Henny Hasselknippe Dahl-Hansen
National University of Singapore
When applying for my exchange semester I knew that I wanted to go far away to experience new and exciting cultures. In addition, I wanted to apply for schools that have a good reputation, and considering that National University of Singapore is ranked as one of the top universities in the world, I found it as a perfect match for me. The fact that Singapore is a highly developed country, more similar to western ideals than Asian, also appealed to me as I would be far away, but still I could get a sense of familiar surroundings in some way.
The entire process of applying was much more extensive than I originally thought. Not only are there a lot of documents that has to be filled and sent to various parties, but also considering that Singapore is a very strict country, they have a lot of procedures that have to be followed and done in a particular way. However, it all worked out, and luckily it was much easier to deal with matters regarding courses etcetera when arriving in Singapore. As I decided not to live at campus, but provide my own accommodation, I lived in an apartment in the city with five other exchange students that we got through an agent we found when the first of us arrived in Singapore. Although this is more expensive I wanted to live in the city and not at campus considering that this is outside of the main city.
Since I am currently on my master studies I chose to read courses that were on a higher level. I thought they were all on master level, but as it turned out, a couple of them were on PhD level. This, in addition to the fact that I had to read five courses made the workload extremely big and tough. Considering that the master students enrolled at NUS usually take three courses at this level, I had to work really hard to get through my semester and pass all the courses. Even though I was prepared for working and knew that the level was high at NUS, I did not expect it to be as hard as it was. The classes on this level are also very small (about 4-20 students) and with very few exchange students, so I believe, after talking to other exchange students, that the student environment is better and a bit more “fun” on bachelor level.
The most important thing I have learned and realized during this semester is how much I can achieve and accomplish by working hard and determined towards a goal. My semester turned out a lot different than I originally thought, with an enormous amount of schoolwork, and not so much having fun and meeting new friends. Either way, it has been a valuable experience for me that I would not be without. For students who are thinking about taking an exchange semester I would definitely recommend it, but be sure to know what you are going in to. Do research about the different schools you are interested in, and read other peoples experiences. If you are on your master studies the level might be very different from bachelor when going to a foreign school, as I experienced at NUS, so make sure to take this into consideration when deciding where to go to.