Probably the most frequently asked question in Singapore, apart from whether I like the food, was probably why I chose Singapore as my place to study. My answer was always the same: “English language, good reputation, cleanliness and safety and it is the ideal starting point for all of South-East Asia”.
But first things first.
Arrival / enrollment / accommodation
After I decided to go to Singapore for the reasons already mentioned, although I didn’t know what to expect, things finally got serious in October last year. After the relatively uncomplicated application, where there was never any doubt as to whether one would be accepted, I booked the flight with the arrival one week before the introductory week. I was lucky that a good contact in Singapore had already arranged a room for two people for me. This room with bathroom and maid was rented by a very nice family and was only 6 bus stops from JCU, Upper Thomson Road. You have to know that rents are relatively expensive in Singapore. I paid $ 650 a month. However, this was sometimes one of the cheapest accommodations you can choose.
There is not much to report about the introductory week and enrollment at the university. The first two days of the orientation week were reserved for matriculation, which was relatively quick and easy for me. We were also invited for a trip to the Singapore Zoo, where we could get in touch with other international students.
JCU, Singapore is a small “branch” of JCU, Australia which has its headquarters in Townsville and Cairns. There are two different campuses in Singapore. The bigger and newer one, where most of the events take place, is at 600 Upper Thomson Road and the other is at 10 Ang Mo Kio St 55. You can’t complain about the supervision during the semester, there is a separate student office where you can will be helped with all questions. The professors were also always very helpful and accommodating. You are very flexible in taking subjects for your studies. Within the first 2-3 weeks you could change your chosen subjects again and choose from all fields of study.
In principle, attendance was compulsory at all events. During my stay, it was alleged that the already installed but not yet functional fingerprint system for attendance control would start up within the next semester (which I doubt, however). We used a list of signatures for every lecture and tutorial, but the lecturers rarely checked it for correctness of attendance. The degree of difficulty of the subjects also depends very much on which level you are attending. If you choose subjects from first-year students, the level is understandably very low, if you choose higher levels the level rises a little, but it remains far below German requirements. This is partly due to the very high number of foreign students who are around 90% and only very few can take advantage of their mother tongue, English. The exam dates are indicated on the timetable at the beginning of the semester, but the exact date usually changes within the trimester.
Leisure / travel
Now I come to the absolutely best part of my semester abroad, the leisure time. There are no limits here. Singapore is one of the best places to do a lot of exciting things in my opinion. From the countless bars and clubs in Clarke Quay and Boat Quay to the casinos (free entry for foreigners) and the island of Sentosa (with Universal Studios), there is a lot to do to beat the warm and hot days around your ears. A few short trips are particularly recommended, as the flights with AirAsia, Tigerairways or Jetstar are usually very cheap to get hold of. Places I visited were: Hong Kong, Langkawi (Malaysia), George Town (Malaysia), Bali (Indonesia), (Sabbah, Borneo, Malaysia) and Krabi (Thailand). Each of these places has its own special charm and I can only recommend it.
- Learn more information about Singapore and Asia on picktrue.
Singapore is not a very expensive city per se, with a few exceptions. These are housing, alcohol, tobacco and cars. Living is very expensive because land and space are the scarcest commodities. Alcohol, tobacco and cars are simply taxed very heavily by the state. For an Erdinger wheat beer in a simple pub you can shell out € 12 and for a local beer usually around € 9. However, these high prices are bypassed by most young people by meeting together in the early evening and partying a bit in advance. Here the most famous is probably the bridge over the Singapore River to Clarke Quay, where a lot of people meet before they scatter in the clubs, bars and discos.
The food is very cheap and you can get a full lunch / dinner for less than € 2 in the many food courts. Public transport is also very well organized, easy to use and inexpensive.
My semester abroad at James Cook University in Singapore met my expectations in every way and exceeded them in most areas. I can only recommend this exciting and varied city to everyone who is interested in the Asian region. It is the ideal combination of a Western standard of living with Asian roots. You meet people from all Asian regions and cultures. I claim that there is no other place on earth where such a peaceful and safe life, in the midst of different cultures and religions, is possible as in this beautiful and modern city. I don’t want to miss this semester with the many very nice and friendly people!