Nicholas - Nanyang Technological University

B Engineering/Science
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange was an invaluable experience for me to develop both socially and academically in ways I never even considered before going.

Academic experience

While at NTU I studied four engineering courses, two of which being final year specialized courses. I originally planned to study courses from both engineering and physics schools for my dual degree but after arriving I discovered that the timetabling (both class times and exam times) is very difficult and any sort of course clashes are forbidden at NTU; which meant out of 10+ courses I had approved only one combination was possible. For anyone planning to do courses for credit towards their degree I would highly suggest having more than the recommended number of courses approved before arrival at NTU since the class schedules are only available just before classes start (however the exam times are available well before so check those first for clashes). The class enrolment is processed in an online waitlist system over several days, which produced mixed results for most exchange students I met, luckily mine was processed in the first round, however the process is well explained so just read the instructions they email you.

A note for engineering students, most of the courses now are "TEL" meaning they are only taught online and you only attend tutorials in person, I discovered this only after I arrived and I found it disappointing spending hours watching lectures online and it requires much discipline to keep up. I enjoyed the courses where I attended lectures in person much more as I met a lot more people. Additionally courses with "design" in the title (ie. Digital design with HDL)  are meant to be small courses only, so don't have as much contact hours however I got one approved as a full course at UQ; you will find locals tend to study 6-8 courses each semester however this is very intense so most exchange students stuck to 4 or 5 courses, again have lots of choices approved. NTU has a great campus with lots of facilities and a strong student-experience focus so it is a very welcoming environment to study in.

Personal experience

Going on exchange to Singapore was highly rewarding both in the cultural experiences I had and all the friendships I made. Due to its small land area and regional location, most exchange students here take the opportunity to travel to many of the nearby countries; personally I visited both Hong Kong and Vietnam during the mid-semester break, however some other exchange students studying less intensive courses where able to travel almost every weekend. NTU has an excellent student clubs culture with many available to join (mostly for free) and most of which being very active throughout semester with lots of opportunities to mingle with local students. I had a great time with the sailing club and it was a great way to make friends with other exchange students as well as locals.

Accommodation

I lived in on-campus housing during my exchange, as did the vast majority of all undergraduates at this university both local and international. Due to the large number of buildings required to house this many students the quality of your accommodation can depend on whether you are assigned a room in a newer or older building complex. I was lucky to get one of the most recent halls (pioneer hall) which came with aircon and many amenities such as a gym, food court etc. Even if you get a less modern room without aircon it's okay as I tended to use only the fan mostly anyway (note you have to pay to use aircon).

Costs

The room rent is cheap however the exact price is determined by the complex you are assigned to and whether you get a single or double room. The food is very cheap on campus and was always excellent with great variety available; I would recommend budgeting around B-$2-4, L-$4-7, D-$4-9 SGD (food outside campus is typically only a few dollars more). The student card doubles as a cash card that can be used to pay for public transport which is also cheap however within campus the uni provides a free bus service which also goes to the local MRT station.

Challenge

Apart from the trouble I had trying to getting courses scheduled, I found there was always lots of support available from the university and other students. Language was not really an issue as nearly everyone at NTU speaks English. Due to my particular courses, I ended up having minimal contact hours and was left to study on my own for the remainder of the time, this meant I didn't have much opportunity to meet the other people in my courses. However I found a better way to make friends was to join many of the clubs they have at NTU. In particular the exchange students club (GEM club) and the sailing club were where I made most of my friends.

Professional Development

Singapore has such a rich mix of different cultures and nationalities, and it was very rewarding being able to interact with such a wide variety of nationalities in the students at NTU. Additionally the engineering department at NTU is huge so it was great being able to explore the academic/industry opportunities for future career development.

Highlight

Joining the sailing club for me was a big highlight of my trip. While Singapore is not the ideal destination for such a sport, the small size of the club meant it was a great way to make friends with both locals and exchange students and we regularly went out to do fun activities as a group. I also enjoyed the opportunity to travel to some of the other countries around Singapore during my exchange all of which are a sort flight or bus away and easily do-able in a long weekend. Singapore also hosts many festivals and international events so budget some cash so you can buy tickets, for instance I attended the F1 while on exchange.

Top tips

Plan plenty of courses that you could study here before you decide on this university as it can be a pain if your degree is quite restricted. I would budget plenty of extra cash if you come to Singapore because exchange students here tend to take a lot of trips to nearby countries throughout the semester, however this is not such a bad thing because traveling to these countries from Singapore is a ton cheaper than coming from Australia. At NTU getting accommodation on campus is highly recommended as staying in one of the halls gives you opportunities to meet other students if you participate in the hall activities. Join as many clubs as possible, they all have fun activities and are mostly free to join.