Hello from Singapore!
Today marks the 50th day of being on exchange. After sharing this information with my roommate, we’re both in agreement that we’re staying another semester, because it’s gone way too quickly. I never really believed people when they told me the time would fly, but now I’m pretty sure of it.
Life at NTU is quite different from UTS. The campus itself is huge, located in the west of Singapore away from the main city. Free buses run around campus, which often get packed very early on in the day as students escape from the 35°C heat and 75% humidity. Like UTS, NTU has some interesting architecture, with all my classes being held in a building appropriately called “The Hive”, resembling a beehive. Sustainability is a big focus here, given the amount of energy needed to power air-conditioning constantly; so facilities often take a modern and eco-friendly design.
The newer facilities have classrooms focused on collaboration between students, with every tutorial involving some sort of short group presentation from our table. I find there is less interaction between the professors and students than back at home, but each class always involves open discussion. The culture of university and studying here is quite competitive, as each class is graded using a ranking system. It reminds me of a mini HSC for every course. Whilst it ensures the grading is fair across every subject and takes scaling of marks into account, I think it can foster an unhealthy mindset and can occasionally prevent students from working together. In that aspect, I do prefer the grading systems we use back home to lessen the pressure off everyone.
My subjects are really interesting, and aren’t what I expected. I’ve used my free elective on Buddhism, learning about the history and culture of pre-modern Buddhism around Asia. Given the focus on Western religions in Australia, I have never studied Eastern religions, so it’s been great to dabble in history as a break from my science courses. I also take Medicinal Chemistry, Cognitive Development and Evolution in Health and Disease as my direct equivalents. Having a large focus on technology, I’ve found my Evolution course uses a lot of genetics software, which I’m having to get used to, but it’s been a good learning curve. Interestingly I don’t have any practicals or labs, which is a major part of studying science at UTS.
Food is a huge plus which I can’t not mention. The campus has canteens everywhere, which all have different food outlets that are lots of fun to try. The closest food court to my residence hall has $3.50 ramen and $3 fried dumplings which I’ve definitely developed an addiction to. Fresh Indian food has also been amazing, with $6 rice, curry and roti prata freshly made. I’m trying to stay away from Western food, but can’t help myself from doing a Maccas run every now and then on campus.
Aside from university, Singapore is a beautiful city that is rich with so many different cultures, given how close it is to the rest of Asia. Having lived in the country before, I was so excited to return and see what had changed, and visit places I fondly remember. It’s easy to travel to nearby countries on weekends because of how close it is to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia (to name a few), and with the amount of exchange students here, it’s not hard to find a group to go with. I’ve loved the experience so far, and am so excited for the rest of the exchange.
Bachelor of Advanced Sciences
Nanyang Technological University
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.
For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au