Cheryl Saw

Date: June 2014 - August 2014 (6 weeks)
Degree: Masters of Marketing
Short-term Program: Summer GEM Trailblazer
Organisation/University: Nanyang Technological University
Host Country: Singapore

Saw 1Can you tell us briefly about your short-term experience abroad? 

I took part in a 6 weeks intensive business program at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. When you apply, you have a choice to do either 1 or 2 courses, depending on whether you need the electives, etc. I chose to do 2 subjects because this program technically fell in my final semester to complete my studies. I took “Accounting: A User’s Perspective” and “Leadership in the 21st century”. Both courses were set out quite differently; accounting was a mixture of local and exchange students but the leadership course was only for exchange students. It was really interesting to see what it’s like to study in Singapore as their education system was so different to the Australian system. There was a strong student-teacher hierarchy where it wasn’t exactly a casual environment that promotes interaction in class (i.e. group discussions, etc). However, the teachers and students were really friendly and because as an exchange student, they really want to know a lot more about your country, culture, etc. Because the leadership class was only for exchange students, there would be lectures and assessments but that wasn’t too taxing or difficult. We had a day for outdoor activities to carry out a few leadership-based challenges and that was the best day because it ended with a water fight, having a lot of snacks during our break (our professors were kind to provide us with food and drinks) and each of us got to receive a gift!

I would have time to travel around, sometime during the week and especially on the weekends. I took this opportunity with the other exchange students to explore Singapore’s attractions and eat their amazing food! Food is so affordable in Singapore that you can get a decent meal for $1.50 (this is the price you can get if you’re living out of the city). Because NTU is located about an hour away from the city centre, you can get around really easily with their public transportation system – it’s incredibly efficient! Most train stations would have a mall to help with getting groceries, shopping, etc so I didn't necessarily have to travel downtown everyday but in Singapore, being in the main city centre of Orchard Road, there are just so many amazing things to see and do! Some of my friends chose to travel to neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, etc but I chose to stay in Singapore with a few others – and we were lucky to catch the preview for the National Day parade, stumble across amazing rooftop bars, visit cat cafes (yes, you heard me!) and eat more food! I met the best people on exchange and had such an amazing time over there that I highly recommend anyone to take part in the program! 

Saw 2Can you see any benefits from this experience to your future career?

Definitely! I believe my ability to adapt and what I have learnt from being exposed to different cultures have given me a wider perspective to better improve myself for the future. When I was in Singapore, I got to see what it was like working in the International Office at NTU. This gave me so much insight of how things are run in Singapore compared to in Australia and has motivated me to travel and obtain a job overseas in the future. I believe I’ve become more open-minded from my time away and most importantly, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, which never would have occurred if I didn’t go overseas.

Why would your recommend this experience to other students?

I’ve always wanted to go for a study abroad experience but in my case, I never had a chance to do so until my final year of my postgraduate studies. I saw a lot of benefit from having an international experience from my friends and if possible, I wished I would have done more during my undergraduate studies. There really isn’t anything that can compare to your experience abroad – I met so many amazing people from across the world and the memories you make will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Taking on an international experience will no doubt, benefit you in the long term for your future.

Saw 3What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the short-term exchange program?

The best time to do it is when you’re at university because there’s financial support from the university, government scholarships and funding to assist you on your trip. There is also the Study Overseas team that is your first point of contact prior to your trip and they can help connect you with other returned or exchange students so you can get an idea of what it’s like in the country. It’s normal to be slightly anxious if it’s your first time travelling out of Australia or if it’s your first time travelling alone, but there’s so much to look forward to once you’re on the plane and believe me, it will the best moment of your life and when you’re back, you’ll be wanting to plan your next study abroad experience!

Top Tips:
Be prepared for the humidity – try and leave a few days early to climatize with the weather. Public transport and Google map will be your best friends in Singapore! It’s a small country and it’s almost impossible to get lost but even if you are, locals are really friendly to help you out. If you love cats and/or dogs, I’d recommend you visit the cat cafes and/or puppy cafes in Singapore! Most of all, enjoy the wonderful food Singapore has to offer!

Areas of study and research

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