If you are looking for an exciting time in Southeast Asia – and also want to improve your English skills, you are in the right place in Singapore. I’ve been back in Germany for almost a month now and can say about my semester abroad in Singapore: I’ve experienced a lot. First about life in Singapore:
As a city city, Singapore is indeed a huge metropolis, but the core is still manageable. Public transport is awesome and absolutely affordable. Unfortunately, in contrast to many other activities that are quite expensive. For example living, partying, sometimes eating. Nevertheless, you can feel a pulsating dynamic in the city that carries you away; the almost four months on site went by in a flash. Even socially Singapore is very interesting and unique. Many different cultures and religions live together peacefully in a confined space (Singapore is roughly “only” the size of Hamburg). So you get to know the Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Indonesian and “Western” stereotypes – better still: the culinary variety – in one fell swoop. I found a room in a shared apartment relatively quickly in a state-built apartment block. Living in a shared flat with a Chinese Singaporean and a British worked wonderfully. I had to pay around 600 euros for the 15 square meter room, which was a good catch for Singapore. The rents there are enormous, sometimes a windowless 7 square meter room costs more. You should make sure that there is air conditioning, because it becomes your very best friend after two weeks at the latest – the climate is brutal, but at least not cold.
All kinds of activities are catered for in Singapore ; Financial district, the Sentosa Peninsula, hiking trails, parks, adjacent islands, museums, food courts, and and and. In my opinion, the standard of living is comparable to that in a major European city. Unfortunately, everything is halfway sterile, which many also like. The tough laws that chew chewing gum across the street and punish food on public transport with draconian penalties seem to be firmly anchored in people’s minds – but everyone secretly smuggles chewing gum in from neighboring countries. It’s also a funny experience to feel a little criminal when you secretly take a sip of water on the metro with chewing gum in your mouth. Probably the best thing about Singapore is not Singapore at all.The connection to all Southeast Asian countries is optimal and not too expensive. I was able to fly to Vietnam and Myanmar for long weekends during the semester. After the exams, I traveled through Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand as a backpacker for two more months. Everyone can imagine that this is fun. But let’s not forget that you also had to study a little…
Since I’m studying at a large public university in Germany, the Study Abroad Program at James Cook University Singapore was really a contrast – with all its advantages and disadvantages. I liked the very manageable size of the campus and the course participants. You can tell from the service mentality of the employees that it is a private university. A brand new building with a good cafeteria and great study opportunities, in the middle of Geylang, an entertainment district, were very pleasant. The mood among the students was overwhelming. We were around 100 international students, including study abroad students and those who had completed their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, mix quickly. I got to know an incredible number of different interesting people and there was a lot of celebrating together. Since most residential complexes are equipped with pools, BBQs and gyms, you can quickly find the right locations for after-university life.
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On the other hand, the competence of the lecturers and the depth of the content of the courses can be expanded. Of course, I can only do one of my four business studies-Talk courses. And I don’t want to complain either, because studying is certainly not the top priority in the semester abroad. But anyone looking for top apprenticeship – or research – is out of place here. The type of teaching is rather similar to that of an upper school. However, the workload should not be underestimated. As a rule, four achievements are required in each subject in order to pass the course. So it starts very quickly with group work, presentations and essays and ends with a final exam. I perceived the required tasks as hard work. The many group work and presentations with the most diverse compatriots is definitely an enrichment. The exams are easy to manage with a few weeks of study effort. It took a lot of getting used to the compulsory attendance, which is checked every day by fingerprint. The feeling of “tapping into” both on campus and in the classrooms remains uncomfortable or at least annoying. The main issue here is that the state wants to prevent a student from working in a company; they are pretty protectionist there. Which is also quite positive:the university organizes many events where you can eat and get together. In contrast to the following anecdote, I can see the sense in these events that James Cook University spends money on intercultural events. The fact that we were given selfie sticks branded with the JCU logo as a welcome gift really annoyed me. I would have liked to have invested our high fees, which are charged there, in good professors rather than in selfie sticks! In Asia I was admittedly in the minority with this attitude.
All in all, despite the criticism, it was a great time, in which you learned a lot about other cultures and even more about your own. I would go to Singapore again at any time and I can recommend it to everyone to let themselves be carried away for a few months in the hot and exciting Southeast Asia.