Being part of BBA student exchange program is an invaluable experience. It is the only time in your life where you could have this opportunity. To live, study and immerse in different cultures, in a young crowd of the top university of Asia.
Singapore is not so different to Bangkok, Thailand in terms of climate and geographical location. However, the mixed culture and people lifestyles are extremely different, means that I have learnt so much during the 5 months there. Going to Singapore is all so fascinating, and also exhausting, in a totally positive way.
I enjoyed first-class education at The National University of Singapore. NUS is consistently ranked in the top 40 universities around the world, and was recently ranked the 4th top university in Asia. Teaching is in English, and it is widely spoken in the country. Well, I also had a chance to learn Chinese (Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese), Malay, and countless other languages spoken by the diverse population.
At first, I was surprised by people’s accent, it was “Singlish”. Even worse, some also talked to me in Chinese. However, I twisted my perspective positively and practice what I learned, realizing, this was a real-life-experience language course in Singapore!
How to survive in the first week?
Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world, going there alone is totally fine. I arrived at Singapore a week before school started. Since its tropical weather is quite the same as Bangkok in the rainy season, preparing my personal stuff was very easy. No worry if you forget something, you can easily get them from most supermarkets that open 24/7. Also, note that it sometimes rains showery. Small umbrella is a staple!
NUS provides in-campus accommodation for all exchange students. However, with advice and help from my cousin who currently works in Singapore, I chose to stay off-campus. Although it was quite chaotic in a first couple of days since the room was unclean and some furniture was missing, it was a great experience going to IKEA and got all problems figured out. I dedicated the last 4 days of the first week to Singapore’s tourist attractions such as Merlion and the Universal Studio at the Resorts World Sentosa.
Public transportation is very convenient! Two important necessities are an EZlink and “SingaporeMaps” application on iPhone. The EZlink is a smart card used for the payment of public transportation fares including Taxi, while the SingaporeMaps app is an offline map showing directions by car, taxi, bus, and MRT.
Also, bus arrival time and approximate fares are displayed. With both assistants, getting lost is impossible.
NUS arranged an incoming student orientation three days before the semester started. You should not miss this welcoming tea session! I was given a brief campus guide, class schedule, student ID card, and firstaid kit. Moreover, I had a chance to meet my local student buddy and other international exchange students from all over the world, including Thai students from Chulalongkorn University. Staffs from the student affairs were very helpful. Also, peer advising leaders were there to promote official events and other interesting activities that would be organized in the semester.
Student pass will be given two weeks after semester starts. After collecting your student pass, you should open a bank account. It could facilitate you as most payments are online. One telling example involves pre-paid telephone card. DBS bank is recommended as one of its branches is located at the campus.
How to prepare for studying?
Course timetable, syllabus, assignments and class materials are provided on NUS online student server, IVLE. You will learn how to use them later on. Second hand textbooks are available at a discounted price on IVLE too. Library allows you to print out class lectures cheaply.
There is a big difference regarding workloads and learning styles, but essentially, there is no structural difference in courses and exams here to ones at Thammasat. Competitiveness is relatively high. Normally, sectional class is three hours and lecture class is two hours with one additional hour of tutorial. Modules’ difficulties are vary, however; most of them give a similar workload of extra reading and group assignments. You should not worry about the group project, local students are impressively helpful! Also, the lecturers and TA are all fascinating and excellent. You can talk to them after class if you confront with any difficulties.
Lifestyle and Activities you should not missed!