Hello again! It’s been quite a while since I last wrote. My name is Brandon and I’m a third-year marine science and journalism major studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for this fall semester. With final exams fully underway and having just finished three of my four exams today, sadly my time abroad is coming to a close. With just over a week left, I’ve begun to reflect quite a bit about what I’ve experienced over these last 4 months and how much has changed since I first got here.
First, the classes while abroad. One of the first things to know about NUS is their unique grading system. NUS operates on a bell curve scale, meaning that the middle 50% of their students get B’s, with the upper and lower quarters getting A’s and C’s respectively. Even knowing this, the simple truth of this system is that it’s incredibly difficult, with everyone competing with everyone to get the best grades. At times, it was frustrating knowing that my performance was not a measure of the classes’ material as much as it was a measure against my classmates. But difficult tasks make you adapt and adjust, allowing me the ability to be more open-minded and accept other ideas more. I believe this system has also made me be more accepting of failure and knowing that it’s okay to not be the best sometimes. More than anything, it has made me appreciate the grading system that UT operates on back home and actually made me miss the way I was graded.
While classes and grades are obviously very important, they’re not what I’m going to remember most while being in Singapore. Being immersed in the southeast Asian culture and having the privilege and opportunity to travel around the region will be something that I’ll remember and cherish for a long time. Singapore, being one of the three city-states in the world, is limited in its area to explore. While I traveled around the island quite extensively during my first two weeks, things began to slow down as classes began. Luckily, the surrounding countries are accessible and affordable, giving me the chance to explore the surrounding area. This opportunity, to visit countries that are less fortunate than we are, was eye-opening and remarkable. To know how different people can be and how much there is to explore is exciting. Southeast Asia being only a small area of the world, I look forward to the future of where else I will end up going.
While exploring and travelling make great memories, I look forward in sustaining the friendships I’ve made with my time abroad. Yes, the first week or so of being in a new country and a new school will definitely feel like freshman orientation. Yes, it still is a bit cheesy and tacky. But doing the events, meeting new people, and forcing yourself to go out of your way and interacting pays off in the end. The people that I’ve met while abroad, both exchange and local students, all have something to learn from. In this short time, I’ve been able to forge friendships I know will last a lifetime. If there’s anything to gain from being abroad, it’s the fact that no matter where you go, you will become a global citizen. You’ll care about the world in a different way because you’ll know people around the globe, and when an event occurs somewhere, you’ll be able to say “I know (blank) who’s there.” The friends that I’ve made in my time in Singapore have made me feel the most grateful for the opportunity to be here. Plus, you’ll always have a place to stay no matter where you are!
With just another week to go, I still have some time to visit some areas of Singapore and get in a last hawker center meal. Studying here has been an incredibly rewarding endeavor and something that I know I will remember for the rest of my life. While not everything was perfect or easy, it’s taught me how to work my way through it and achieve to the best of my ability. If you plan on studying abroad here in Singapore, I highly recommend it. But if you don’t and you’re on the fence about whether you should or shouldn’t go abroad, talk to Texas Global. Talk to your friends that have gone or even parents. It’s something that shouldn’t be passed lightly because it is so rewarding.
That’s all I’ve got for now but I’ll be back with my last post in a few weeks! Best of luck on exams!
This post was contributed by Brandon Chan, a 2019 Global Ambassador majoring in marine biology and journalism. He is studying at the National University of Singapore.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Brandon’s experience at NUS>>