Security

There are a lot of similarities between NTU and UQ. The way courses are taught - with lectures, tutorials and practicals are almost identical. The way we are assessed - with assignments, quizzes, mid semesters and finals are also the same. However, the main difference was the significantly reduced number of assignments we received during the semester in comparison to UQ. This does not mean local students who study at NTU have a lot of free time, as they are required to do 6 courses every semester. In comparison, I only had to do the equivalent UQ full-time load of 4 courses. 

I had never appreciated UQ's course profile for the past three years I have been studying at UQ before the exchange. At NTU, there were no set dates for our assessments. They were often changed during the semester on a whim of the course organizer. It was difficult to plan my timetable, as assessment dates were subjected to change. UQ also had a fabulous sign-on process. At UQ, the sign on process is extremely versatile, doing its best to accommodate most of the student's timetable constraints. UQ allows us to pick any combinations of classes and may possibly open up new classes when classes exceeds the limit. Whereas in NTU, I was assigned to 6 courses to choose from out of at least 10 courses that I had to express my interest in. (Note: If I was a local student, these are the 6 courses I have to do without any other choice) There was also no flexibility in choosing classes within a course. Classes were separated into multiple "modules" that contains the combinations of class times that could not be customized.

Personal experience

What amazed me about Singapore was the culture of the people. Around the world, it is common to see tensions arise due to religious or cultural differences. However in Singapore, this is non-existent. Despite being a culturally diverse country with multiple primary languages, religions and ethnicity that are significantly different to each other, they are able to live in harmony between different religious and cultural communities. 

Singaporeans are also one of the hardest working people I have ever met. They always strive to achieve the best possible results in whatever they do. This could be either academics, sports or any other competitions. I joined a local basketball team, formed by a group of friends that enjoyed playing basketball for fun and participated in a local competition. There were no rewards in winning the competition, but that did not stop their competitiveness. I was amazed on the participation rate of their 5 hour weekly training. I was amazed considering the training was almost like a military camp, where we would either be running or drilling rigorously for the entire duration of the training on a limited supply of water. It was great fun, and I would encourage anyone to participate in any competition of their interest if you got the chance.

Accommodation

I lived on campus, and I would suggest anyone else to do the same. It was extremely simple and streamlined to register for an on-campus accommodation. NTU has around 20 halls (apartment blocks) on campus, with new ones being built. 

NTU has great facilities for students living on campus. They have multiple canteens, 2 supermarkets that open until 12am and a 24 hours convenient store. They also have great sporting facilities such as various sports fields, free gym access and free swimming pool access. The campus is so large, that they have free shuttle buses that transports you around the campus throughout the day, including weekends. 

Every hall has student activities almost every week, and they are a great time to meet new people, both locals and internationals. They also host "inter-hall games", which are competitions that involve different halls to compete with each other in sports or other activities.

Professional development and employability

I became significantly more confident in travelling and living by myself without knowing anyone in an unfamiliar foreign country. From the documentation, long term overseas expense planning and other travelling planning, they were all new to me and I have noticed I became a lot more confident and knowledgeable now.

Highlight

Joining the basketball team was the highlight of the exchange. The similarity in interest made me a lot of close Singaporean friends who would take me out to explore the country outside of the usual tourist areas. They would tell me about the average Singaporean lives and perspectives, their education system and what's the latest trending topics in Singapore. It made me feel like I was living at home and not just a temporary visitor living in Singapore.

Top tips

My greatest advice is to participate in local communities. Don't just participate in the university's activities, but explore their local communities as well. 

You do not have to participate in everything you find, just do those that interest you. Try to implant yourself into the local community and make yourself feel at home. I noticed that it was easier to fit in with other exchange students than to fit in with the local students. It can be difficult to fit into an established group. My advice is to try to join a club, society or activity of your interest, and your common interest is what will make you fit in without trying to force yourself.