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I had the opportunity to go to Singapore for a short program with a group of friends for 1 month, it was fantastic!

Prior to departing, I had worries about not being able to make new friends (since I chose to study in different subjects from my friends), keeping up with the subjects and staying healthy. Going there with friends was definitely a good idea as you have company.

NTU GEM Trailbrazer Program

So the Singapore Build Abroad program was called the NTU GEM Trailblazer Program and let me just say this – it was AMAZING! We had to arrive there before the program started because they organised orientation events for us. The first day was the NTU Amazing Race (race around campus). We split into groups and got the chance to mingle with other people from different backgrounds, even befriending them at the end. We were given clues and had to find places or things around campus. This activity was a good and fun way to get to know the locals, the university geography and meet possible people that you might be having classes with for the next 4 weeks.

The next day, we had a Singapore Amazing Race wherein we did the same thing except this time the race took place around the city area! Through this event we got to visit some of the key and popular places in Singapore (such as Little India, Chinatown, Merlion and Haji Lane) as well as getting to know our way around to some of these places. We got lots of cultural exposure and tried some of the local snacks.

Throughout the 4 week program GEM Trailblazer hosted weekly cultural events such as prata-making and glass painting workshops. These are definitely worth going to :). At the end of the program, we had a Farewell Party where we could dress up in our national clothes, watch performances, take photos and eat a feast!

Living and studying at NTU

Living in the university halls was such an interesting experience. I was lucky enough to be assigned in one of the good halls – Hall 3 – in which the locals told me that it was the best hall to live in. It was close to where my classes were and had lots of food places near it. One time I woke up exactly when my class started and I had an important quiz to do, so I just jumped out of bed and ran to my class, the short distance between my place and my class was a life saver!

I had a roommate and though we didn’t talk much, we lived comfortably. I remember one time where I woke up late and found a note on my desk and even though it was just a simple message, I was touched.

Another thing my roomate often did was leave the lights on for me before she went to sleep whenever I came home late, and always texted me goodnight. She was such a sweet roommate. Living alone taught me how to do my own washing, clean my own room, fold my own clothes and just do everything independently. By the end of the program, I have come to label my room – my home.

The subjects I chose were Bioprinting:Principles and Applications and Introduction to Computational Thinking. Studying these two subjects were not an easy feat in under 4 weeks. There were many weekly quizzes, a final exam and a major group assignment. The classes were 4 hours long each. I had one day where I had both classes and it was 8 hours long! The classes were interesting and I loved the way they were taught. The teachers were very knowledgable which was engaging as they taught us beyond the lecture powerpoints. For Bioprinting, we had 2 workshops where we got to personally handle an actual Bioprinter and 3D printer and make structures. These was pretty awesome!

Introduction to Computational Thinking was conducted in a flipped-learning way. The group assignment provided an opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds and to get to know them a bit more. This was my favourite subject. I got to learn Python in such a short amount of time. I was proud of the result of my team’s group assignment – we made (coded from scratch) an actual functioning Battleships game! I miss my team members very much!

Weather, Food, and Others

The weather in Singapore was very hot and humid, sometimes raining. No need for wearing tons of clothes like in winter in Australia. However whenever Singapore had thunderstorms, it scared the life out of me! 😂

The food, oh my goodness! This was probably one of my top highlights. The food was so cheap. You can get a decent and filling meal way under $5AUD! The milk teas, you can get them under $3 in most places! Some hotpot and Korean/Japanese BBQ places are cheaper than the ones here in Australia so it’s worth trying them out. Singapore’s famous chicken rice dish is a must try and also the famous chilli crab!

There was at least one shopping mall at most stops and these malls were very huge (the malls alone can be adventurous). Aside from these, I also visited places such as Changi Airport (there’s a waterfall inside!!!) Gardens by the Bay, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Universal Studios and Sentosa Island. I also went to visit Malaysia for a day trip with a couple of friends and their food and clothes were much cheaper than Singapore!

In brief, if I was given a chance to go back, I would definitely take it! Singapore was such a nice country to visit. I befriended locals and people from other countries and in the process, learnt about various kinds of culture and adopted some of their language. I ate lots of delicious and cheap food and visited so many beautiful places. Studying there was a valuable experience and I would absolutely recommend this program!

Michelle Jonatan

Global Short Programs Student

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