Exchange Interview: Singapore
Hi! My name is Ellen van Och, 21 Years old and I am in my third year of the bachelor IBA. Last semester, I had the chance to go on exchange to Singapore and I really loved it!
What reasons did you have to choose the country/city you went on exchange to?
In 2018, I joined the ITC to Singapore and Hong Kong with Asset | IB&M. I immediately fell in love with the city: it is super clean, modern, safe, and it’s always hot (which I like)! Besides, Singapore is a global business hub, and as an IBA student, this was very interesting to me as well. When I was there, I was already imagining myself living or studying here. One year later, I decided I wanted to go back to Singapore for my exchange!
There are many different places to visit in Singapore, so it was never boring living here. My favorite places to visit were Gardens by The Bay, Haji Lane, Chijmes, and Clarke Quay. Besides Singapore being a great city itself, it is located right in the middle of South-East Asia. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities to travel, for instance to Malaysia, Indonesia or Vietnam. We used to do a lot of traveling during the weekend, for instance, a trip to Kuala Lumpur.
There are three different universities that you can apply for: Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, and Singapore Management University. I chose to put SMU in my top 3 when applying for exchange. The university is located right in the city center but is surrounded by trees and flowers. It is easy to access underground with MRT, you can take the bus or walk. For my roommates and I, it was only a five-minute walk to reach the university. Hence, it was very special to experience the city at its fullest and study there at the same time!
Did you experience any culture shock?
As Singapore has a lot of Western influences, I did not experience a great culture shock. However, there are many cultures you can explore in Singapore: there’s Little India, China Town, and Arab street. Moreover, there are random temples and churches all over the city, just in between modern buildings and skyscrapers. I loved to explore all the different cultures, for instance by visiting the temples and trying the food. We used to eat at food courts because it is cheap and the food is very good! There are hundreds of them and it is, therefore, the perfect place where you can try all different kinds of food: Singaporean, Chinese, Malay, Indian, Thai, etc. In the beginning, I had to get used to the food (because mostly it’s very spicy) and sometimes I was craving Western food as well. However, right now I am missing the Asian food a lot, and would love to eat dumplings or a Thai curry again!
What was the best experience you had on exchange?
The most awesome experience during my exchange was the Formula 1 weekend in Singapore. The night before the actual race, we watched the qualifications on the highest rooftop bar in the city. Here we had an amazing view over the city and we were able to see a little bit of the circuit. After that, my friends and I had a great night out. The next day was a lot of fun, there were many artists performing during the day and after the race, there was an enormous firework show at Marina Bay which was truly impressive. The atmosphere during the weekend was amazing. Hence, even if you are not a big fan of racing, just like me, I still recommend you to go!
What was the biggest difference between TiU and your host University?
There are many differences between Tilburg University and Singapore Management University. For example, while we sit in a big lecture room with over two hundred people, at SMU lectures are for a maximum of 45 students only. It is very important that you are present in class, be on time, ask questions or answer them, as this will be part of your grade. Hence, this results in a lot of interaction and interesting conversations during class.
Moreover, SMU pays a lot of attention to presenting in front of class and group work. Singaporeans are very good at presenting in front of the class. Asians are stereotyped as being a little shy, so I think it’s very good that universities in Singapore learn their students to be comfortable in front of the class! Besides students being good at presenting and group work, they study a lot. They are very determined to get high grades and will spend a lot of time in the library. It was nice working with Singaporeans and getting to know them a little bit more!
The university also had a lot of facilities, for example, food courts, a swimming pool, and a gym (which were free!), and a doctor (also free). There are a lot of places where you can study or work together, and there is an area in the library open 24 hours a day. Besides that, there are a lot of associations, literally almost anything you can think of! They organize for instance wine tastings, cooking classes, and hikes.
“If you are able to, travel!”
Do you have any tips for anyone who is going or thinking about going on exchange?
If you are still in doubt whether you should go on exchange or not, I would recommend you to step out of your comfort zone and go! It might be scary to live in a totally different city, being far from your family and friends. However, this will be an unforgettable experience where you will meet amazing people and learn a lot about the country you live in. Moreover, as you will live on your own, you will learn a lot about yourself as well. Besides, if you are able to, travel!
I wish all students going on exchange next semester or next year a lot of fun! Have a good time!